Guest Post: How the sharing economy is transforming travel

Guest Post: How the sharing economy is transforming travel

By Rowan Scranage, VP EMEA, Couchbase

The digital economy has ushered in a completely new business ecosystem, with completely new rules – for instance, the biggest cab company owns no vehicles, the biggest accommodation company owns no hotels, and the largest travel sites definitely don’t own any aircraft or cruise ships.

The lesson of ‘prepare to innovate or prepare to fail’ is no less true in the travel industry. Here are some of the latest trends in the industry, with examples of how companies are embracing the latest innovations in technology:

Big data to remember


All industries are trying to analyse big data and use business intelligence to help make informed decisions.

Amadeus, for example, perform one billion transactions each day – including airline reservations, hotel bookings and rail purchases – each of which leaves a data trail. Traditionally, travel businesses have tracked detailed demographic statistics, bounce rates and conversion funnels, but now they have access to other data, including external information such as from social media or even weather patterns. It will not be long until we see a new level of personalised service with travel services understanding your spending limits and holiday routine.

Taking drivers off the road


In 2016 we’re utilising AI all the time, from the everyday voice-recognition systems to the more eccentric robotic hotel receptionists. The advent of certain technologies – inexpensive high-speed internet, secure cloud storage, mobility solutions and low-cost devices – has allowed the fantastical possibilities of AI to truly become reality.

Recently we saw Rolls-Royce unveiling their car of tomorrow, while Elon Musk and Tesla have been making strides in the driverless car market. The fatal crash involving a Tesla in “autopilot mode” will reignite the debate over whether the rapid advance in car safety technology is de-skilling the driver, but one thing is for sure, autonomous driving is coming, probably at an AI assisted speed. This in itself will have a huge knock-on effect for taxi and chauffeur services in many tourist hot-spots.

Is your app up to scratch?

Mobile apps are being downloaded at an unprecedented rate with the average user having over 40 apps on their phone. This has created a mobile ecosystem of services aimed at improving consumers’ lives with almost limitless business potential. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are dominating the field, but others a making huge strides.

Increasingly, consumers expect access to their app at any time and in any place, regardless of connection; meaning data has to be accessible both online and offline. Ryanair’s mobile app was one of the first to take advantage of this new trend; their app was downloaded over a million times in its first year, while its mobile platform upgrade reduced booking time from five minutes to less than two.

Augmented reality


While the concept has been round for a while, the recent release of Pokemon Go has shown its now undeniable potential. Virtual reality’s less glamorous, less isolating cousin is going places, and will hopefully help take us there.

Travel often takes you to places you’re unfamiliar with, so access to all the information you need as you go about your travels is absolutely crucial. Since AR is now (if not that widely) available from your mobile devices, it makes access to information both portable and simple. This means that as you’re on the go, you can find information and reviews about nearby locations, locate Wi-Fi hotspots, and even check a real-time weather forecast.

Finding your way around in an unfamiliar town or country can be very frustrating, and for some, scary. AR elevates typical navigation maps by adding digital elements such as arrows and other helpful direction and information to the map. Geo Travel, for instance, helps you navigate cities with ease. Now you no longer have to fear going to a new city, you can find all the best and most out of the way places without constantly staring at a map.

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