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Imminent changes in technology will render many travel apps redundant and companies should not “wrap their brands” around them, one of the sector’s most senior technology chiefs has warned.
Jim Peters, chief technology officer at air transport IT group Sita, said: “There are too many apps – there is 17,000 with travel in the title – and there are ways to interact with devices other than apps.”
Peters told the Sita Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels: “The model needs to be looked at. Don’t get your brands wrapped around your apps, because it is going to change.
“Seventeen thousand travel apps is not going to work.”
He said apps would need to link to one another to be useful, arguing: “Apps are like walled gardens – you can’t go out.
“Sharing eyeballs through deep linking applications [between apps] is what we see coming.”
Peters told the summit audience of aviation technology officers and suppliers to check the user reviews of their apps, saying: “Thousands of reviews say ‘your app gave me the wrong information’ and recommend ‘Use the web instead’.
“We know there is a problem. You have to give up some of your brand and let users move from application to application through deep linking.”
He added: “It’s an opportunity for a data aggregation service, but we need standards and we need application programming interfaces (APIs).”
Peters said rapid changes in technology made long-term projects a waste of time, warning: “Don’t do 24-month projects. Do stuff in small chunks.
“You need to fail fast and be ready to pivot if you hit a dead end.”
But he added: “You can’t just swap around all the time. You do have to make some bets [on IT].”
Thomas Windmuller of airline association Iata told the summit: “We have a huge number of partners bombarding passengers with information.
“We all think we have the best information, but that is rarely true.
“Say snow closes an airport,” said Windmuller, Iata senior vice-president for airport, passenger, cargo and security services.
“Who provides the best information on a flight delay? The airport is likely to know best when it will re-open. But the airline might know it doesn’t matter when the airport re-opens because it can’t get the crew to its aircraft.
“We need collaboration to provide information to a common platform, then we can compete on how to present information from that platform.”