By Charles Duncombe, marketing director of Holidays Please
At the start of the year Gartner said “Device mesh” was the number one strategic technology trend for the year. While it sounds like something to calibrate fishnet tights, it’s actually even more intimate than that.
In simple terms, it is where you use the sensors that are built into wearable and mobile devices to collaborate and track the physical characteristics of your customer such as heartbeat, body posture and eye movement.
You then create what is called an “ambient user experience” which tailors the customer environment according to the signals you pick up from the devices monitoring the customer.
So, in the future, when a customer enters your travel agency, you could use cameras, eye tracking software and wearable devices to monitor the heartrate, skin flush, and eye movement of your customer.
As you show hotel pictures or deliver a quote the computer could tell you whether the customer likes it or hates it… despite what they are telling you!
Or if the customer walks in with a subtle limp that cannot be picked up by the human eye you might tailor your holiday suggestions accordingly.
Based on these subtle signals, the computer could even help you make further suggestions based on what it thinks that the customer likes. It could even change the music or lighting in the shop based on how the customer is reacting.
But the experience doesn’t need to end in the shop. When the customer is away on holiday you could continue to monitor the customer’s experience. When their heart beat drops to an incredibly low level perhaps they are having a relaxing massage, or a heart attack!
Ok it might be a bit far-fetched to think that customers will give you access to their fitbit or phone to pick up this extra physiological data. But it is worth noting that there is software on the market at the moment that can use ordinary CCTV cameras (both traditional and infrared) to pick up eye movement, skin flush and other subtle signals and so you might not need their co-operation.
You just need to decide whether this is your travel agency of the future, or George Orwell’s of 1984!