Travel industry must use ‘virtual space’ to win

Travel industry must use ‘virtual space’ to win

BT futurologist Ian Pearson has unveiled a world of digital make-up and mirrors, video tattoos, and intelligent data ‘bubbles’ to travel industry executives.


Pearson told delegates at the Travolution Summit that they are living in a world where trying to capture market share was difficult, because even though they are moving faster and faster, so are their competitors, and all weak competition has disappeared from the market.


“You are going faster and faster, and if you slow down, you lose the race. Running faster, just like a cycle pursuit race, just keeps you in the race,” he said.


“All the stupid competition went away ages ago.”


Pearson suggested that the online travel industry was missing an opportunity in not taking advantage of the ‘virtual space’ currently adopted by the games industry.


He added: “Given your expertise, you should be able to seize pole position in exploring cyberspace, with holiday trips to ‘fictional’ places, offering a Total Recall experience. This business is real and dollars are transferring.”


Too many organisations were failing to wear a business hat in their use of online channels, Pearson suggested.


“Just because you use the Internet for something doesn’t make it a good idea. Use your business brain,” he said. “An awful lot of inefficiencies are caused by people taking an idea and putting it on the Internet. We’re not working smarter – we’re using IT in every clumsy way we can.”


Technological advances that could impact the travel market would see the use of digital make-up and digital mirrors to tweak your appearance online to meet the expectations of whoever you might meet.


The irony, he argued, is that the virtual world is overlaying the real world, driving more travel. ‘The more people you meet online, the more you’ll want to travel to meet them for real.”


Intelligent data bubbles will enable you to swap mutual personal data with people who also want to advertise their availability on the beach. Another intriguing area will be the sensory world, which could see widespread use of ‘video tattoos’, enabling you to watch a DVD on your arm.


However, said Pearson, the risk in using more technology is that eventually it may create a ‘Stepford’ scenario where there is a backlash against its invasiveness, its all-seeing knowledge of everything you do, including the crimes you commit. “We are already creating fertile ground for a Hippy Revival around 2010,” he concluded.

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