A string of new technologies including Really Simple Syndication news feeds and Blogs, and improved client recognition through Radio Frequency Identification will be widely accepted by travel consumers within a year.
TUI head of new media Graham Donoghue suggests within a year travel site users will be signing up for RSS feeds the way they currently subscribe to e-mail newsletters.
On its website, Thomson already offers RSS feeds of its latest offers, details of news releases, and its Blog, and Donoghue expects RSS take-up to increase quickly.
“There is little doubt that RSS will rise in popularity, and soon, using it will be like signing up for information e-mails, and a standard feature of websites.”
Donoghue said Thomson’s use of RFID – the technology the retail sector regards as the eventual successor to bar codes – is driven by a desire to be able to instantly recognise clients, probably through their use of mobile phones, which would enable customers to be recognised, and also to take advantage of offers.
“It’s fair to say we’re ‘playing’ with RFID and recognition technologies rather than using them in earnest.
“We want to be able to distinguish between those customers who are usually looking for a deal to Majorca, and those that are likely to be looking for a five-star Platinum hotel.
“It’s less about RFID and more to do with personalisation and customisation.”
The use of biometrics as a security identifier to make holiday bookings, and the further use of mobile phones to initiate ‘voice searches’, are just some of the other areas Thomson’s Labs are investigating.
Thomson’s use of voice search would enable people to research their destination while already on holiday, finding a recommended restaurant and finding their way their using mobile maps and satellite navigation on their phone.
Donoghue is an admirer of Google’s research methods, which allow staff to spend around 70% of their time working on Google traditional search business; 20% working on other Google-funded areas such as Google Earth, Picasa and Desktop, and 10% working on anything they like in the hope of persuading the company to move up the work into the 20% Google-funded zone.