Guest Post: How travel can benefit from Facebook developments

By Fabio Zecchini, Co Founder & COO of
Musement

Last week I was invited to a private roundtable with Mark Zuckerberg at Rome’s Town Hall event where I learnt a great deal about how Facebook can help businesses in the travel sector. Here are some of the key points which I’d like to share with you.

BSB Messenger

The immediacy of interaction it provides, especially for SMB business, is increasingly valuable to the travel sector.

Traditionally, we’re used to email but this method of communication brings with it issues such as slowness, spam and poor service. Email isn’t ideal, especially for tour guides or concierges who work outside of offices and who really need to keep informed in real time.

With efficiency in mind, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp will increasingly replace email and organisational systems and processes traditionally attached to email, such as storage, tag, to-do, advance search and attachments will all become features of the aforementioned tools.

B2C Messenger

For travel industry customers, the messenger will become increasingly vital due to its ability to provide immediacy of contact and exchange of information.

Think of all the possibilities for us – you could send vouchers or booking confirmations, facilitate online purchases directly on the Facebook Messenger and perhaps even have them stored in a virtual wallet that works cross-device, cross-platform and avoids the issue of spam. Very exciting!

Bot Chat

One of the trends of recent months, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithm will be increasingly used by the travel industry to improve engagement with customers, understand their needs and guide them in their choices. It will also help travel companies to penetrate new markets and scale much faster thanks in part to its multilingual quality.

Travel trigger

Over the last few months, Facebook has released several features related to travel the world such as the ability to see where your friends are traveling right now. This opens up a new opportunity of interaction for all travel platforms, even if you have not yet said whether it will be made available via OpenGraph API.

VR and Oculus

The last important trend discussed with Zuckerberg is the theme of virtual reality and oculus that will allow the most unique experiences of their kind in the next 5-10 years.

Travel in these technologies are already being used as teasing experience, especially in the luxury sector; Emirates uses it to try the experience of the deluxe cabins, MSC to sell the rooms of ships even before they are built, Jumeirah uses it to visit the Burj al
Arab.

Even on our platform we sell products that extend the real experience with a virtual one by showing reconstructions from the past, rooms closed to the public, the interesting but hard to reach…and we see good results from clients. It’s definitely an area to keep monitored over the next 9/18 months to figure out how to evolve.

My key takeaway, however, was the real sense that to succeed in the travel sector, a business needs to create a superb team that works to provide a product that is truly excellent and indispensable.

It is essential to be constantly honing a product based on scientific and customer feedback and now we have so many more tools to do that with. As travel is such an emotive experience, this obsession with product perfection is what will set apart those who will truly have customer devotion and those who fade into the background noise of the industry.

It was refreshing and uplifting to hear Mark talk about how your product can change the world for your customers if you’re obsessed by providing above and beyond what people expect, even through difficult times that all businesses by default go through.

It was great to have a private audience with Mark and huge recognition for the whole of the Musement team who have been working tirelessly to bring a truly exceptional travel companion to the market.

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