Travel firms should forget about predicting the future and instead prepare for it, because the speed of change means it is already here, Google’s new head of marketing for large corporations told the Abta Travel Convention.
Nishma Robb, who joined the search giant from digital agency iProspect three months ago, said: “We are living in an age of disruption and it’s not so much about technology as it is about building businesses, by taking great information and smart insights and coming up with the best solutions.
“My advice for a five-year plan is to rip it up because, in the words of Mike Tyson, you only have a plan until you get punched in the face. Things are moving too fast. Is the plan relevant and responding to things around you to make sure it is relevant, because the future is now?
“It’s not a time for prediction, it’s definitely a time for preparation. It’s about being prepared for radical innovation and disruption. Think about insights rather than just detail. It’s difficult, it’s a challenge, but there is a real opportunity.
“Planning for the future is about speed, being agile and flexible.”
Robb said Google works on three key principals when planning for the future: “Work how you live; living on the edge [of the convergence of the digital and physical worlds] and life in the data stream”.
Robb added: “Do you think about the points of frustration in your work?
“Does your business make it easer for me when I’m working with you? You need a mobile strategy. It’s not a discussion point, it’s here. If we disappoint our customers when they get to us they will leave.
“We’re not going to get rid of the real world but the two [digital and physical] will collide. We are at that point of convergence as we move from device to device and as we move from being entertained to wanting to purchase seamlessly, and that point of convergence means you need to play that edge of digital and physical.
“One of the biggest problems Google has solved in recent times is that contextual relevance. Giving information relevant to the customer where they are now.
“We are sending signals all the time. Insights can come from anywhere in your business, from your staff in your shops, to your employees, to your customers. That data gives us so many opportunities to be smarter about what we deliver back to consumers.”
Robb said a new culture was emerging of young consumers looking for answers to questions on digital platforms like YouTube, and people are emerging to answer those questions and building a huge following as a result.
“We are in an incredible time, a revolution; it’s moving at such a pace and yet we know this is probably the slowest it will ever be. That pace of change can be quite scary.”