The next big 5 travel predictions for 2015 and another chance to WIN!

Mariam Sharp and Pamela Whitby pick the brains of the industry and put heads together to make another five New Year predictions

Be sure not to miss EyeforTravel’s first big five predictions to kick off 2015 but in the spirit of making loads in that hope that come December 2015 you’ll be marvelling at what we got right, here are our next five.

1) Mobile – yes it remains right up there

The rapid growth of mobile is a driving force for the travel industry in 2015. As Sally White pointed out in her market wrap up in December, companies are having to spend to keep up with their customers’ migration to mobiles and smartphones and that is likely to effect their profit share. EyeforTravel research into the growth of mobile across the online travel industry shows the commitment of travel companies to the channel has grown by 20.8 percentage points between 2011and 2014. In particular, hotel and airline companies have been playing catch up with online travel agencies by designing user-friendly mobile apps and mobile websites. In fact 62% of hotel executives surveyed believe that mobile devices will see the biggest growth in booking volumes in the next 12 months. Importantly 63% of airline executives believe mobile has improved customer engagement.

An industry view from Mattias Borg, CEO Guidepal backs this up: “Travel people will talk about mobile bookings and nothing else. In the first six months of 2014, 40% did mobile bookings related to travel, just a year ago the number was 20%, and a year before that it was 7%!”

It still remains unclear when mobile might reach a saturation point, but every serious player in the online travel space is prioritising mobile technology development and pushing hard to increase their share of customers through mobile.

2) People-based sharing with a local flavour is on the rise

The sharing economy facilitates exchanges between people, and a growing number of peer-to-peer solutions are being delivered, many based on mobile applications with location-based technology. The biggest player in the accommodation arena is Airbnb, but others such as Couchsurfing, HomeExchange and Homestay are among those looking to facilitate people-based travel. Homestay chief executive, Alan Clarke, who will be speaking this month in New York says until now Homestay people-based travel has been about where and at what price but with a trend towards more experiential travel, ‘with whom’ will become even more important.

The tours sector is also seeing an increase in people wanting to experience ‘the local’ - SideTour, WAYN and Localbylocals are examples that create networks for travellers. Peer-to-peer eating is also growing rapidly with platforms such as EatWith, Colunching, Cookening or Shareyourmeal providing travellers with ways to eat with the locals. Peer-to-peer is also affecting transportation - platforms such as Uber and Carshare are changing the way people travel. With people increasingly recognising that they don’t need to ‘own things’ and can access them when they need them in new ways, this is a trend that cannot be ignored.

3) Localised information and targeting is on the way becoming all seeing  

On the journey from the airport to the airplane, the hotel lobby to taxi and so on, in 2015, more travellers will depend on technology to receive notifications. As an example better technology in airports (such as San Francisco Airport) will give travellers location-specific alerts enabled by nearby low-frequency Bluetooth sensors. Osama Hirzalla, Vice President Brand Marketing & eCommerce Europe at Marriott, who will be speaking at Travel Distribution Summit, Europe agrees: “Consumers will choose brands that will help them stay connected and provide seamless transition from one space to the other”.

The convergence of demographic targeting and localisation is likely to increase as the resulting data is extremely valuable to advertisers. A recent innovative creation is the billboards created by Immersive Labs a New York-based startup. These billboards can ‘see’ who is watching and change adverts if they are not getting enough attention. NEC, Intel and Microsoft have also been in partnership since 2010, to develop next generation digital signage. Rumours are that this will include technology that uses facial recognition software, to provide more detailed demographical information – and it may just launch this year.

4) New payment methods, a new landscape

Alternative payment methods by Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Masterpass, PayPal and others will start challenging the traditional credit card landscape within the travel industry predicts John Gallagher, EyeforTravel’s Global Events Director, who is currently researching the TDS, Europe. “This will add significant pressure on credit card fees or payment fees and commission as competition soars,” he says. What is also likely is that new forms of technology will improve the tracking of business travel payments and improve the data available to inform business planning. One example, is the partnership between Conferma’s network and MasterCard that will provide all its corporate clients and issuing banks with links to the leading Travel Management Companies, Global Distribution Systems, self-booking tools and online travel agencies, at the point-of-sale. In Asia Pacific, the wide range of payment opportunities is an ongoing challenge but also a big opportunity, something that fast-growing vacation rentals player TravelMob has cottoned onto.

5) Rewards programmes will be rich for pickings  

As rewards programmes are increasingly seen as an alternative currency, new forms and partnerships are likely to grow in 2015. In the US, Dallas based Fuel Rewards programme has teamed up with Priceline Partner Network (PPN) to enable consumers to earn cents-off-per-gallon rewards at participating Shell stations by booking airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. In the UK, the Nectar Card, enables customers to collect and spend points with a wide range of retailers, and includes Expedia, Easyjet and other travel companies. Also there will be changes in how points are allocated. For example Delta Airlines has announced that it will change its Skymiles frequent flyer programme beginning this month. Flyers will accumulate miles/rewards based upon the amount of money they spend on flights instead of the distance flown. Delta will join Virgin America, JetBlue and Southwest in adopting a revenue-based approach to mileage rewards.

Don’t forget to make your predictions in the comments box below or tweet @eyefortravel for your chance to WIN a free EyeforTravel conference pass in the city of your choice!

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