Part II: 2015 predictions and what transpired

In part two, Mariam Sharp revisits her next five 2015 predictions and considers what happened next

Last week we revisited the first five predictions of 2015. Now we look at the next five from 2015. With the benefit of hindsight, some may have been a bit, well, stating the obvious, but there were also few surprises in 2015.

1) The rapid growth of mobile is a driving force for the travel industry in 2015

Well that was an easy prediction! However, what might also be worth reflecting on in 2015 is the decline in desktop sales. Since 2013, PC sales have been in decline with only Apple seeing a slight increase. 

“The fourth quarter of 2015 marked the fifth consecutive quarter of worldwide PC shipment decline,” according to Mikako Kitagawa, principle analyst at Gartner.

The outlook for 2016 is for a 1% decline, with a soft recovery by the end of the year, which is likely to depend on the quality of the next Microsoft update. For the travel sector, the important point to note is that these shifts away from the desktop are happening in both consumer and business markets. It could well be that as consumers increasingly shift towards using smartphones and tablets there will be further decreases in PC usage. This has implications for the range of products that are offered to customers.

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

This 2015 prediction was spot on! With the rise of cheaper alternative accommodation and different modes of transport, more people hit the road and peer-to-peer sites certainly went forth and multiplied. According to Airbnb, the majority of its users are still looking for a local experience in a room in somebody’s home, but it has also seen professional landlords joining the platform. This has prompted calls for greater regulation, most recently in the UK where the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has expressed concern that firms like Airbnb are abusing existing regulations, and putting pressure on housing stock especially in cities like London. Today Airbnb is really just another distribution platform, so the term ‘sharing economy’ may not be around for much longer. However, the alternative accommodation market is certainly here to stay, so the big question is: can we expect to see the rise of a more mainstream metasearch platform for these sites?

Peer-to-peer sites certainly went forth and multiplied

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

If you thought billboards would be watching you by now, that wasn’t to be! January 2015’s predictions had this to say: “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.” 

Yet, today the company appears to have vanished. While billboards may or may not be watching, today people can be spooked by so-called ‘proximity marketing’.

By tapping into the precise targeting capabilities of proximity marketing technology - such as i-beacons & geo-fencing - airports, in particular, have the potential to deliver a greater and more personalised user journey. 

There is, however, evidence that getting too personal can be creepy.

So finding the engagement sweet spot today, is the challenge for marketers to address. Indeed, they will need to strike the right balance to create helpful experiences that don’t intrude unnecessarily.

Finding the engagement sweet spot is the challenge for marketers to address

According to Juniper estimates, 1.6 bn coupons will be delivered by 2020 via beacon technology up from 11 million in 2015. But worth considering too is the findings of a survey by Interactive Media in Retail Group/eDigital Research. It says that 62% of UK consumers view receiving messages triggered by beacons as harassment!

4) New payment methods, a new landscape

If there is one industry that has seen exponential growth, it has to be that of the financial services software sector, dubbed fintech. In 2015, fintech went mainstream with investment nearly doubling between 2014 and 2015. However, it was in the US, which saw five times more investment into fintech than the whole of Europe combined, where the market really moved. With mobile money transfers up by 150% in 2015, the mobile payments space also grew at a pace. Consultants Tractica forecasts that wearable payment transaction volume will grow from $3.1bn in 2015 to $501.1bn worldwide by 2020. By then wearable payments will represent approximately 20% of the total mobile proximity transaction volume and about 1% of total cashless transactions in retail. All of which provides great opportunities for the travel sector!

Proving further that mobile payments are on the move, not only did Apple Pay launch, in November 2015, a new coalition coined Financial Innovation Now was announced by Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal.

5) Rewards programmes will be rich for pickings

Forbes recently estimated that loyalty programmes have grown to a £3bn industry - which might explain Priceline’s acquisition of RocketMiles in 2015. What is also clear is that the range of programmes and the nature of rewards have changed. Airlines in particular, for example, have shifted focus from miles to money spent. Simplification of loyalty programmes could be a focus of 2016 given complaints about growing complexity. There are also questions about how loyalty programmes can attract the millennial traveller.

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