Into a brave new world for Online Travel Agents and beyond

The pace of technical change in online travel is about to speed up and take many players by surprise, according to one of travel’s largest global technology suppliers, Amadeus. Driven by consumers’ increasing use of their mobiles, possible innovations change could include personal mobile travel agents. For another, the demand from leading IT players and e-Commerce giants for innovative platforms could result in an all-encompassing travel marketplace.

These are two of the opportunities and threats to OTA’s outlined by Amadeus, listed among the results of some far-reaching research throughout the industry. The results are published in two recent reports. One, Online Travel 2020, Evolve, Expand or Expire, is based on focus groups and workshops organised worldwide among Amadeus consultants and customers. The other – Travel Distribution: the end of the world as we know it? – is an analysis of research across the industry carried out for Amadeus by a team at the London School of Economics (LSE).

“The future for many industry players is at a crossroads,” the team at the LSE says. Disruption to the status quo is heating up as a result of consumer expectations, social media, advances in artificial intelligence (AI), big data, regulation and travel risk.

Combining data from different sources – social media and emails and the calendar function – a personalised mobile phone assistant could become a service offered by travel agents, it suggests, detailing ideas collated. It adds that this “could be targeted to offering the right product at the right time, alongside more relevant and targeted advertising.” The service would support the whole experience, including the in-destination services through apps, and overall strengthen OTA’s offers, ultimately supporting their revenues in a competitive market.

Combining different data

There could also be a possibility for technology players to combine data from different sources (not just travel suppliers) and aggregate it to provide additional analytics, it adds.

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