At the forefront of Phocuswright conversations were the emerging trends and technologies that are shaping the future of the travel industry. As younger generations of travelers exert more influence on the marketplace, their technological savvy and reliance on mobile result in new and refined expectations of the end-to-end travel experience. To meet these expectations of a seamless booking and traveling experience, companies are looking to AI, machine learning, chatbots, and more to provide improved personalization and assistance at all phases of travel. According to Oliver Heckman, vice president of travel and shopping with Google, one in three travelers are interested in using a personal digital assistant when making travel decisions. While strides have been made in voice and personal assistant technology, experts at Phocuswright agreed we are only on the cusp of this bourgeoning technology but all are optimistic at the possibilities it might one day provide.
Possibly the newest buzzword in the travel industry, blockchain made an appearance in several discussions as presenters grappled with the question of how it might impact travel. While there are numerous use cases for blockchain, payment processing seemed to the most generally accepted form of early adoption in the travel industry. As is the case with most emerging technologies, broad adoption of blockchains suffers from a chicken or egg scenario, whereby the widespread use of the technology will not be possible until a critical mass of users and companies can transact contracts and payments through the system. It will be interesting to see what happens with blockchain in the coming years, though most executives agreed that they do not consider it to be an imminent threat nor yet a viable opportunity for their business.
We are excited to see how these conversations and trends that came out of Phocuswright will play out in the coming year, and are already excited to regroup in Los Angeles next Fall for Phocuswright 2018. We hope to see you there!