As travel technology evolves, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of the latest wave of ideas and thought leadership in the field. So what are the top three technology trends you need to address to stay competitive over the next few years? According to travel technology expert Mark McSpadden, the director of Sabre Labs, that answer includes cross-device mobility, data from the Internet of Things and the consumerization of B2B software.
Mobile is just the beginning
Google has found that U.K. travelers make an average 32.5 visits to 10.3 websites before booking, Skift reports. Given the ubiquity of the smartphone, users want an easy transition when shifting from devices.
Sabre looks at these technology trends through the lens of "contextual mobility." Contextual mobility allows such things as airline crew members finding information about their next flights while walking through the airport rather than having to get to a work station. Likewise, travel agents need the ability to make changes to a GDS booking immediately, whether on a computer or using a tablet. Developing mobile solutions, while essential, is simply not enough. User interfaces must translate seamlessly from one device to another to reflect cross-device behavior.
Tsunami of data, coming soon
The Internet of Things (IoT) has begun to play a major role in daily lives, as billions of smart appliances and machines, homes and cars will soon be embedded with sensors and Wi-Fi connectivity. In coming years, the sensors and RFID tags in your connected devices and spaces will deliver immense amounts of data.
SITA's 2015 Airport IT Trends Survey highlights the need to use such data to inform business decisions. To prepare for this oncoming data and device management onslaught, determine what's important in the data you have today, McSpadden says. For example, the enterprise data strategy team at Sabre is dedicated to delivering data solutions that help customers collect, organize and understand multiple information streams so they can benefit from real-time analysis.
One example of this kind of data is the sensors in jet engines that provide real-time data to optimize performance while in-flight, as well as to alert ground crews of maintenance needs. Even facilities like John F. Kennedy International airport use signals from travelers' mobile devices to calculate and then display wait times at security checkpoints. Eventually the waves of data turn into tsunamis, so it is important to get ahead of the technology trends by deploying data tools to mine this data quickly and effectively.
B2B software gets friendly
When it comes to ease of use, people expect the tech tools they use at work to be as intuitive as the tools they use as consumers. But too often B2B software is archaic and clunky. Now a growing number of businesses are recognizing the need for easy-to-use enterprise software.
"The tools for hotel staffs need to be consumer grade so employees can be trained easily. It needs to be as easy as downloading an app," McSpadden says.
At Sabre, the travel technology teams focus heavily on the user experience by looking closely at how people do their jobs. Analyzing user behavior during the product development process is essential to creating intuitive experiences. Software products are developed alongside a talented user-experience team and followed up with usability testing.
Equipping travel providers with consumer-grade B2B software lets employees do their jobs more effectively, generating savings in training and support, reducing staff turnover and improving business responsiveness. In the coming year, look for B2B software to continue to become more user-friendly across the travel technology field.