Part of the beauty of hackathons is that they remind us of the many opportunities for innovation in the travel industry. As time marches forward and technology advances, we make greater strides in improving the traveler experience.

Oftentimes, it’s not a massive evolution but an incremental improvement that moves the industry forward. The fresh thinking and new approaches make hackathons an exciting place in travel. The events produce diverse projects that touch all areas of the industry. In our past hackathons, we’ve seen projects that address group travel, bleisure, travel disruption, end-to-end experiences, and more.

The key to creating prototypes that are viable as potential products is to consider multiple angles of the travel spectrum at every stage of design.

It’s just as important to consider the impact of emerging tech as the needs of the traveler.

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Stepping towards a viable prototype

It’s also valuable to look at how today’s connected traveler interacts with technology, as well to examine consumer behavioral patterns to reveal gaps in the market. By taking all of these factors into consideration, we can start to see clear areas of opportunity to make a traveler’s life easier – be it an individual on a business trip or a group of friends booking time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the daily routine.

With all of this in mind, the overarching goal of Hackathon: TTX takes a similar approach. Top travel minds and newcomers will spend June 24 and 25 at the Aria resort in Las Vegas working towards these new concepts.

The focus is on creating frictionless and personalized experiences for the traveler, as well as how unified commerce can ease the booking process. This could be achieved through a B2B application (i.e., a panel widget for the new Sabre Red Workspace) or through something new in the B2C spectrum (i.e., chatbots, VR, wearables).

The decision support bar

Essentially, we supply developers with the right tools, and they provide the creativity and expertise needed to accomplish these goals. It’s a perfect way to kick off this 2017’s Sabre TTX conference. (Bonus: the hackathon is free to attend). Here’s how we see our three key focus areas: frictionless travel, personalized experiences, and unifed commerce.

Frictionless travel

A frictionless experience is one that removes obstacles to make business interactions and the traveler experience as easy as possible. While this seems like a relatively simple concept, something as complex as travel is never as easy as it seems. Even a trip 100 miles away can turn into an absolute nightmare once things start going wrong. Travel disruption is a common theme in the solutions developers create during hackathons.

Often times, the goal to solve this issue results from real life scenarios such as “I took an international business trip and was stranded in Tokyo for two days” or “we got rerouted and I had to reconfigure my entire week.”

Scenarios such as these are moments where a frictionless experience can benefit the traveler. For example, we can capitalize on the convenience of the mobile device through push notifications that are sent to enabling rebooking the minute something goes wrong. We could even take this one step further and utilize emerging chatbot technologies to make sure every aspect gets taken care of, such as luggage/hotel/transportation/dining options – or even local entertainment – to make a long delay a little less painful.

If everything’s connected and all bases are covered, the customer only has to contact a human being if things get super complicated. While there’s never a substitute for human interaction and kindness, someone who’s experiencing such a delay might want the option to have everything taken care of with minimal effort. This not only gives the user a frictionless experience but gives them peace of mind as well. 

Personalized experience

From the way we market to consumers to the way those very consumers make purchase decisions, personalization is huge in this day and age. More often than not, there’s a desire to have an experience that feels tailored to someone’s exact needs, especially when it comes to shopping for and booking travel. Personalization is essentially that: offering the right product to the right person at the right time.

There are many opportunities for this in both B2B and B2C channels. For example, the right data on a client could lead to suggestions in the form of a New Sabre Red Workspace widget, which in turn could help a travel consultant upsell or craft an experience based on the client’s specific tastes. Not only does this create an experience around the travel itinerary, it also makes sure that experience is tailored to travel preferences.

Winning team from the hackathon in Singapore, 2016.

From a B2C standpoint (let’s think mobile again), there is plenty of room for personalization. For one, it’s not uncommon for consumers to make purchase decisions after numerous touch points and research in the shopping process (over 30 for some).

These touch points can include anything from blogs to browsing online travel or meta search engines, from offline resources to conversations in office break rooms – the list goes on and on. If we can gather data about a user to offer them suggestions based on past behavior and likes/dislikes, we’re already ahead of the game.

You could even take it one step further and enable booking based on preferences on a device like the Amazon Echo. If we’re thinking in terms of travel disruption, like we touched on above in our discussion of frictionless experience, then personalization could be a key factor in suggesting flights (times, seat maps, routes, etc.), preferred hotels, and even nearby restaurants or bars. Again, offering that right experience at the right time can make all the difference in the world.

Unified commerce

Unified commerce refers to providing a holistic experience for the customer. This can be at any stage of the booking and shopping process. What’s key here is that the customer receives the exact same experience across devices, during all points of the shopping process.

Much like how responsive web design is paramount to a customer’s experience on the web, unified commerce is paramount when shopping for travel. If shopping on an iPhone or Android, tablet, desktop, voice activated device, or even working with a travel agent, the user experience should be the exact same.

 

While it may sound complex to execute, the concept of unified commerce is actually quite simple to understand. If you have a consumer that’s using multiple devices while shopping for and purchasing travel, it only seems logical that they should have the same experience throughout the shopping process. As a result, no matter what stage they find themselves in (start, middle or even final payment) the entire ordeal will be comprehensive. An added bonus: they’re using these same devices in an experience that is equal parts personalized and frictionless. Suddenly, everything is intertwined.

Of course, these hypotheticals are just some of the many ways a developer could code to these themes. There’s no doubt that personalized and frictionless experiences combined with unified commerce represent major opportunities to improve travel. Combining these with the latest emerging technology could lend to the next game changer in travel. There’s plenty of options and technology out there that could be the next big thing.

Join us in Las Vegas

So if you’ve got what it takes, register for Hackathon: TTX and show us what you’ve got. It’s an excellent time. 24 hours of straight coding using Sabre technology, open technology and sponsor technology. In the end, one team will emerge victorious – but plenty of forward thinking solutions will be adopted. We at Sabre Dev Studio can’t wait to see what innovations lie ahead!

Register at the URL above.