@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Mobile IoT, @DXWorldExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Travel Companies Turn to the Cloud | @CloudExpo #Cloud #Analytics

As with other industries, mobile-first is the priority

What do Delta, United, Marriott and National Car Rental all have in common? They're some of the most popular and highest-rated brands among business travelers, according to Certify, and companies are working hard to ensure that their business clientele - and their tourism and leisure travel guests - are having the customer experience that boosts their brand and bottom line.

The same goes for travel booking companies too, and they're increasingly turning to cloud-based services and mobile technologies to keep their customer satisfaction and brand reputation first in a competitive marketplace. What companies like TripAdvisor, HotelsCombined or Airbnb have in common is a strong online presence boosted by technology investments.

Travel Companies Investing in People and Technology
In order to do that, though, companies need to invest in both the people and the technology to make their travel sites as much a "destination" as, say, the extended-stay hotels with staff that speaks Mandarin or the pet-friendly resorts for travelers who won't leave any beloved adventurer behind.

One smart site feature is the video or virtual reality tour, which helps people to make decisions they feel better about because they're rooted in experience and a "seeing is believing" that goes beyond a static photo of, say, a bed in a room that looks like any other. Marriott has been exploring the VR concept, while others focus along the continuum of the customer experience with "provocative design," an intentional moment created for guests to share on social media and advance marketing efforts through user-generated content on Instagram. Still others - including the Wyndham Hotel Group - are looking at optimal Wi-Fi, mobile check-in and other technologies that advance their loyalty programs in new ways.

"It's actually for the human factor because our guests are telling us they want to live in our hotels the same way they live at home," says Elie Maalouf, CEO for the Americas at InterContinental, in a recent USA Today interview. Their investments in cloud-based connectivity make it possible for customers to have a seamless experience, but the technology also is helping to cut operational costs at properties. In part, that means mobile platforms for checking in, choosing rooms, ordering food and other features.

Other tools, like Google Flights or HotelsCombined.com, a metasearch engine that maximizes the booking journey with all the information they need to know, continue to evolve with the market by investing in the development of new apps and features that go beyond simple search and price comparison. So do products like Airbnb, with its nontraditional approach to accommodation but the additional option of "experiences" featured on its site, many geared toward social good activism, favorite hobbies or tour preferences, arts packages or nature and wellness tours.

It's not just that you'll book a clean room in Cape Town anymore; your host promises to deliver a set of experiences including a photo history walk, cooking class and backstage VIP treatment at the jazz club. Those experiences, too, are facilitated by the technology that's changing the tourism and travel industry.

Personalized Service Is Driven by Data
As with other industries, mobile-first is the priority. More people than ever are researching their flights and accommodations on smartphones or tablets, and then finalizing their plans on the mobile device or the desktop. HotelsCombined has invested in apps designed to maximize the hotel booking experience on both desktop and mobile. "HotelsCombined noticed the shift toward mobile bookings back in 2014 and invested heavily in developing our mobile product to ensure we provided customers with the same experience that they would get on desktop," said Chris Rivett, Travel Expert at HotelsCombined. "Since then we have seen mobile bookings continue to grow year on year, while desktop bookings have decreased. We believe that this number will continue to rise as more and more people embrace a mobile or tablet as their primary device."

According to HotelsCombined research, hotel searches on mobile grew 137 percent in 2016, 25 percent more than seen on desktop.

"I think what travel and tourism means has evolved, and so have those experiences in a highly connected world," said Roman Kowalski, Vice President of Marketing at TravelGearLab.com. "The industry saw that first revolution 15 or 20 years ago, when planning your trip became something that didn't always require a travel agent, although certainly for some situations like cruises people often still want the best expertise. The deals were on Expedia or Kayak, and the affected industries - airlines, hotels, car rentals - all were forced to step up their own presence too."

Data analytics plays a growing role in understanding who your customers are and what they're going to want in travel experience. While many travelers are accustomed to mobile boarding passes and flight check-ins, those innovations are only the beginning.

In Europe, for example, the high-end Rimowa luggage company has launched a partnership with German carrier Lufthansa so that clients can essentially check their baggage without waiting because their cases are fitted with electronic tags. They also know where that bag is at all times, so the stress over running-late check-ins or lost luggage is a thing of the past. The app-enabled digital solution is also being tested with United and some regional airlines.

In the same way, hotels may already know which amenities an incoming guest is likely to prefer, and what beverage or cuisine options most interest them. That kind of personalized service is what many guests find exceptional - and all of them will come to expect - but it's also a smart revenue-generating move to understand the timing and customer preferences.

It's not that people don't want to talk to humans about their experience, although plenty of people prefer the ease and autonomy of mobile-driven solutions for choosing a flight and vehicle rental package. For many people, though, even routine business travel is enhanced by experiential encounters with unique cultures and people. They don't want to mediate that through technology, any more than they'd choose a chain restaurant instead of local cuisine at a well-recommended restaurant that captures the local flavor. What the cloud-based options are giving tourism companies the power to do, is to help facilitate those discoveries.

More Stories By Laureen Fagan

A senior PR counsel and thought leader, Laureen Fagan has 15 years experience as a media and PR professional, which includes her stint at CBS and Fox broadcast affiliates in the U.S., and in print and wire-service newsrooms in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem.

She received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and completed additional graduate study at University of Notre Dame in Theology / Hebrew Bible that includes French, Arabic and Hebrew study.

In addition to tech and business, Laureen creates informed content and deep analysis on international affairs, healthcare, culture and religion.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Daniel Jones is CTO of EngineerBetter, helping enterprises deliver value faster. Previously he was an IT consultant, indie video games developer, head of web development in the finance sector, and an award-winning martial artist. Continuous Delivery makes it possible to exploit findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to increase the productivity and happiness of our teams.
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Evan Kirstel is an internationally recognized thought leader and social media influencer in IoT (#1 in 2017), Cloud, Data Security (2016), Health Tech (#9 in 2017), Digital Health (#6 in 2016), B2B Marketing (#5 in 2015), AI, Smart Home, Digital (2017), IIoT (#1 in 2017) and Telecom/Wireless/5G. His connections are a "Who's Who" in these technologies, He is in the top 10 most mentioned/re-tweeted by CMOs and CIOs (2016) and have been recently named 5th most influential B2B marketeer in the US. H...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
@DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises - and delivering real results.
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Dez Blanchfield joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Dez is a strategic leader in business and digital transformation with 25 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industries developing strategies and implementing business initiatives. He has a breadth of expertise spanning technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, m...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Kevin Jackson joined the faculty of CloudEXPO's "10-Year Anniversary Event" which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City. Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized cloud computing expert and Founder/Author of the award winning "Cloud Musings" blog. Mr. Jackson has also been recognized as a "Top 100 Cybersecurity Influencer and Brand" by Onalytica (2015), a Huffington Post "Top 100 Cloud Computing Experts on Twitter" (2013) and a "Top 50 C...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve fu...