In the age of Amazon Go a shopping experience is literally picking up your favourite yogurt and just walking out. Then there are Chinese urban consumers who have completely abandoned usage of cash and cards and instead the only thing they carry is their phone for all transactions. Travellers are no different, customers today prefer value added services for seamless experiences that are an extension of their daily rituals, taking into account their preferences. No wonder Jack Ma (Alibaba founder) is investing in retail payments in Europe, to ensure ease of payments for the estimated 120m annual Chinese travellers to create seamless experiences.
This is compelling travel companies to create location- and context-aware- seamless interactions to their customers equipped with knowledge about not just the travellers’ exact location, but even what stage of their journey they are in. Disney theme parks can be seen doing just that with their magic bands allowing visitors to get services like FastPass for avoiding long queues, getting ride information, contactless payments and generally optimising the journey in the theme park for superior experience and also pushing value added services. For the assuming people for whom the magic band may come across as fad or folly, Disney used this opportunity significantly optimise their backstage operations and adding ability to serve more visitors. The data collected in park is a gold mine for generating real time analytics as well as insights that were not possible before.
Using technology to scale seamless experiences is fast becoming a feature of not just isolated travel companies but entire cities. Smart cities or destinations will soon be conceived as tourist friendly platforms enabling two-way communication between destinations and visitors. Such an open architecture will let tourist savour unknown destination with the same ease as locals.
Brands in travel & hospitality will need to have an open service architecture to brace the future that will be pivoted on platforms of data and services that can be used to orchestrate seamless customer journeys. Even after lot of speculation, thus far Amazon has stayed out of “Travel”. If they change their mind, they can bring stiff competition with simply their service, pricing and frictionless offerings.