In our industry, as in so many others, we always say we are entering a period of great change. But at the risk of sounding like the boy-who-cried-wolf, the business travel industry is entering a new period of significant change which will start to materialise in the next eighteen months.  Transparency, control, preferred channels and preferred supplier relationships will all be tested and all in the name of “3D”.

"Clever suppliers have learned the lessons of modern, online retailers quickly and we are beginning to see the effective way that the large amounts of data are being used to provide more relevant and price-sensitive products to us."

Big DATA

The amount and use of data by companies has grown impressively in the last decade. The internet and supporting technology like cookies has meant that companies and governments have so much data on things like purchasing habits and personal preferences that it has fostered an era of concern across the globe which has resulted in regular data-defectors being quite the fashion these days. But it is not this data-security concern which is having the biggest impact on the rise of data in our industry. 

It is the impressive use of data to drive the way products are delivered to the end users.  Clever suppliers have learned the lessons of modern, online retailers quickly and we are beginning to see the effective way that the large amounts of data are being used to provide more relevant and price-sensitive products to us, which is one of the reasons why we may well see some pretty major changes to the way our travel products are distributed in the future.

Dynamic DISTRIBUTION

Which is one of the reasons why we may well see some pretty major changes to the way our travel products are distributed in the future. The Travel Manager’s channels of choice has until now been almost 100% through a Global Distribution System and Travel Management Company but the airlines are now seeking a little more control over the way their products are presented to the booker.  

IATA is creating a standard distribution code, NDC, to allow intermediaries to build dynamic distribution machines to present what the airlines want to sell, how the airlines want it, direct to the consumer.  IATA says that whichever channel a traveller chooses will result in the same fare being presented, but that it may differ by traveller profile as it uses data to tailor its product. There are transparency, data collection and comparative questions for the corporate travel manager over this new landscape.

"The world order is changing.  China will outstrip the USA as the biggest business travel market in 2015 and NextGen travellers are entering the workplace with different perspectives on booking, travelling, and the use of their time."

Multi-speed DEMAND

And all of this comes at a time when we can see fundamental shifts in global demand for business travel products and services. The world order is changing.  China will outstrip the USA as the biggest business travel market in 2015 and NextGen travellers are entering the workplace with different perspectives on booking, travelling, and the use of their time.

With the use of big data, profiled fare offerings and varying demands for travel services, corporations will need to create dynamic solutions and that means greater reliance on technology.  Many of the technology products have entered into development overdrive because they recognise the central role they could play in managing the influence of these big changes. 

The question is whether what they can offer will be enough, or whether a totally new approach is going to be required by companies.  Nobody really knows, but like any good story, if you want to know how it ends you’ve got to keep watching.

"With the use of big data, profiled fare offerings and varying demands for travel services, corporations will need to create dynamic solutions and that means greater reliance on technology."

Big data in action

And all of this comes at a time when we can see fundamental shifts in global demand for business travel products and services. The world order is changing.  China will outstrip the USA as the biggest business travel market in 2015 and NextGen travellers are entering the workplace with different perspectives on booking, travelling and the use of their time.

With the use of big data, profiled fare offerings and varying demands for travel services, corporations will need to create dynamic solutions and that means greater reliance on technology.  Many of the technology products have entered into development overdrive because they recognise the central role they could play in managing the influence of these big changes. 

The question is whether what they can offer will be enough, or whether a totally new approach is going to be required by companies.  No-one really knows, but like any good story, if you want to know how it ends you’ve got to keep watching. And as it’s in “3D” you’ll need your glasses…