Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Invisible Traveler

The newly released report commissioned from The Futures Company by IHS is a unique culling of existing research coupled with long-term trend analysis to provide a window into the next decade of travel, entitled The New Kinship Economy.

One discussion is about the coming of the “invisible traveler.”  I’ve taken trips such as this already, where from researching the trip through making arrangements including selection of restaurants and things to see and do is done with little or no human contact.

This will soon include ordering off a menu or using apps such as was tested during the Olympic Games last year where guests could control in-room TV, air conditioning, lights and music from their personal devices.  Soon, this will include check-in and check-out.

Even much of clearing security at airports will soon be automated, making energivores (energy vampires) such as extraverts even more desperate, often seeming like the “Walking Dead” of travel searching for fellow-travelers from which to drain energy.

Okay, that was my extrapolation from the report (smile.)

Other reports predict that mobile destination websites such as one developed by Durham, North Carolina, where I live, will soon overtake apps.  Unfortunately, many misguided hotel companies hire third parties to reinvent the wheel rather than rely on local destination experts.

This results in misinformation or outdated data and a great deal of inconvenience for the traveler.  It also reinforces the notion that hotels are so often unfamiliar with the destination communities that are the reasons their guests are staying with them in the first place.

Another warning in the report for businesses such as hotels is that travelers will seek even greater “authenticity” in the future.  By this they mean experiencing the community as locals do, not as some global chain working through unfamiliar third-party vendors see it or as conveyed by non-resident front desk staff.Official Durham Visitors Guide

Travelers should not have to fight their way through this obfuscation, as they have for many years now, to tap into a community’s destination marketing arm (DMO.)  However, only 50% of all websites have mobile versions such as Durham’s including a much smaller proportion of other DMOs.

DMOs need to move as rapidly as possible to content delivery that is portable across different screens including, for the 10% of visitors who rely on official print destination guides, the ability to access those digitally as well.

If hotel companies are worried that all DMOs won’t be as forward thinking and comprehensive and place-based as Durham’s is, they need to find a way to incorporate and relay truly authentic and official local information whenever it is available and only resort to third-party vendors when it isn’t.

This excellent report by The Futures Company also notes that by 2023 [in less than 10 years], there will be 1 billion people over the age of 60, many of them invisible travelers such as me.

In the the U.S. spending by the 65 plus age group (of which I will be a member in a few months) will double by 2030 from $1 trillion to $2 trillion, overshadowing the 35-44 age group.

Kudos for IHS for commissioning this strategic tool from The Futures Company and for sharing it via content marketing.

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