How travel professionals respond to the next digital age – which will include advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, self-driving, robotics and automation – is going to be critical to the future of their businesses, journalist Kara Swisher cautioned the audience at last week’s Phocuswright Conference.
Swisher, editor at large of Recode; host of the Recode Decode podcast; and executive producer of the Code Conference, says the technological changes afoot will be “incredibly amazing for consumers, but disruptive to the companies we all know,” and those in travel that execute best stand the best shot.
She points to merges already taking place in the space, such as Airbnb starting to offer hotels – and, eventually, flights – and hotels getting into private accommodation.
The home-share giant, she says, is an example of a brand entering the “rundle,” or “recurring revenue bundle,” sphere, in which companies have a relationship with consumers to sell them multiple services. (Examples of existing brands doing this include Amazon, Apple and Nike.)
Airbnb’s relationship with its customers is “much more involved” than Marriott to its loyalty members or American Express to its customers, she says, and as more “rundles” emerge, “the question becomes, which companies do you trust and which don’t you want to?”
Swisher also believes augmented reality will be an important supplement to the travel experience, and changes in transportation – in the form of everything from giant plastic bubbles to space tourism – is a major trend to watch.
Following her talk, Swisher spoke with Phocuswright analyst Maggie Rauch about the economic feasibility of companies like WeWork and Lyft, the concept of the “woke CEO” and OYO’s business model (“growth at all costs costs a lot”).
Watch the full session below.
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