Google, Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb threaten travel trade

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New gatekeepers of technology turn their attention to travel

It’s not just hotel industry conferences that can provide the real intelligence for hoteliers on the state of the industry but technology-centric gatherings, such as a recent Phocuswright Conference, Hotel Management writes.

At the event, innovators and start-ups from hotels, cruise, airlines and tourist attractions tried to answer the question: How do you keep up with technology that continues to evolve so quickly?

“Digital travel is travel,” said Douglas Quinby, Phocuswright SVP for research, who opened the conference. Phocuswright research has found that Airbnb leads all lodging brands in loyalty, even without a loyalty program.

“Membership does not equal loyalty,” he said, warning that the impact of technology on brand perceptions continues to pick up pace, leaving hotel brands behind.

And while “distribution and the OTAs are still the main game in town,” according to Dori Stein of the distribution management company Fornova, a bigger challenge is looming.

Amazon, Google and Facebook, the new gatekeepers of technology, are turning their attention to travel.

Google is investing heavily to bring data together to “own” the customer relationship with the traveller, all the way through the journey.

Controlling travel
With thousands of engineers working at this particular problem, Google will soon be able to dominate the traveller experience, from beginning to end.

The tech giant is working towards a world where a Google assistant will become multi-modal and live in multiple devices, from your phone to your watch to an assistant in your home.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Amazon have built close customer loyalty and online communities. These companies’ financial and marketing power outstrips the entire hotel industry. Facebook is already a gateway for travel bookings.

The tech giants are working on how new innovations like artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain will impact the future of travel. And even they’re not entirely safe, as a range of new start-ups is challenging the disruptors themselves.

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