I loved 2010. So much happened in online travel that I have cricks in my neck from looking left and right, from scanning an RSS news feed on one side, tweets and r-tweets on the other, conference presentations filled with announcements, press releases filling up my inbox, posts to the left of me, news to the right...here we are stuck in the middle of the most exciting online industry in the world.
Don't slow down, 2011 is already here. The Boot has six predictions for 2010. Three things will live and thrive and three things will wither and die:
2011 - three things will thrive
1. Social lives: the parallel rises of social media, the open ended question and consumers willingness to discuss and share everything openly and freely will in 20011 continue to change the way the industry attracts and retains customers. The traffic numbers of Facebook, Twitter, foursquare etc are all but unprecedented. But it is not their rise that is the story. The story is the consumer behaviour behind the rise of these products. Pick your metaphor - consumers have opened the kimono, dropped their pants or invited everyone in to their lives. Nothing is sacred. Everything can and will be shared. In 2011 the online travel industry will continue to adjust marketing channels and communications techniques to match this trend. Five tips on how to do that are here.
2. Search lives: but not as you know it. Search has changed forever especially the measure of authority. The display changes we have seen in Google and Bing in 2010 are a precursor to the profound changes I expect to see in the measure of authority for content/sites in search in 2011.
The old measure of inbound links will be enhanced with input from social networks, context and location, expert advice, preference matching and more. Search marketing will have to change to encompass content, social, information syndication and data mining. I am predicting there will be as many six factors that drive authority in search.
In addition to the changes in authority, search will change in how results are displayed. Results will become multi-destinational and multi-dimensional.
3. Data lives: In 2010 the Economist introduced me to the yottabyte as a indicator of how much data is being collected every day on everything (yottabyte = 2 to the power of 80 bytes or 1000 Zettabyte). The online travel industry following suit - collecting data on a scale unimaginable five years ago and the quantity is rising exponentially by the day. The access to this level of data and the open and honest nature of this data gives the industry the chance to profile and market to consumers at a level of detail down to and below the level of the individual. In 2011 that data will be put to use. My EveryYou concept will take even further hold in online travel (more on EveryYou here). More and more you will hear of activities in online travel to develop specific and targeted recommendations of one based on the unique combination of desires, needs and interests of each individual at any moment in time. Micro-targeting at scale.
2011 - three things will die
1. Convergence dies: For the first decade and half of online travel and the last fifteen years of communications technology, the non-stop talk was around convergence. That devices would merge. That our phones, computers, TVs, game consoles, printers, fridges and more would all come together in one device. The opposite is true. Convergence is dead. Devices are becoming (at the same time) more specialised, more capable and more connected. As a result, in 2011 we will give up on the idea of convergence of devices and instead adopt a concept of multiple devices supporting a communications ecosystem. Activities will start on one device, continue on another and conclude on a third. Each device in the chain will have a main purpose different from the other but will be able to support activities spread across other devices. Our different devices will remain with separate functions (content creation devices, gaming and entertainment devices, communications devices) but each will connect and share with the other in a common network.
2. Mobile dies: Sure mobile is everywhere. Sure I ate humble pie and admitted that 2009 was the year of the mobile. But in 2011 the mobile/tablet/PC debate will change from building for devices to building for display preferences. Device distinction as a designator for what is or is not built will die. Device platform discussions will move from “which product is this built for” to “is this compatible for all displays”.
Much like we now say that a site has to be web ready rather than differentiating between its readiness on FireFox, Chrome, Safari, opera and IE. The type of the device and whether or not it is mobile is now irrelevant. Mobile/PC/Tablet will be the different “browsers” of 2011. All code will need to be written in preparation for this.
(OK that is not the death of mobile - more like the enlightenment or complete ubiquity of mobile - but you get the gist)
3. BAR dies: Best Available Rate has been a staple of the online travel industry since 2002. In response to the absolute transparency of the Internet, chain and independent hotels guaranteed common prices across each distribution channel. In 2011 we have reached a point where through a combination of dramatically improved IP address targeting, growth in closed user groups, private sale sites, group coupon sites and more there will be a myriad of ways in which hotels will put deals out there that are different to their BAR. Get ready for a move to a world of more and more targeting, more and more yield management and a wider variety of prices for the same property and product.
Close your tray tables and turn off your electronic devices. We are in for an amazing and 2011 and the BOOT is here to cover it for you.
If you are interested here are my 2010 predictions
Thanks to 1suisse1 for the image via flickr