The Phocuswright Conference overflows with stimulating ideas. There, onstage, is a managing director of travel for Google. The CEO of Expedia. There’s a parade of entrepreneurs pitching their innovations to investors in the audience and being publicly grilled by a panel of “dragons” who probe for weaknesses. There are the investors explaining what they’re looking for. Over there, leaders of legacy technology companies are unveiling new capabilities.
Many presenters at the annual conference, which just concluded, are chasing travel’s Holy Grail: The Seamless Trip. From research to booking to the travel itself, creative minds are working to sand down travel’s speed bumps and dismantle barriers, to smoothly fuse travel’s components. In the words of Clear CEO Caryn Seidman Becker, who spoke at the conference, her company’s job is to “remove friction.”
Several of the speakers are as intent on removing pain points encountered during the pre-trip processes as Clear is focused on the trip itself. How can data be used to better understand consumers and make buying more efficient? How can back-end payment processes be simplified and reduce internal costs? How can hotels maximize revenue opportunities?
Travel technology has become a dizzyingly complex field, and while tech solutions intend to simplify matters, it’s been my observation over the years (I attended the first Phocuswright Conference in 1997, and most since) that for every technological advancement that pares down a process, two new enterprises arise that offer new options with enticing, but complicating, factors.
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Weissmann, who also founded Weissmann Reports (now part of Travel 42), is also a popular speaker at industry conferences, is widely quoted in consumer media and is a regular contributor to the PBS television show “The Travel Detective.More from Arnie Weissmann