Amadeus has broken new ground by identifying the emergence of the "Amateur-Expert Traveler." This new breed is more knowledgeable, more adventurous and more likely to live in an emerging economy than ever before, Amadeus says. Most important, 73 percent of travel professionals think Amateur-Expert Travelers create new opportunities for the industry that will help reshape the travel industry in the post-recessionary world.
Amadeus also identifies two other trends: the rise of the responsive journey and the opportunity presented by niche travel. The Amadeus study is based on primary research with 2,719 travel professionals and 30 thought-leaders and senior executives from companies such as Kayak, Forrester and Qatar Airways.
In addition, Amadeus believes that while many industry watchers think the Internet will take over the travel industry, 75 percent of industry experts surveyed think that we won't all be booking our vacations online. "As more of the world becomes accessible, travellers will still need and seek traditional travel agents to help find that vacation that’s just a little bit more interesting," Amadeus said. "This is particularly true for the developing economies where a premium is placed on customer service and human interaction."
"The growing expertise of travellers has had a profound impact on the travel industry as the average consumer, empowered by the internet, has become increasingly well informed," according to Ian Wheeler, vice president of Amadeus. "But greater expectations are being embraced by the travel industry, and it’s spurring on a new wave of innovation in the wake of the recession."
The three significant developments:
The Amateur-Expert Traveler: The average consumer has been empowered by the internet, and the dynamic of the relationship between travel companies and their customers is changing. Seventy-three percent of industry professionals welcome the greater knowledge brought by user-generated content, which drives up customer expectations and creates new opportunities for travel agents to share their expertise with increasingly adventurous travelers.
The responsive journey: Sixty-two percent of those surveyed think that the journey experience is ripe for technological innovation. The maturing of the mobile internet will give rise to massive innovation around the trip itself.
All niches great and small: Travel companies' revenue streams are becoming more evenly spread over a wider range of products. The traditional 80/20 sales distribution curve no longer applies to 38 percent of respondents, for whom 80 percent of their revenues was contributed by 60 percent or more of their products. Similarly, niche travel offers present opportunities for travel companies. Those surveyed identified adventure travel (83 percent), religious travel (55 percent), and weddings (45 percent) as key growth areas for specialist holidays.
"Innovation in new technologies across the whole travel experience will be a critical source of new services and revenue streams for travel companies," Amadeus said. "In the survey, one third of respondents think that virtual reality will soon have the biggest impact on the travel experience by matching vacationers with destinations much more accurately. But virtual reality is just one of many different technologies that will shape our travel experience in the future."
Amadeus also note the rise of the BRIC economies:
As BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies continue to grow, the traditional tourism and business travel landscape is changing. Amadeus' survey predicts that by 2020, China will be the third-largest tourist destination in the world, ahead of traditionally second-place Spain. Moreover, economic growth in these countries means that vacationers and business travellers are increasingly likely to be from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Successful travel companies will need to bear in mind the cultural specificity of serving Chinese or Brazilian vacationers as well as North Americans or Europeans.
"The last year has been challenging – there’s no doubt about it," said Wheeler. :"But we can clearly see the desire within the industry to grow, adapt and innovate around the whole consumer experience."
Amadeus Search Serves Next Generation Traveler
Amadeus continues to push the boundaries of online shopping technology for the travel sector with its new Amadeus Extreme Search concept, which improves customers' shopping experiences by giving them the power to conduct highly intuitive and personalized travel search, quickly find their ideal travel options and reduce the time to plan and book trips. In the first quarter of 2010, Amadeus said it will continue to roll out enhanced Extreme Search solutions for online and leisure travel agents, leading the industry and revolutionizing the online travel shopper’s experience.
Amadeus notes that travelers seeking packaged vacations are no longer limited to searching based on destination or date of travel; they instead can explore options based a variety of factors, such as the type of destination ("beach") or the desired trip budget. Available choices instantly appear on the same search page in real time.
Amadeus Affinity Shopper now brings this new concept to airline websites, enabling travelers to shop on airline websites by their desired travel experience. The new solution was presented at the PhoCusWright Conference in Orlando. In the first quarter of 2010, Amadeus will continue to roll out enhanced Extreme Search solutions for online and leisure travel agents.
"With our Extreme Search concept, which also drives Amadeus Affinity Shopper, consumers can search by budget, type of activity or geography – all on a single page – and receive relevant responses instantly. This completely overthrows the established practice on airline websites, which requires that research is done based on known destinations and specific travel dates. In addition, with Amadeus Extreme Search, the shopping process is then seamlessly integrated into the booking flow, allowing the traveler to purchase the chosen trip on the same website," said Denis Lacroix, Amadeus' vice president of sales and e-commerce platforms.
The innovative approach improves significantly the shopping experience for travelers by giving them the power to conduct highly intuitive and personalized travel search, quickly find their ideal travel options and reduce the time to plan and book trips. This means that an airline is able to capture travelers’ attention early in the search process and engage them into a booking, thereby growing share of the leisure market.
"Current searching is not in line with the way people think,” Lacroix pointed out. "Travelers often do not know what they really want, and even if they do, they will still want to compare options and offers. Research conducted for our leisure travel technology business revealed that 70 percent of people planning to take a vacation do not have a firm idea of where they want to go when they start looking. This new search technology will map onto the way consumers want to purchase travel."
"You do not always enter a store looking for a blue shirt or a striped tie," said Wheeler. "In the same way, you do not always know if you want to go to Mexico, Miami or the Bahamas, but you do know you want to go to the beach. Thanks to Extreme Search, a traveller can narrow that search to "beach vacations," anytime between November and January where the temperature is 80 degrees, and relevant destinations from across the globe would be displayed. Extreme Search is one of the many new technological concepts which will intuitively help travellers find what they want quickly, and guide them toward new experiences based on their interests.