Every day the development team here at Argophilia Travel get questions about the startup end of our work. What will differentiate you from the rest of the field? What do you envision as the next phase in online travel technology? And so on. Looking at technologies and an other commodities in overall user-centric industry like online travel – well, there is a forest of choices for core value and add ons out there. Here is a look at client side choice Argophilia Travel may use, and some we definitely will not.
It should be no huge secret where online and mobile travel is headed, at least as far as the core service is concerned. Like all businesses, travel is about branding, trust, and end product. Put very simply, online and mobile portals into travel are basically previews for selling a product. Whoever does this best, wins the most bookings. So, showing people what they are going to get is what its all about – or should be. And, by augmenting place data of all kinds with real time usability. I know this sound complicated, but it is actually pretty simple. We are in the digital age, after all.
Augmenting Online Travel
Here’s where our augmented reality comes in, or AR for some. Wait one minute, we are not talking about the Sims or some online community game, but a way to show people previews of all manner of destinations and data. This is now possible online, but more practically via smart phone technologies that basically combine a camera, GPS and a compass to enable the phone’s camera to “recognize” an object or place. By overlaying the image technology detection with location and other data (like travel guides, schedules, and even real time data), AR just tacks on anything and everything a person needs anywhere.
AR will revolutionize travel. In its simplest form the technology allows travelers their own virtual encyclopedia on places, landmarks, venues, etc. – a very comprehensive digital guidebook. But the extended user value extends far beyond Wikipedia articles with a snap – imagine a preview of that ski run before you ever ski it! Yes, video preview mode is next. Everything from instant reservations to in depth cinematic virtual experience will be on tap soon. We are looking into this, and you can watch it live via YouTube in use for the iPhone (video below) and via a WikiTude app at the end of this link.
Decisions, Decisions, Opinions, Opinions
For the last couple of years the online world has embraced reviews in all their shapes and forms. For online travel, TripAsvisor is the most prevalent example of value travelers can get from other people’s opinions. But this is already changing for a number of reasons. Just like paid reviews in the world of blogging, disparate reviews from nebulous users at TA and other sites have begun to lose their credibility. Put bluntly, “who cares what someone you don’t know and don’t want to know thinks about a restaurant?” After all, what are their qualifications? The hotel cat scratched them or did not scratch them?
So, online travel has in a sense become on huge advertisement, sometimes powered by diners at restaurants. I say, “if someone is going to complain about the soup, let’s see video of that fly in it.” If not, then let’s provide users with the best possible tools to become their own critics. User generated reviews? Within their own profiles and travel aggregation tools – not as a primary selling tool for Argophilia. It’s time for something better than ten year old reviews.
Hello, Hello, Hello, Anyone There?
Online travel companies have made billions with basically one initiative – automated booking. The economy of business online often comes at the expense of jobs on the one hand, and service on the other. Expedia and all the other major players in online travel have taken this to the extreme, and now many are headed back to service to retain customers.
Ever try to call Orbitz with a complaint? Face it, there will always be some things a “real live” human being can only take care of. I am quite sure personal support is one thing future travelers with Argophilia will prize – we are definatly going to focus on new ways to engage clients. Make no mistake though, while clients never want to hear about added cost, premier customer service has an added cost variable. So, Argophilia users will have a menu of choices where their experience is concerned.
From travel insurance to all the free media, tools, and information possible, the next gen travel portal has to head in this direction. Through partnerships with the finest companies in the world, online the online and real world travel experience can be refined – a lot.
Push “Next” to See Online Travel’s Future
Those of us who evangelized Web 2.0 have become a bit impatient for so called “next generation” technologies. Since the early 2000’s these have seemed to drip from the digital facet rather than pour. Regardless of the speed up unto now, we are at the advent of some of these technologies. Video and its multitude of uses is one key paradigm. Argophilia Travel (even this travel news outlet) is a highly image and video centric entity. The future of our company, all companies who live or die in the online world, is in enabling people – empowering them – adding cutting edge value.
Through technology like that employed with Cisco’s Show and Share software (previewed in the promo video below), people will become so interactive via video – come ever closer to the cinematic touch of places and other people. This is the only way a true online travel preview can be presented. And think of all the correlative advantages and features – WOW!, that’s what you’ll say initially, but come to expect later on.
To sum up for now, 2010 has seen its share of innovation and creativity where online travel is concerned. New, highly refined products can be focused on providing customers with a never before heard of service online. And then there are some techiques and so called “innovations” that just won’t cut it later on. Argophilia Travel#s “will and won’t” list may also include products like: GroundLink, Vacation Relation (uh, no), TripAlertz, Hipmonk (I doubt it), search dynamics like TrustYou, the super intelligent Everbread pricing engine, and dozens more potentially game changing values. Tell us your take on these too.