Sessions on intelligent travel, Blockchain and Facebook were among highlights on the final day of the Travel Tech Show at WTM London on Wednesday 9 November.
Specialists shared how to apply some of these newer technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to travel to engage audiences and foster loyalty.
At the Digital Travel Think Tank’s session on AR and VR, Chris Elson from Diverse Interactive told the packed sessions they were “missing a trick” if they are not already creating virtual content.
He talked of the emotional attachment that can be built using AR.
“You maintain their interest using interactivity. It creates highly engaged customers who buy more and promote more.” He went on to describe AR as “bringing the biggest shift in how we use our mobiles and tablets” since people started using them 10 years ago.
Ben Smith of Laduma said it was time to move on from thinking of AR and VR as cool and “fun to have” on your phone.
“People will get over it. We’re in the post-wow era when it comes to these new technologies. We need to be more ambitious. Travel is only scratching the surface with these technologies.”
He advised travel companies to take the passion that made them “fall in love with travel” such as the people and the stories and apply it to AR and VR content. But, he cautioned: “Treat it as you would every other medium or it will fall flat.”
DestinationCTO founder Alex Bainbridge also brought a dose of reality to proceedings saying that creating high quality AR and VR content could be expensive current and that he looks forward to when independent tours providers and hotels can all participate in these technologies.
“Technology teaches us something. 10 to 15 years ago a content management system was $1 million now you can use systems such as WordPress for free. When technology is expensive, it’s winner takes all which means the big intermediaries.”
Facebook headlined a later session run by Travel Perspective. The social network’s Vanessa Fitzgerald shared her three “key shifts” happening right – mobile, video and immersive experiences.
She said 300 million people post a video via Instagram Stories every day – three months ago the figure was 250 million, demonstrating the rapid growth of the Facebook-owned app.
She also talked of how travel companies can use content at various times to engage consumers such as short snippets when they’re on the go and lengthier content when they are in the “lean-back” consumption mode and have more time.
Elsewhere, the Travel Tech Theatre also hosted a full day of standing-room only sessions.
Highlights included tnooz, Amadeus and SITA discussing blockchain and its potential impact on travel.
Kevin O’Sullivan, lead engineer for SITA Lab suggested that Uber could be rendered obsolete by blockchain’s potential to allow passengers and drivers to connect and transact directly with each other independent of an intermediary platform, while Clare de Bono, director of product and innovation for Amadeus UK and Ireland, said that baggage tracking is one of the best use cases for blockchain.
Both agreed that while blockchain is maturing, it is still five-to-ten years away from becoming a mature technology.