Feeling baffled by the surge of technological advances? Here are just some of the things you need to know
Predictive analytics is a hot topic in the travel industry, but what does it really mean? Our very own boffin, chief data scientist Dr Eric Tyree, explained the term to delegates at CWT Connect 2017.
"Everybody wants it, but nobody knows what it is," he said. "It's about looking at past activity and understanding whether it will be the same in the future."
Humans are predictable and so travel behaviour is predictable. It is possible to predict compliance, so you can target emails to those people who are most likely to book outside of policy. That's simple to do.
Studies show that 12 per cent of travel is a waste of time and money, but most of that is easily preventable due to predictive factors. If travel is planned further in advance, with an optimum number of meetings arranged during the trip, savings of 3 per cent can be achieved.
"It's no different from what Amazon has been doing for 20 years. It's easy and the technology to do it is going down in price," said Eric.
He also shone a light on some of the technologies heading our way:
Artificial intelligence.It's about getting computers to do things that in the past we thought only people could do. In the last three or four years AI has become a big thing for us. Computing has become cheaper, so it's more do-able.
Beacon technology.This allows somebody to communicate with mobile. If you walk into a hotel and there's nobody there, the beacon picks up from your phone that you are there and opens your room.
Face recognition.Coming soon, we are going to start seeing this in hotels and airports. It's not sci-fi – systems are available to buy now.
Automation. This is something that you won't see or even be aware of. You won't know whether you are communicating with a machine or a human being. Automation will deal with a text enquiry if it can and seamlessly forward it to a human being if it can't.
Regarding the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Eric offered sage advice that we apply the golden rule, "treat people like you would want them to treat you".