My predictions for 2009 are based somewhat on the current global issues and reflect a shift to conservative cost savings and revenue focused strategies.
Well, last year I suggested that the top 5 trends for 2008 would be:
Increase in mobile travel.
Niche travel social networks would sprout.
The big three would not go anywhere (in hindsight, not really a prediction).
Start of Intelligent Agents (symantic search)
Long tail would shift
I would argue that all of these happened in 2008 although perhaps not to the degree that I would have expected. My predictions for 2009 are based somewhat on the current global issues and reflect a shift to conservative cost savings and revenue focused strategies:
1. Focus on cost saving technologies: All travel companies, regardless of size, will focus on using technologies that reduce their costs and improve the bottom line. This means technologies that improve distribution and are performance based could become popular as more expensive stand-a-lone technologies suffer.
2. Increased Product segmentation and Ancillary Revenue: This has been a popular subject with airlines for the last couple of years and Sabre recently presented their airline segmentation product at the Travel Innovation Summit at PhoCusWright 2008. I think we will start to see more product segmentation from other sectors of the travel industry as suppliers find ways to generate revenue that is value-added to the consumer. This in part will be driven by consumer demand for cheaper travel with a desire to create a-la-carte packages.
3. Focus on Revenue projects: One trend that I think is inevitable in hard times is the decrease in research and development projects and focus on actual revenue generation. Not that I don’t like the revenue generation projects, but they tend to be tactical in nature. The benefit however is that a focus on revenue projects will mean more opportunity for R&D in future years when the times change and the companies have more wiggle room. This doesn’t mean that you cannot do some cool things with revenue projects like integrate third-party booking APIs or make the customer experience better.
4. Mobile & Social will suffer: With the focus on revenue projects will come a shift away from unproven playing grounds like the mobile and social environments. Although there is potential with both of these spaces, the revenue models have not presented themselves in any compelling way and as such, many companies will be reluctant to invest significant dollars in these two areas. That said, I wouldn’t expect innovation to decrease. I would, in fact, expect that developers of these types of applications will be focusing on making their platforms more revenue driven versus simply being “cool”.
5. Technology Consolidation will accelerate: Like the shakeout of 2001-2002 after the evaporation of the first Internet bubble, we can expect to see more technologies consolidate, get purchased, or simply disappear this year. Companies that have created cool technologies but have no way to monetize them will be scrambling to find revenue opportunities or other ways to make money. In this kind of economy, the systems that facilitate revenue will be the winners while those that rely on advertising or non-traditional (read unproven) revenue models will suffer.