Why is more important than how in travel

Research groups, events organizers, media outlets, to say nothing of suppliers, are in a constant battle to keep on top of the internal and external forces impacting the travel industry.

NB This is a viewpoint by Giancarlo Carniani.

Significant milestones are hard to pin down in an industry which is not only at the cutting edge of many technological advancesbut also also exposed to the economic, social and political changes taking place on an almost daily basis.

The overall signs are positive – despite the headwinds, the number of domestic and international trips continues to grow on an annual basis.

Questions, questions

Would the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 have been even greater had the global economic collapse not happened in 2008?

Would low-cost airlines have grown so quickly if oil prices had been more stable? Would peer-to-peer giants such as Airbnb and Uber have developed into billion dollar businesses if consumers in western economies were not worried about their jobs? Would OTAs have innovated less if Google hadn’t?

There are so many questions around what has happened and when it happened.

Where is also relevant – the rapid growth of China and India as a source for technology and travellers alike on the global travel stage is well documented.

And with regions such as Latin American and Africa also starting to show signs that online travel is growing, there is an increasingly global feel to the business we all work in.

How takes up a lot of focus, perhaps because it is relatively easy to measure and manipulate. We know how people search and book their trips, we know how suppliers share (or not) inventory with partners, we know how travellers like to pay.

But the most awkward question to answer and one that is often conveniently overlooked is why.

Why is Priceline Group the leading player in the accommodation market? Why is Ryanair determined to become more than just a low-cost carrier? Why does business travel continue to keep the wheels of global commerce turning?

The answers to these questions brings the intangibles into play, the less concrete and less quantifiable aspects of the travel tech arena.

Just because something can’t be measured in a standardised way doesn’t mean it is irrelevant.

Why do travellers shift loyalties? Why do women business travellers from Asia have different needs and demands from their peers in North America? Why does Airbnb pose such a threat to traditional accommodation providers?

As organiser of BTO Online, a technology-focussed travel exhibition and conference which takes place in Florence, Italy,  I have seen the changes at first hand, both from a conference organiser’s perspective and as someone who runs three hotels in the Italian city.

The ninth BTO Online takes place in Florence at the end of this month, and the headline theme for this year’s event is “Why”.

The idea of the conference sessions is to tackle the intangibles and to drill down deeply into the reasons why travelers make the choices that they do and look at how some of the biggest names in travel are addressing these behaviours.

Related Tags: travel industry, Giancarlo Carniani, domestic & international trips, global economic collapse, global commerce turning

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