Mike Valkevich, who serves global customers in Amadeus’ corporate travel division, recently joined the prestigious PhoCusWright 2012 Class of 35, a year-long program for a select group of aspiring, future leaders in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
This month, the Class of 35 gathered for The Young Leaders Summit held during the PhoCusWright Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Summit promotes executive management development and showcases the important role young leadership plays in the future growth of the world’s largest industry.
I sat down with Mike after the conference to get his view on where he sees the industry headed as well as what trends and traveller demands may shape the next generation of travel.
What trends do you see shaping the next generation of travel?
Home-based and mobile workforce changes will continue to impact the way people travel. Organizations sending their employees out on the road will continue to adapt (and some more quickly than others) to a changing work environment driven more by productivity and efficiency achievements versus pure “cubicle time.”
Another trend is the emerging and growing middle classes in India, Pakistan, Latin America, China, and Eastern Europe who will be traveling more frequently and more broadly. They will be filling aircraft which will in turn bring new needs and requirements for the travel industry to deliver their desired travel experience.
Lastly, benchmarks are changing and new ones being established and embraced by consumers in terms of what is a quality travel experience. The Middle Eastern and Asian airlines have run away with the top customer satisfaction ratings, while hotels in the US have achieved levels of standardization in quality, brand consistency, and operational excellence that will become the new benchmarks in the industry.
How are the developments in mobile going to evolve the travel experience?
Mobile will continue to be a growing factor in travel. We’re at a point of some maturity now where the main mobile operating systems have emerged as dominant and adequate data coverage is pretty widely available. So the opportunity to deliver trip itinerary and planning tools to mobile devices is a great one. If the travel industry properly addresses both the opportunities and the challenges in the mobile sector, the possibilities are incredible.
But there is still a ways to go. It will still take some time before actual bookings made on mobile devices is adopted, especially on a widespread global basis. Most people travel once or twice a year. The idea of adding another leg to a multi-destination flight on a whim with your mobile phone is a great idea, but it’s probably most attractive and useful to a limited group such as frequent business travelers.
Are there any big changes expected in online travel search?
At the PhoCusWright conference there were a lot of companies showcasing new approaches to travel online search such as Vayama.com and Routehappy.com. The industry continues to pursue developments in online search to make it faster, more efficient, and better-designed for consumers.
Another great example is Amadeus’ new Featured Results product which was presented at The PhoCusWright Conference Innovation Summit. It incorporates data such as historical buying trends, and other analytics into the search algorithm to provide the most relevant air travel options. This is really useful to an online travel shopper because they have a much greater chance of finding what they really want right up front, without checking twenty pages of search results.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview where we’ll discuss the future of travel technology and the ways in which the industry will have to adapt to next generation travellers.