How the Future of Retail will drive the Future of Travel


The travel industry is poised to expand in incredible ways, not the least of which will be due to rapid technological progress. The future of retail, in particular, and how top performing companies embrace such advances will play a significant role in shaping the sector.

At Travelport LIVE 2017, world-renowned futurist Ross Dawson’s keynote homed in on this point. There he shared his EPIC framework which identifies the four domains of value in retail and applied it to the world of travel. You can watch a video of the full keynote with slides here.

As Dawson shows, competition has already begun in these domains. Travel companies that want to succeed in the years ahead can’t afford to ignore them. They must start work in the following areas now to avoid being left behind. In his keynote Dawson shared numerous examples of leadership in the industry.

1. Experience

Having a taste of a good experience entices travelers to want more. But how do companies create physical spaces that offer stronger, more tempting experiences than smartphones and tablets? That surely surpass what can be gleaned from videos and brochures?

With virtual reality, German airline Lufthansa has begun giving people the experience of flying business class en route to San Francisco. Similar experiences such as simulated tours through an exotic city aren’t a replacement, but compel people to live the reality of actually being there.

2. Personalization

Personalization is the nub of physical retail today. Combing the physical with the digital to understand the individual and give them more personalized offers is the future.

Already the Houston airport employs beacon technologies to provide travelers with personalized navigation tools. Retailers inside airports are also using them to make offers to people as they pass by, giving customers a better way to make decisions and purchases for themselves.

3. Immediacy

From drone delivery to Amazon’s dash buttons, what customers want is arriving faster and faster. All of retail is seeing this push to immediacy, one that gives instant service and ultimate convenience.

In travel, the smartwatch speeds up check-in and boarding times. The demand for immediacy, especially among frequent travelers, continues to grow and is rife with opportunity for growth.

4. Community

In the world of travel, communities are fundamental and are, in fact, often created by the travelers themselves. There is incredible opportunity for retailers to take advantage of this desire to connect and share value by matching people together themselves.

In particular, travel agents have tremendous potential to link travel communities worldwide instead of simply offering products for individual travelers to buy.

As Dawson demonstrates, travel businesses that focuses on these domains will keep far ahead of their competitors as the world of travel rapidly changes.