Many of today’s travellers seem to be pushing away from the traditional business travel model and gravitating toward alternative travel solutions. Disruptive technology start-up companies are meeting this challenge with alternative transportation and lodging options. 

Disruptive technology is not only knocking on the traditional business model door, it already has crossed the threshold.

Disruptive Technology Trailblazers

Disruptive technology is hardly a new concept.  Consider some of these “disruptive technologies”:

  • The personal computer (PC) – replaced the typewriter.
  • Email – forever changed written communication and altered the postal industry.
  • Mobile devices –now supersede all other systems for researching, booking, and changing travel arrangements.
  • Cloud computing – is replacing many traditional in-house hosting and storage services.

Disruptive Technology in the Travel Industry                                                                                                             

There is plenty of media buzz about start-up companies like Airbnb and Uber. These two start-ups are among a growing number of technology-driven service providers that are changing the nature of leisure and corporate travel.

  • Airbnb describes itself as a “community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone.” 
  • Uber is changing the face of ground transportation, particularly car and taxi usage. Using the Uber app and creating an account, travellers can request a ride with 2 quick taps.  Uber pickups are made on demand and drivers usually arrive within a few minutes.  The app shows the ETA of the car and driver.

These types of disruptive technologies are not without their challenges from the travel industry and also government/legal sources. 

From the travel industry perspective, Uber and Airbnb remove travellers from the regular “inventory” of hotel rooms and car rentals. From the oversight perspective, these services are being scrutinized to determine whether they violate various safety, insurance, tax, pricing, and liability laws.

Challenging the Travel Industry

The peer-to-peer (P2P) economy is a driving force behind the development of such services as Uber and Airbnb. P2P is based on collaborative consumption, sharing resources through bartering, exchange, swapping – including cars, houses, and apartments. It is primarily an urban phenomenon that is gaining global momentum.

P2P lodging is already challenging the hotel industry with multi-billion dollar results. It may currently have a more limited appeal or value as a corporate travel solution, but unless P2P services come to a sudden halt, P2P will likely make increasing inroads into corporate travel as well.

Another challenge in the travel industry regards the democratization of corporate travel, meaning that so far there haven’t been CBTs to meet the needs of Small and Medium companies. Nowadays, corporate travel agents can offer their customers a CBT that allows them to see everything, right from how much they’re spending and saving to the kind of options that are available to them, that too in real time. The solution we are referring to is TTS Corporate, also available on mobile, disrupting the complex and expensive processes, at the disposal of all travel agencies, no matter the size. 

Travel Industry – Answering Back

Some observers feel that P2P travel will have a limited effect on the travel and hospitality industries. But disruptive technology often foments needed change to traditional business methods.

For example, travel industry technology continues to create and implement new systems (and utilizes them across devices and social media) for simplifying how travellers and agents book air travel. The TTS WeBook Internet Booking Engine (IBE) enables agencies to offer simple, fast online booking process via the agency’s website or Facebook page.

P2P is not a one-size-fits-all travel solution. But it is forcing the travel industry to re-examine what services it offers and how those services will be delivered.  P2P also may gradually widen the travel market.  Travel may become hybridized – incorporating the best services of P2P and traditional systems!