September 29, 2016

OTAs are way behind times, says Priceline founder


For Priceline's Founder Jay Walker the phone and mobile changes everything, then you add augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and big data . . . and today's version of OTA is going to seem like a dial phone. What’s different now is that the compounding growth rate has caught up.

Many industry leaders expect voice-based commands to be the next key growth driver, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. When you want to contact someone, you’re much more likely to text than call. That’s because people are pressed for time and typing is simply faster. The same rule is going to apply to online booking.

That said, it’s highly likely that augmented reality will play a significant role in online booking in the future. That’s because with augmented reality booking, you will have the ability to see your options while “traveling” to many of those sites in real time straight from your living room. Instead of looking at online pictures of an attraction or hotel, you will be there in real time from a virtual standpoint. There are two potential downsides to this. One, some people will see this as enough of a vacation and save money by not actually booking anything. Two, it’s going to be many years before augmented reality devices are affordable to the masses.

Whichever online booking site manages to effectively innovate ahead of its peers will be the long-term winner. This is the case for most businesses in all industries. Stock buybacks and dividends might help now, but the companies that invest in long-term growth should have the last laugh.

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