The future of travel: eight things you need to know

Futurist Dr Graeme Codrington claims the key word for the travel industry today is "uncertainty", and that no one knows what is going to happen next.

Speaking at the ABTA travel convention, Codrington said that businesses must get their heads around the upcoming trends and the causes of disruptive change happening to consumers across the globe, or they will become extinct.

1. Everything you do is replaceable

"There is more computing power in your smartphone than NASA used to get Neil Armstrong to the moon. If your business is going to be successful in the next five years you need to focus your energy on what smart devices are doing to our world. If your business is not getting more digital more mobile, more connected, more networked; if you're not always on and if you're not using big data to become more intelligent, then you are falling behind. This is your only possible future, everything else you do is replaceable."

2. You can no longer compete based on your product

"Every institution, from the Roman Catholic church to Manchester United, all the way down to the definition of family, is changing. Regulators, having seen what happened in the financial services industry and having seen the devestation caused by the economic recession, are now looking at all industries that deal with people's money.

"Regulators want push more transparency and even without them, [the need for] transparency is there. You can no longer compete with [other businesses in your sector] based on your product, because your customers can check, in an instant, everything that everyone else is saying about your business - and they will be less likely to trust you rather than anybody else in their network."

3. Some stuck-up kid with an iPad is eating your lunch

"There is danger of saying 'this is how it has always been done, this is the best way to do it, there is no other way,' and these are the orthodoxies that govern, constrict, control and help us. The problem is they help us too much - until some stuck-up kid with an iPad comes in and changes all the rules.

"Who starts giving things away for free and does things in minutes, who starts making prices you can't believably make, and [makes changes] that you initially write off because [they are] insane. And then they eat your lunch. We need to get rid of these orthodoxies. One a month, for the rest of your life is a good habit to get into."

4. The machine is coming for you

"If all things we say about tecnology are true, you must be nervous of your job and your place in the machine, because the machine is coming for you, too. Unless we are doing things computers can't do, we are imminently replaceable by machines.

Unless we are doing things computers can't do, we are imminently replaceable by machines.

"Over the last five or six years the rules for success and change have shifted, the rules for success and failure in every industry and institution over the world; political, social, economical, personal, social, organisational and professional rules are being rewritten.

"And you need to be doing something different too. If the amount of change outside of your system is greater than the rate of change inside your system, then you are becoming extinct, you are becoming irrelevant."

5. The travel industry is not keeping up with the older generation

"We know that there are more and more elderly people in the world. The Queen has stopped sending letters to people who live to be 100.

"The number of people reaching this age is increasing by 400% a year, more than half of the people who have ever turned 80 are still alive and by 2050 that number will have grown to half a billion.

"The old concept of the genteel Saga holidays [will become] the adventure holiday, the opportunity [for this generation] to go and do things they've never done. This is a different mindset for a different generation and the travel industry is not keeping up with them as much as they should."

6. You cannot ignore Gen Y-ers any longer

"Gen Y-ers, the digital natives, are the people who have grown up their whole lives with digital phones and the internet. They have highly developed digital social skills. They are already in your offices and they are already in your teams making corporate, business and strategic plans.

"You cannot ignore this generation any longer, they want all their data, always available all the time and the devices they are choosing to use the progammes of their choice needs to be free, in real time and updated now. Does that sound like your office? It needs to, and soon.

7. You have to see the world in different ways

There is an increase in the middle class all around the world because of urbanisation.

"There is an increase in the middle class all around the world because of urbanisation. There is a massive, unprecedented drop in poverty and more people are moving up into the middle class, which is being squeezed. It means there is still pressure on the travel industry but the long term view is that there are many more customers and clients coming your way.

"But, you have to see the world in different ways – Africa's growth rate is 7% at the moment, between India and China, and too many people are ignoring this. The shift in the world has moved from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and if you want to get ahead of the curve, that economic power is going to shift to the Indian ocean over the next few years."

8. People's expectations are changing

"People's expectations, their views of what is right and wrong or good and bad, is changing. There is no normal any more. There isn't even a new normal about to emerge. You have to learn to live with uncertainty, with constant change.

"We are seeing this within all aspects of out lives and controvercially, in how we define family and marriage. This has changed faster than any other value has in the history of the world. South Africa was the sixth country to make gay marriage legal, and the UK was the fourteenth. This is an example of how fast social values are changing, and going back to the workplace, this means there is no such thing as a normal career anymore.

"There isn't even such things as a normal working environment, a normal employee or team."

Dr Graeme Codrington is a futurist and strategy consultant with a particular interest in trends affecting how people live, work, interact and connect with each other.


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