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Why Asia needs to lead the next era of travel technology innovation

Nurdianah Md Nur | June 22, 2016
We hear from Hervé Couturier of Amadeus IT Group on how the travel industry is evolving, what it takes for travel agencies to remain competitive and how open source is enabling innovation for the industry.

According to the Industrial Research Institute's 2016 Global R&D Funding Forecast, Asia is the only region that continues to track growth in its R&D budget and will account close to 42 percent of the global research and development (R&D) budget.

With an estimation of close to 50 percent of global passenger traffic to be within the APAC region, or between APAC and the rest of the world by 2030, the region's lead in travel consumption and services is a reason why Asia needs to lead the world in travel technology innovation. We talked to Hervé Couturier, Executive Vice President of Research & Development, Amadeus IT Group to find out more.

CIO Asia: How has the travel industry evolved over the years? 
Couturier: Over the years, technology and the increasing reliance on the Internet have contributed to the evolution of the travel industry. Today travellers expect instantaneous updates along their journey, from flight delays to trip ideas, as well as safety or earthquake warnings.

Travellers also prefer technologies that provide convenience, and expect them to be able to manage multiple aspects of their travel from their smart devices. The dominance of social media has also encouraged the desire to be treated as individuals, highlighting the importance for travel companies to focus on personalising recommendations and recognising preferences.

More importantly, travellers can now be identified by their purchasing behaviours and motivations as opposed to age, gender or cabin class. Based on Amadeus' Future Traveller Tribes 2020 report, we have identified six Traveller Tribes that will shape global travel in 2030: Simplicity Searchers; Reward Hunters; Social Capital Seekers; Cultural Purists; Ethical Travellers; and Obligation Meeters. To satisfy these different travellers, the travel industry will need to focus on better catering to their values, behaviours and needs -- from a simplicity searcher who values ease above everything to an ethical traveller who will allow their conscience to be their guide when organising and undertaking their travel.

How have these changes influenced R&D and innovation for travel technologies?
In addition to the changes in the travel industry, we're also seeing the rise of big data, cloud technology, open APIs, an increased focus on security, demands for higher availability and increased mobility -- all of these have an impact on R&D and innovation. The fast moving nature of the industry and increasing sophistication of travellers indicate the need to adopt a leaner, faster and more agile approach in the development of solutions. In order to address this, Amadeus approaches innovation from an Open Source perspective.

An Open Source environment empowers developers with the opportunity to work in a more collaborative and innovative manner. It functions like a huge ecosystem of innovators to share knowledge with each other, create new resources and opportunities to benefit from.

For the travel industry, time and flexibility are also two important elements when it comes to innovation and R&D. Open Source supports enhanced time-to-market for new solutions. It allows travel technology companies like Amadeus to better allocate resources and make changes to specific code that directly suit our customers' needs. It also provides technology companies with the flexibility to build exactly as they want or need, by customising code to their exact requirements, giving them much greater flexibility. Innovation is also safer as the model allows for "peer-to-peer review" of codes, ensuring that the code is secure before putting it to market.


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