Hackathon: TTX – Creating Frictionless Experiences for Today’s Traveler

by Molly Jones

On June 24th, the developers at Hackathon:TTX will face off in a 24-hour coding competition to build B2B and B2C solutions that address three issues in the travel industry: Frictionless Experience, Personalized Experience, and Unified Commerce. In the first blog post in this two part-series, we’ll explore what it means to create a Frictionless Experience for travelers. In a later post, we’ll look at how ideas centered on Personalized Experience and Unified Commerce are paving the future of travel shopping and booking.

From wearable smart translators to supersonic jets to airport robots straight from an 80’s sci-fi flick, the travel industry is known for producing some of the most futuristic technologies out there. While this new technology is impressive, and certainly buzz worthy, it’s important to take a step back and think critically about the core industry issues that drive such creativity and innovation. The future of travel is bright, but in order to truly move forward as an industry, we must keep the biggest pain points and opportunity gaps at the center of the innovation conversation.

No matter what strides we’ve made so far in travel technology, if you’ve ever sat in economy on a long-haul flight, you know there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Until we learn to teleport from point A to point B, there will always be issues to tackle in the travel experience. At its very core, travel is the industry of moving people, and those who strive to be change agents face the same deceptively simple questions – how do we move people faster? Safer? Cheaper? How do we tackle issues when things go wrong? What kinds of experiences can we offer people once they get there? The list of challenges goes on and on, and suddenly the idea of a robot named Pepper helping people check into their flights doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

Knowing we work in one of the most diverse and complex industries in the world, we sought to choose competition themes for Hackathon:TTX that deal with real issues in the travel industry, as well as leave ample room for creativity. This year, our three categories – Frictionless Experience, Personalized Experience, and Unified Commerce – revolve around improving the travel experience every step of the journey, from booking and planning to the cab ride home from the airport. In the first of this two-part blog series, we’ll dive into what it means to provide a Frictionless Experience for travelers. In the next post, we’ll wrap up our discussion with an exploration of Personalized Experience and Unified Commerce.

Frictionless Experience

Travel is hectic. The act of travelling from point A to point B is, in reality, so much more than that – you have to pack, get to A’s airport, get through security, get settled on the plane, land in B’s airport, find your luggage, get to your hotel… and this is without the all-too-frequent reality of flight delays, lost luggage, traffic, and the countless other things that can go wrong in the travel experience.

Many pain points in the travel experience are out of our control. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control getting stuck behind a car wreck on the way to the airport. Thankfully, it’s 2017, and most of the world travels with a tiny computer in their pockets more powerful than the computer that first got man to the moon. In today’s world, mobile phones are used for so much more than calls – our phones now serve as health trackers, thermostat controllers, navigation devices, and even matchmakers. Though some impressive travel apps are available, we’ve barely scratched the surface of utilizing mobile technology to improve the traveler experience:

“2017 will be the year when travelers experience what mobile truly has to offer. Until now, travel suppliers such as hotels and airlines have tested the waters with basic functionality—including flight and hotel check-ins, boarding passes, itinerary updates, and shopping and booking capability. A confluence of technologies, including faster processing power, cloud computing, and IoT [the Internet of Things] will come together to push the mobile channel to the next level—removing existing pain points from travel and improving the overall trip experience in the process.”  – Deloitte’s 2017 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook

So while technology can’t stop a blizzard from cancelling your flight out of Chicago, there’s a lot of opportunity in the mobile space to ease the pain of disrupted travel. What if the moment your flight was cancelled, push notifications with rebooking options were sent to your device? Instead of racing to the counter or calling the carrier, you could secure your spot on another flight at the tap of a button. Or, if you get stuck overnight, you could receive hotel options, restaurant recommendations, or even local movie times to make your involuntary delay more enjoyable.

Have an idea on how to remove friction from the travel experience? Show us what you’ve got! Register now for Hackathon: TTX, which goes down June 24th-25th at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. And stay tuned for part 2 of this series, which defines Personalized Experience and Unified Commerce.

About Molly Jones

Molly Jones is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager for the new Sabre Red Workspace. As part of Sabre’s New Graduate Leadership Program, she has also worked in Sabre’s Supplier Commerce, Global Accounts, and Global Operations divisions. She graduated from Rice University with a BA in English and Cognitive Science in 2015.

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