Sabre Labs: Automation, Authenticity, Blockchain Top Travel Industry’s Future

The Sabre Labs report looks at how technology can mediate and enhance these interactions, “and ultimately make the journey better for everyone."

Sabre Labs

Southlake-based travel technology company Sabre Corp. has identified three technologies and trends that it expects will have the most significant impact on travel over the coming decade.

In its The Sabre Labs 2018 Emerging Technology Report, the company identified automation, authenticity, and blockchain as the preeminent forces in the travel industry’s future.

“Increasingly, people are coming to understand that the travel business is really a technology business.”

Philip Likens

“Increasingly, people are coming to understand that the travel business is really a technology business,” Sabre Labs Director Philip Likens said in a release.

“Even the simplest journey generates huge amounts of data. Collecting, indexing, and understanding that data — and how we apply that understanding to improve every traveler’s experience — is what will drive real innovation across the entire travel ecosystem.”

Sabre Labs is the innovation team within Sabre that explores how new capabilities will impact travel. 

“Whether it is AI and machine learning to automate and optimize tasks, the counter-intuitive ability to deliver authentic experiences digitally, or using new protocols (such as distributed ledgers) so a traveler can head to the airport and leave their wallet and ID at home — on purpose — tech is going to reshape the travel experience,” Likens said.

Here’s what Sabre Labs has to say on each in the report:

AUTOMATION

Advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning have the potential for step-changes in how people will be served in the digital environment. Sabre Labs said an innovation team at the company is devoted to exploring how the capabilites of AI and machine learning will impact travel because the awareness and cognitive capacity for machines suggest a large range of opportunities for those companies operating in the travel space to rethink when and what to sell, how to staff, and operate their businesses, as well as how to anticipate and exceed their own customers’ needs.

AUTHENTICITY

Sabre Labs believes that currently, we live in an age where trust is in low supply. That means that authenticity and authentic experiences are more valuable than ever. It said that businesses increasingly must rely on technology and digitization to interact with their customers at scale. The company is examining whether technology is in tension with authenticity and whether digital is the enemy of what is real. Sabre believes that every trip a customer takes is an opportunity to encourage a traveler to have a more authentic experience, which sometimes means escaping or topping reality.

BLOCKCHAIN

Sabre Labs proposes that the volatility in the price of cryptocurrencies that has dominated headlines overshadows the value in the underlying blockchain technology. It is difficult to separate the hype surrounding cryptocurrency from the actual potential of distributed ledger technology — which Sabre said enables secure, “trustless” transactions to occur. Blockchain has significant promise in the travel sector, Sabre said. It proposed that you could embark on a round-the-world trip without having to bring your passport or wallet as a sign of that potential.

“Tomorrow’s travelers have a set of expectations fueled by ubiquitous access to information …” 

Philip Likens

“Tomorrow’s travelers have a set of expectations fueled by ubiquitous access to information, smooth transactional experiences, and increasingly personalized offers,” Likens said. “There is tremendous opportunity for companies to begin thinking about how their brand can be agile enough to meaningfully interact with tomorrow’s travelers.”

He said the report looks at how technology can mediate and enhance these interactions, “and ultimately make the journey better for everyone.”

Want a copy of the full report? It’s available for free download here.

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