Inside Travel: Understanding the latest technology and industry trend insights

Find it hard to keep track with all the latest insights into business trends, new products and technology advancements in the travel sector? The Blue Swan Daily provides you with an update on some of the key stories from the past week.

  • A socially intelligent robot called FRAnny is now advising passengers at Frankfurt airport
  • Uber launches new vouchers services allowing businesses to gift rides
  • OYO Hotels & Homes gets comfortable in its first bedbank
  • GlobalReach Technology adds new guest Wi-Fi features to its soon to release Hotspot 2.0 solution
  • TPConnects secures ONE Order IATA messaging standard
  • Canada’s Slickspaces Technologies rebrands as Operto Guest Technologies,
  • AND FINALLY… Do we really love to travel with our phone more than friends and family?

A socially intelligent robot called FRAnny is now advising passengers at Frankfurt airport

A six week trial of a robotic concierge that uses artificial intelligence to support passengers has begun at Frankfurt airport in Germany. The robotic head called FRAnny is an expert on the airport and is able to answer a wide range of routine questions – including the correct gate, the way to a specific restaurant, and how to access the free Wi-Fi. This is a cooperative project between Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt airport, and DB Systel GmbH, Deutsche Bahn’s dedicated IT service provider. The trial will evaluate the functionality, customer acceptance and practical usefulness of the technology in everyday situations. The trial follows a successful four-week pilot with FRAnny’s predecessor at Frankfurt airport in spring 2018. After approximately 4,400 interactions, 75% of passengers rated their exchange positively. The trial will be followed by the debut of FRAnny’s sister, SEMMI, which who will support human customer service agents at Deutsche Bahn’s information centre at Berlin central rail station in Jun-2019.


Uber launches new vouchers services allowing businesses to gift rides

Uber is launching a new way for businesses to pay for Uber trips through the use of Uber Vouchers. While certainly a tool for corporate travellers who make use of customer transportation such as shuttle services or rental cars, the concept is also aimed at businesses to create a differentiated customer experience to attract new clients or support loyalty and service for existing customers. For example, a voucher to use an Uber ride to visit a restaurant, sporting event etc, even for bars to help customers travel home. Uber’s goal is to “unlock an additional growth lever for businesses by creating an innovative way to bring customers to their door or wherever they need to go,” explains Ronnie Gurion, general manager and gobal head of Uber for Business. “As companies look for new technology and novel ways to engage with consumers, Uber Vouchers provide a perk that businesses know their customers will use,” he adds. In addition to a web-based tool, there is also an Uber Vouchers API available. Uber is currently working with Freshworks on an API integration into their platform so they can leverage vouchers across their suite of solutions.


OYO Hotels & Homes gets comfortable in its first bedbank

OYO Hotels & Homes has entered into a strategic global distribution partnership with Hotelbeds, its first-ever distribution partnership with a bedbank. It will provide it with access to the over 60,000 travel buying intermediaries around the world that use the Hotelbeds platform, including tour operators, airline websites, points redemption programmes and loyalty plans. Reciprocally, Hotelbeds’ clients will have access to OYO’s portfolio of more than 18,000 franchised and leased hotels and over 10,000 homes and villas, across ten countries.


GlobalReach Technology adds new guest Wi-Fi features to its soon to release Hotspot 2.0 solution

GlobalReach Technology has added new guest Wi-Fi features to its Hotspot 2.0 solution, giving hospitality brands the benefit of communicating through, and monetising their Wi-Fi service, without the need for loyalty programme guests to log-on through a captive portal. The new capability comes ahead of the launch of the Hotspot 2.0 Release 3 standard, due later this month. The company is adding interstitial functionality to the experience, which complements traditional captive portal pages. The new feature enhances the frictionless Wi-Fi sign up process by allowing the brand to smoothly deliver location-aware, guest-segmented communications. For example, hospitality brands could welcome guests as they enter the lobby, reward them with a promotion, or prompt them to book their next stay, using this message.


TPConnects secures ONE Order IATA messaging standard

TPConnects, a new generation global travel technology provider to the airlines and travel sellers, has been granted ‘ONE Order Capable’ status. This is an IATA messaging standard that aims to modernise reservation systems by combining passenger information currently held in different systems into one record. The IATA ONE Order programme will simplify airline reservation and accounting systems by gradually phasing out Passenger Name Records (PNRs), Electronic Tickets (ETKTs) and Electronic Miscellaneous Documents (EMDs) and replacing them with modern ‘internet-era’ order records.


Canada’s Slickspaces Technologies rebrands as Operto Guest Technologies,

Following rapid expansion since launching in 2016, property automation start-up Slickspaces Technologies has announced it has rebranded as Operto Guest Technologies. It takes its name from the Italian word aperto; meaning to open. Operto has launched a next-generation operating dashboard, offering hotel and property managers real-time insight and control over their inventory. The dashboard supports automation features including integrated keyless entry, noise and occupancy monitoring, temperature and energy control. The company is currently working with hotels, vacation rentals, serviced apartments as well as more niche accommodation alternatives across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean.


AND FINALLY… Do we really love to travel with our phone more than friends and family?

Worryingly, a new survey has discovered we are now more likely to be seen with a mobile phone as a holiday companion, rather than friends or family. The ‘Holiday Priorities’ study of UK travellers, commissioned by tour operator Jules Verne, found 37% of people would prefer their mobile phone on a trip, rather than a partner or friend (20%). It seems men are more addicted to their phone than women with the findings showing 44% of men are more likely to choose their phones over their friends and family versus 31% of women. When asked about the first thing they would do when arriving on holiday, 38% would check in on social media first. This was deemed more important than having food (37.5%), letting their family know they had arrived safely (36%), or taking pictures (31%).