Air. One might think this is one of the most ubiquitous things that human beings might experience in their life. Especially when considered it is essential for our survival. But there is something that over the years has become even more common-place than air for humans and that is technology. Just consider it. Even astronauts orbiting the Earth right now, in the endless vacuum that is space are being kept alive thanks to technology. So it won’t be an exaggeration to say that the average human consciously or unconsciously interacts with technology almost as often as they breathe.
The first big internet led disruption in traditional ways of doing business can be traced back to online ticketing. With the advent of GDS air ticketing became automated and flights became more accessible to people. The onset of Online Travel Agents made travel less opaque and cheaper for travelers. Platforms that sold alternate modes of accommodations akin to home rentals transformed the way hotel companies viewed their hold on the industry. Cross-industry application of technology has also been embraced by the travel industry. Using GPS, RFID, and now IoT and AI to help make travellers’ lives easier is something we can see happen almost everywhere.
However, the potential of technology to be a great leveler has not truly been leveraged in the travel trade. The means of doing business has gone online, but the multiple layers of aggregators and middlemen still plague the industry. This even more true when you end up doing business in low-trust economies like India. The promise of technology was that it will make things more transparent and less expensive. This hasn’t exactly panned out as planned out.
The people who actually deal with the movement of travelers on the ground, namely the small travel agent and the service provider (like transporters, guides etc.) still have not been able to take full advantage of the power of technology. They have solutions for accounts, personnel management, and even booking tracking. But when actually doing their work i.e. creating itineraries, operating those itineraries and catering to travelers they are left short-changed. They either take big business risks by trusting small organizations protected by varying international laws or they act as re-sellers of large aggregators.
A very natural progression for the travel industry looks to be towards enabling a seamless means to connect these two ends of the travel-value chain while ensuring that correct information transfer, safe payments, and proper oversight over traveler safety and experiences is provided. At E Trav Support we are attempting to do exactly this. By utilizing a combination of data-mining, automation, and AI we are looking at creating a platform for small retail travel agents to discover the correct service providers to work as their partners rather than depend on large-scale aggregators. Along with this, we are looking at creating a destination discovery platform for these agents so that they can cater to the new age traveler, a traveler who doesn’t necessary follow itineraries and is empowered by technology to discover more than what is popularly offered.