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Innovation: Have Tribe, Will Travel

Time travel. People have been doing it in great numbers ever since air travel became affordable. Jets collapse space and time. As more travelers travel farther and faster than ever before, travel companies need to time-warp forward to uncover future-defining trends. That’s why here at Amadeus we have done just that by peering a decade and more ahead to discern air travel patterns. We’ve issued a report which even has a nifty name — “Future Traveller Tribes 2020” — and it’s a good read.

Time travel.

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People have been doing it in great numbers ever since air travel became affordable.

Jets collapse space and time. As more travelers travel farther and faster than ever before, travel companies need to time-warp forward to uncover future-defining trends.

That’s why here at Amadeus we have done just that by peering a decade and more ahead to discern air travel patterns. We’ve issued a report which even has a nifty name — “Future Traveller Tribes 2020” — and it’s a good read.

Reading the future is what I and my colleagues do in developing the advanced technology data systems that leading-edge carriers like British Airway and Qantas are now using.

Our study found that travelers are sorting themselves into “traveler tribes,” or key emerging consumer groups.

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Here are two that I can relate to: “Global Executives” and “Cosmopolitan Commuters.”

The first tribe is composed of ‘elite’ business travelers who want a private jet type experience when they fly. This tribe predominates in emerging economic markets, such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China, which will see significant growth in the next decade.

But I travel so much that sometimes I can’t help but feeling I really belong to the second tribe — i.e., those who live in one city but work in another, yet instead of using a car to commute, they do it by air.

We call these travelers “tribes” because even as they dash into the future their behavior is a throwback to tribal times. Yet that behavior is likely to shape the services airlines will deliver in the coming decade.

One example:

* New airline technologies may let travelers conduct virtual-reality “walk-throughs” of airports before they leave home.

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Here’s another that piqued my interest:

* Airlines may be able to “sense” and monitor travelers who need medical or healthcare assistance at any point along their journey.

How airlines will be able to do the latter covers way more ground than I can travel today.

But here’s one example of how airports are already doing more to assist the third grouping of our traveling tribes, “Active Seniors”:

“Mini-Clinic and Pharmacy Right There in Terminal C”

Suffice it to say that each tribe’s special needs will mean special opportunities — not just for the airlines but for the entire travel industry — to tailor special solutions that will improve your travel experience, lasso customer loyalty, and restore profitability.

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Tribes will redefine the way airlines serve us all.

It’s just a matter of time.

Airline Futurist • Miami • rbuckman@amadeus.com • www.amadeus.com

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