You could argue 2018 was a confusing year

Loading 2019You could argue 2018 was a confusing year. We’ve seen new entrants into the market, a lot of buzzwords beaten to a pulp and predictions previously done for 2018 fell short. This doesn’t mean nothing happened (quite the contrary), it just means that the world lost interest — or something more interesting came up.

I ran back to 2018 predictions to figure out what was said back then. And a graphic produced by Alan Young in early 2018 came to mind showing the top trends predicted for 2018 by number of mentions:

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Artificial intelligence (AI)

  • Skynet is so yesterday and every company on the planet now has the most advanced cutting edge off the planet AI engine powering anything from self reading books to pre-packed ready meals.
  • Truth is: a lot has been done both good and bad: Meet Norman

Personalization

  • Seems like Personalization is not good enough — we have to go Hyper (“To anticipate an individual’s desires at any point in time”). But did we truly go Hyper or did we just put 1 and 1 together and got some basic facts together?

Virtual Reality (VR)

  • Well that one kinda fell flat. Cool stuff when you are into gaming, but very little mainstream action going on though as we still have to find that reason to put on the gear….but that will change in 2019!

My personal view back then was slightly different to the above with the two key parts for me playing out in 2018, that is my predictions in December 2017 for 2018:

The rise of chatbots: my words were “Chatbots automation, not full sexy AI stuff”

  • More and more chat-bots are coming online with hotels now starting to embrace the Virtual Concierge set within. Companies like Hoperator have started to take it to the next level and Booking.com said that nearly 50% of post-booking engagements happen through bots.

That it would be the year of the PMS, with many hotels switching to new players,

  • A lot of good movement with newcomers now starting to transition to established players, therefore, taking on the old world order. Mews secured a new round in 2018, Bookingfactory making big inroads in the independent sector and disrupting other spaces through ChannexFDA integrating revenue management for their customers….and many more.

Enough about 2018 though. Let’s crank it up for 2019 and see where the world is going:

We are moving from the year of the Dog to the year of the Boar and mark my words: 2019 will be a year of change, real change. A year we will look back at to say: oh boy, this was the turning point. We are just meters away from breakthroughs that will define the way we do business, live our lives and interact with each other.

Here are my top 5 predictions:

  1. Birth of the new socialising
  2. Gen Z — The Digital Native will rise and shine
  3. Revenue Management 4.0 — Embrace the Citizen Data Scientist
  4. The dawn of the Virtual Assistant
  5. Blockchain will lose its buzz but will change our life

Birth of the new socialising

“Hey, how about we go shopping in Paris?”, “Fancy skydiving from your couch?”, “How about a quick rollercoaster ride before bedtime?”, “Not sure about Hot Air Balloon ride or Boat ride on the lake?”

Those are all questions that we already can give answers to. Whilst gaming has made huge strides in regards to full on experience in VR, it still requires a powerful computer coupled with a headset that is expensive and might not always be the most comfortable to wear. All items that will change with new gear coming onto the market, most notably with Facebook releasing their new standalone headset, Quest. At a price tag that is affordable, an experience that is unforgettable, with friends you never met — perfect!

We will experience a supercharge in digital socialising. A lot has been cooking and a lot will come together, most notably in VR and AR. If you haven’t noticed, e-sports has taken off and is a huge business, hotels are starting to add Virtual Reality Headsets to their Front Desk and Tours & Activities are starting to embrace the far reaching of the experience.

There will be a few areas that will start getting mainstream attraction into VR and AR:

  • Pokemon Go is still active. Yup, you heard right. Revenues are going up, player levels increasing and Gen 4 has been released. 2019 will see more and more AR games coming to the market and connect people in ways we never saw before. For me this is a bit like plane-spotting. You instantly can have a topic with people you have never met, yet you are connected and at that point in time have the same interest / purpose.
  • Facebook / Instagram with 360 degree photos. Can you imagine stepping into a picture and having others join you at the same time? Being able to talk and interact? A bad time for status updates but a real cool time to catch up with friends.
  • Online to offline commerce — Let’s go virtual shopping and get it delivered to your door the next day. This could be the “Abandoned cart killer” and also allows global reach for anyone/ anywhere. We will start using our phone 2 dimensional — time for 360 immersive experiences, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for more. Part 2 — The Digital Native.

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