Monday, April 12, 2010

New Website

I am pleased to announce the launch of the new Travel Tech Consulting Website at With the launch of the new site I will be discontinuing my blog at traveltechnology/ as the new site incorporates my blog, Twitter feed and company information. Here is the new RSS Please visit for more information on Travel Tech Consulting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Airline Twitter Network Analysis with NodeXL

Travel Tech Consulting, Inc. and Connected Action Consulting Group LLC have put together a brief video presentation that provides insight into network analysis for airline Twitter feeds using the open source tool NodeXL. Network analysis goes beyond simply monitoring brand or promoting specials using social media. Network analysis allows travel companies to understand who are the key influencers in the network and how they connect with others. For example, it is not necessarily the user with the most Twitter followers or Tweets at a travel company needs to follow, but it is how the user is connected to others. The video uses United Airlines and Delta Airlines Twitter feeds as an example.

Analyzing Aviation Social Media Networks with NodeXL from Norm Rose on Vimeo.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Yes UA Breaks Guitars Does Impact Loyalty

My wife's Facebook friend recently posted this message declaring that she does not fly UA because they break guitars. I recently spoke at the EzRez Thought Leadership Conference and I mentioned the now famous YouTube video which has received over 8 million viewings. A question from the audience was simply whether people would change their flying preferences because of this type of video. As evidenced by this blog entry, it has changed some people's attitudes.
Social media has been so hyped it is easy to forget that it is in some ways an extension of the most effective type of advertising, word-of-mouth but on steroids.
In a recent article, Travel Weekly columnist Richard Turen stated that United now uses Dave Carroll's video as a training device. Another recent story mentioned that David's bag was lost on a recent UA trip. (I guess he returned to United after all). So though the songwriter seemed to have forgiven UA, his video legacy lives on and continues to influence the blogosphere. Of course David's next song may be, "United lost my bag" considering his most recent experience.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Splinternet

Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff recently posted a blog regarding the end of the golden age of the Web and the rise of the Splinternet. As it name implies, the new environment consists of multiple devices with content and audiences fragmented across these platforms.
What does this mean for the future of travel distribution? This represents both a challenge and opportunity for travel marketers. The splintering of platforms and content means that a travel supplier or intermediary can no longer expect their single Web presence to be enough to communicate with their customers. The opportunity comes in the ability to personalize the experience based on the customer segment and platform capabilities. We've seen this already where unique iPhone apps have functionality such as augmented reality that only applies to a smartphone device. The whole downloadable app phenomenon provides the delivery mechanism to enhance this personal relationship with the customer.
New platforms such as the iPad and other tablets coming to the market will continue to cause the need for multiple development paths but providing unique experiences that are only possible based on the nature of the device is also a new opportunity. In a talk this week at Stanford University, Chris Anderson, Editor and Chief of Wired Magazine predicted that the tablet would eventually replace the lap top as the primary mobile computing device. As part of the Conde Nast publishing group, Chris was very bullish on how the tablet provides the immersive experience of a magazine while the flexibility and endless content of the Web. The true power of these devices will come in new applications that have yet to be developed.
The traditional travel industry players has always been slow to embrace new technology allowing new entries to capitalize on it and build solid businesses. One just needs to look at the dominance of the four major OTAs to see how this has happened on the Web. Why didn't American Express become one of these major OTAs? A similar phenomenon is happening in the mobile world with new entries such as TripIt gaining momentum (and investment) offering itinerary management and mobile travel services. With the advent of the Splinternet, the travel industry must embrace this new multi-platform and multi-content world and drive innovation or be a victim of losing control of the the customer to new market entries that understand this opportunity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

IPhone Hits the Enterprise

With eWeek reporting that 70% of the Fortune 500 are evaluating iPhone for the enterprise, the corporate travel industry needs to take note. From my view the debate is over regarding download verses mobile Web. Transcoding your Web page for the mobile browser is still important, but the value of a downloadable app for a company's brand and the ability to personalize the interaction with the customer is unmatched. The phone is becoming more and more of a sensor (accelerometer, compass, temperature, etc..) . The penetration of the iPhone in the corporate market is making a downloadable iPhone app for travel companies a priority. Apple has announced record profits and the iPhone is a big part of this. Apple's success in the corporate market is directly due to the consumer acceptance of the device.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Social Media - Understanding the Community

With the growth of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, social media monitoring and promotion have become a major activity for most travel companies. The goal is to listen to the social networks and respond to issues around a company's brand. The other major effort is to use fan pages and Twitter feeds to offer limited-timed promotions. Both these activities are essential social media 1.0 tasks, but there is a lot more analysis that can be implemented to identify connectivity among community members, key influencers within the community and overall community trends. To achieve this next level of analysis BI tools that examine social networking are required.
As mentioned in a previous blog, one such tool is NodeXL. This is an open source Microsoft Excel plug-in that can be used to create a visual community map of everything from your Outlook contacts to your Twitter feed. The visualization allows you to understand relationships between community members. Are there individuals who everyone connects to, but who connect to few? If so , these people may be key community influencers, but how do you influence them? As you can see this only touches the surface of social networking analysis.
I am pleased to announce a new strategic alliance, with Marc A. Smith, PhD of Connected Action Consulting Group. Not only is Dr. Smith the creator of NodeXL, but he is an experienced social scientist who uses his sociology training to offer clients a deep understanding of their online communities with specific recommendations on how to implement strategies to protect and grow a company's brand within their community. Travel Tech Consulting is pleased to offer Dr. Smith's services in conjunction with our travel technology and online expertise to offer clients the next level of analysis of social networks.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Travel Innovation

As most of you know I was intimately involved with this year's PhoCusWright's Travel Innovation Summit. I have been tracking both new media and traditional coverage of the event. I wanted to provide you some feedback from the inside as well as some comments on the overall subject of innovation.
First let me acknowledge the hard work of my colleague Bob Offutt in being the creative force behind TIS and for managing the entire process. Bob and I interviewed over 50 applicants for the TIS. Our criteria was pretty straight forward- we were looking for true technology innovation. Often the applicant offered a business innovation, but lacked the technology component and thus were rejected. We heard from traditional as well as start-up companies. TIS is not a start-up - "get funded" event. It is designed to provide a forum for all industry segments to present their technology innovation.
The underlying themes from the TIS finalists are clear: (1) A better Web air shopping experience is needed (e.g. Amadeus IT), (2) Globalization of the Web is a complex process and requires some advanced technology (, (3) Consumers continue to shop multiple Websites for a given trip and a social shopping tool can simplify the information gathering and sharing (Gliider) (4) Mobile technology is changing the way people experience travel (Global Motion). There were also presenters who demonstrated innovation in social media monitoring, leisure travel planning and integration between cable TV and the Web experience.

I have seen a few blog posts which criticizes the event as not being very innovative. Other comments have focused on the fact that the winner of the TIS 2009 event was Amadeus, IT certainly a major existing player, not an innovative start-up. Expressing one's views is certainly part of the fabric of the Web, but often bloggers or journalists miss the underlying process that goes into building an event such as TIS and are quick to criticize.
Let me comment on two particular articles:
1) Arnie Weissmann- Editor in Chief for Travel Weekly - " The Travel Technology Gong Show"
Arnie voiced his view that the show lacked true innovation. As I look at my in box at the pile of unread Travel Weeklys (I pretty much only read the online version), I find it ironic that this traditional bastion of status quo thinking would provide such a negative spin on the TIS. Much of the work as a consultant I done over the last 14 years has been with traditional travel players both in the leisure and corporate market. Often these traditional travel companies lack an understanding of online trends and rarely demonstrate true innovation (at least not without our help). In discussions with traditional travel agents as part of various projects, I am always dumbfounded at their lack of Web savviness. Many have poor Web presence and still take the majoirty of reservations offline. Since Web travel took off we've lost about 50% of traditional travel agents. Considering the rapid pace of technology innovation whether it it is improved air shopping , globalization, consumer shopping tools or the mobile revolution, traditional travel companies continue to lag. Rather than being critical of the event, Travel Weekly needs to better verbalize the underlying trends demonstrated at the TIS and educate their readers on how to deal with these technological changes.

Contrasting this with UpTake's Travel Industry Blog " PhoCusWright 2009 Travel Innovation Summit" . In this blog entry Elliott Ng's one of the founders of UpTake goes into great detail about many of the presenters highlighting their innovation and value to the industry. Granted UpTake is truly a Travel 2.0 star pioneering semantic search and adding value to the planning process. But both Elliott and Yen Lee the other founder of UpTake have spent many frustrating years at traditional companies trying to drive innovation in their travel offering, and founded UpTake to truly implement their vision of a better travel search approach.

In my career I have worked at large and small companies. Innovation at large companies often require a "skunk" project. This is an initiative not necessarily supported by senior management but driven by individual groups who drive the innovation. This was truly the case with Amadeus IT and thus end product results were very impressive. I do agree that small companies often innovate at a faster pace than traditional players, but often lack the funds and management experience to execute. Innovation is the key in driving improved interfaces and processes in the travel industry. The PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit is an essential place to monitor and track this innovation.