Technology

Opinion: MVP is the way of the future for the tourism industry

Drew Bowering, Senior Director of Market Management, Expedia Group

Earlier in the week, I participated in an industry panel event alongside fellow technology and travel industry experts, discussing the most prominent opportunities for Australian businesses.

The consensus. Technology. Often thought of as intimidating for independent Australian businesses, our industry conclusion was that instead – technology was levelling the playing field for small business to compete on a world stage.

A key point of the discussion was the progressive shift from investment in legacy technology to a minimum viable product (MVP) model.

It’s fascinating that since Eric Ries published the MVP methodology in The Lean Startup, companies, big and small, seem determined to work out how to achieve the innovative maneuverability of start-ups.

Taking financial services, the most compliance-driven industry for example. The MVP way of innovation is already happening. We’ve already seen or perhaps have benefited from using P2P payment to split bills with friends or pay groceries with BPAY or Apple Pay.

And now, banks in Australia are switching to real-time payments to cater consumers’ needs for instant settlement. Then, how about the hotel industry?

In my role working alongside hotel partners every day, I’m often asked, ‘What’s the next big thing?’ ‘What’s the key technology we should spend our money on?’ My advice is that there isn’t one, and you shouldn’t.

That’s because the pace of innovation is changing how businesses deliver and meet ever-evolving consumer expectations.

I would argue that with technology evolving at a rapid rate, there is more value in Australian hoteliers solving problems quickly in order to satisfy the ever-demanding customer.  Sometimes that even means sacrificing perfect for practical.

When we talk about innovation, I’m a true advocate for attaching any effort to the question: “What do you need to solve your problem?” It’s the problem-solving approach that allows us all to get a little bit better, every single day.

Where hotels can occasionally falter, is this desire to invent rather than re-invent. By that I mean, focusing a lot of time, effort and investment on new technology, instead of delivering the improvements that meet consumer demands of today and tomorrow.

As nowadays consumers spend more and more time online, doing everything faster and in real-time, the expectation for automatic and efficient processes continues to increase.

Flexibility is becoming increasingly important, and in turn, so too is the need for companies to innovate at speed. Faster and more frequent innovations have outpaced the need for something new and never-seen-before.

No matter your industry, the growing consumer expectation is that businesses become the personal concierge of the customer. Take travel for example.

A typical millennial will change their itinerary during the booking process by 20 per cent compared to the original travel idea. The travel industry has recognised these changes and has increased the pace of innovation in order to keep pace with customer needs.

What’s evolved as a result from industry leaders, is a constant development of new ideas, testing, observations, evaluations and improving the next version. Most imperatively, attitudes where we accept – and even embrace – the fact that not all processes are perfect at the beginning. But rather, that every change leads to new insights, which in turn have a decisive influence on the next step for our industry.

At the heart of this innovation process is solving a problem. Within the supplier side of our businesses, that’s partner feedback, for other operations it’s the consumers.

Either way – speed is everything. The problems our partners have today may not be relevant in two, three or four months’ time. So, we find out problems and develop the MVP so that our partners get to put those solutions into effect sooner rather than later.

Personally, I’d argue that there is no value in spending three years on one piece of technology that is already old tomorrow.

While our test and learn philosophy led us to carry out around 200 tests in 2011, this figure had risen to over 5,500 by 2017, which in turn led to more than 22,000 further product developments. This means that we get better every 24 minutes for our customers and travel partners.

I believe doing is better than discussing – and it’s a valuable approach that all Australian businesses, no matter the size – can apply.

Ask yourself what problem you need to solve, then apply a test and learn approach. Make the shift from one big thing, to many great small ones.

Make observations, create a hypothesis, get your minimal viable product out there, and then analyse the data obtained. And of course, repeat this process. Repeat it time and time again.


Drew Bowering is the senior director of market management at Expedia Group

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Aviation

Aviation wrap: Qantas-American Airlines JV gets approval, Air Tahiti Nui’s new ANZ structure + MORE

Since last week’s aviation wrap, two things have happened: a cargo plane load of news has made its way to our inboxes, and green tea has been proven as no substitute for double-shot espressos.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

UK government to investigate environmental cost of travel and tourism

by Christian Fleetwood

With Travel DAZE just around the corner (and a fab early bird deal on tickets up and running) comes this sustainability-related announcement out of the UK.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Uluru custodian says climbing ban critics need to see things from Anangu perspective

87 per cent of people who visit Uluru choose not to climb, but critics of the decision to ban the option have been vocal. Here’s what the Anangu people want them to understand.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Man calls in bomb threat so he can ask flight attendant on date

Just when you thought dating in 2019 couldn’t get much weirder, we bring you a 65-year-old who dealt with being rejected by preventing his flight attendant crush from leaving the country.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

REVEALED: All the winners from the first-ever CATO Awards

Congrats to all the winners at the inaugural CATO Awards! Congrats also to our editor, who yesterday completed the 1kg schnitzel challenge at our local pub!

Share

CommentComments

Events

Tourism

New category added for The Travel Awards!

The chances of winning at The Travel Awards have just become even greater, with a new category added to the 37 already in play!

Share

CommentComments

Technology

STUDY: Online reviews a top source of information when booking trips

It looks like your clients may be searching for a second opinion when it comes to hotel and experience recommendations.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

G Adventures Change Makers Challenge is back for 2020

That’s right, folks, the adventure travel company’s life-changing incentive is running again with a new mystery location to boot!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

British Airways suspends flights to Cairo

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has updated its travel advice to Egypt in line with this move by the UK airline.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Tourism

NTIA 2019 winners revealed!

Did you attend the NTIAs as a finalist but got so blind that you can’t remember if you won? All is revealed here.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Passenger cops $150,000 fine for “one of the most serious cases” of flight disruption

Turns out there are serious consequences for disruptive mid-flight behaviour, especially if it’s so bad that you prompt a military escort like this woman did.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Industry heavyweight urges stronger regulations for commercial Airbnb operators

It turns out around 50 per cent of Airbnbs are commercially run, as opposed to travellers renting out their space or uni students listing their cupboards for a quick buck.

Share

CommentComments