The Future of Business Travel

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Wall Street Journal - 12 December 1998

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"Business Travel: Firms are Zapping Costs" - Weekend Travel page Wall Street Journal Europe 12/12/98

Global-change Guru Dr Patrick Dixon recently demonstrated to an audience his vision of future travel. He held up a sharp needle and asked if there were any takers for an injection. A glass case, the size of a grain of rice, is injected into the arm. The tiny object contains a chip and a power generator activated by radio-waves outside the body.

It stores passport, ticket and credit card information that is automatically recognised as you walk through airport controls. No need to carry any sort of card or paper. Such technology may take a while to catch on, however - and no willing hand was raised at the International Hospitality Industry Conference in Lausanne....

"A Guru's Vision of the Future"

Lausanne: Here's a look at the travel industry in the 21st century through the eyes of UK global-change guru Dr Patrick Dixon. In a whirlwind speech recently at the international hospitality industry conference hosted by Lausanne Hotel School, the author and director of London's Global Change Ltd gave delegates a whiff of a much-changed future.

Forget about traditional travel organisations: in the twentieth century they will disintegrate, as there will be a massive move to cheaper direct Internet-booked travel and to cheaper competitors using cyberspace to set up garage operations that undercut prices....

An office in the air. Airlines will have to supply power sockets under every seat because businessmen cannot afford to stop working in the era of cyberspace where a one-hour delay can mean the loss of a billion-dollar deal...

Be prepared for the feminization of the presently male-driven business travel market. In the 21st century women will account for around 50% of travelling executives - with consequences for the travel industry. It means for example that hotels will have to provide adequate light and large make-up mirrors in bathrooms; replace male waiters with females if a woman objects to a man coming to her room as is the case in some countries; and think twice about the male-orientated pornography available on television screens in hotels because many women see it as an offense.

Hotels will instantly recognise the needs of customers. After one stay at a hotel, personal idiosyncrosies will be recognized throughout the global chain. Dr Dixon likes to have a marmalade sandwich before going to bed. Whatever country he is in the marmalade sandwich will be supplied without him asking. When he walks into the bathroom, a voice will ask if he wants his bath run; and the water will flow at the temperature he wants. He likes the smell of toast: a toaster will be waiting. "Hotels will have total knowledge of their client," he suggests. Oh hum, that might not please everybody. If not, says Dr Dixon, the intelligent hotel knows it; and doesn't anticipate needs but is alert for the expected call.

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