Today’s travellers face a quandary. Increasing numbers of online travel services are now available to anyone with access to the internet, but most are poorly integrated and not personalised. To make matters worse, hardly any are accessible to the traveller during the journey and none detects and proactively informs the user of disruptive events relevant to the traveller’s specific journey and then proposes appropriate trip options.
What is needed is a “virtual travel assistant” service that accompanies the traveller before and during each journey, providing personalised, context-aware information and support whenever, wherever and however needed.
This is one of the key aims of the European i-Travel project, which has been launched to bring about the integration of e-commerce and internet technologies to create the first B2B “eMarketplace” in the traffic and travel information services sector.
Providing a ready market
Not only would such a development aid travellers, it would also provide content and service suppliers with a ready market of travellers needing instant delivery of content and trip support.
Content providers currently face considerable difficulty in reaching out to more than a small number of potential end customers, while service providers need to find and negotiate separately with a huge number of potential content providers to offer a comprehensive end-to-end service for travellers.
In the absence of standards, content and service suppliers develop proprietary, “vertical” solutions to deliver their products, and then find they are locked into a relatively small proportion of the potential customer base. One consequence of this proprietorial approach is that the form and content of travel information sources varies widely, making them difficult to integrate.
The i-Travel system concept is NOT to create a single centralised entity that would do everything, but is rather to develop an open platform allowing connections among existing entities, in order to provide context-aware, mobile, on-trip event-based information and trip re-scheduling to travellers.
i-Travel will identify and outline the technologies needed to realise this solution, and begin to bring together a supplier community that could deliver such advanced services in pilot-scale demonstrations in a number of European and emerging-market cities.
Roadmap for seamless travel services
By the end of the project, the i-Travel consortium will have outlined a “roadmap for seamless travel services”, detailing the important milestones along the way to bringing this vision into being. Such a roadmap does not exist today, and there are conflicting views on how best to organise such a world-wide traveller service platform. Work within the project will address these issues and propose an approach for both creating and then implementing this roadmap.
For further information on the i-Travel project, click here.
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