The humble TV could become the next travel research tool

There are plenty of channels, platforms and devices for today's travellers to research their next adventure or holiday destination - from reading travel blogs and review sites on their tablets, to browsing social networks such as Pinterest or Instagram on their smartphones. But the latest technology expected to influence holidaymakers uses something that's been sitting in our homes all this time: the television.

Now we're not talking about Teletext Holidays, here (for those of you old enough to remember it), but a new type of tracking technology that can identify the location playing on screen. Not only that, it can work out how you would get there, and even the best places to stay.

Imagine sitting back at home enjoying your favourite programme, travel documentary or movie. An amazing city, beach or vista comes into shot, and you think to yourself "I would love to go there". Well, you could simply pause what you are watching, and ask your smart TV to find out all the details for you.

It may sound like something from the future, but this technology is already under development, according to a recent article on the BBC News website.

The current pioneer in this area is Madrid-based travel company called Amadeus. Noticing that there was a peak in search activity for Jamaica during the ad break of a show where the main characters visited there for a weekend, the team saw a golden opportunity.

With US airline carrier United Airlines on board, they started exploring how the technology behind smart TVs such as Apple TV could be exploited for the travel market. The premise is that GPS location tracking would be embedded during the filming process, along with integrating airline data into the code, so that viewers could access this information while watching their television.

Personalisation is something that modern travellers have come to not only prefer, but expect. And as Rob Sinclair Barnes, strategic marketing director for Amadeus' IT Group explains, very soon personalised technology "will become so sophisticated that travellers will be offered what they want, when they want it, before they even need to ask".

He also added that "massive growth and spending" is currently being seen in this area, as travel companies strive to improve the customer experience and enhance customer loyalty. He feels that this trend is a positive move for the entire travel industry, "as it will stimulate continual technology advancements and improve the experiences for everyone".

However, there are some barriers that could prevent this technology from becoming mainstream. Even though it may seem effortless when an app or social network recommends places for you to visit based on a recent photo that you 'liked', achieving this level of highly personalised, integrated marketing is no mean feat.

As Andy Taylor from IT research firm Bloor explains, getting a single view of the customer and anticipating their future behaviours requires "accurate and easily accessible customer data" - something that few airlines have.

Another question worth asking is whether consumers even want this type of invasive marketing, or if they would disrupt their viewing to use the TV as a research tool. With most people now using multiple screens at once - for example, watching TV while browsing their smartphone - perhaps a better option could be to integrate the marketing with mobile devices?

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