Archive for December, 2010

Great example from reader on baby steps Virtual Travel is already taking!

I got feedback from a reader of my Virtual Travel book. Though I do address this in the book, I probably should have taken it further.  Here’s their very insightful suggestion:

“I really think that adding something about the younger generation and their increasing level of comfort with “virtual” things in general is really going to expedite this revolution and I believe it will lower the barrier to entry. I believe that is something you might want to use in your lectures on the matter. I will share with you a story about a long distance relationship where the woman is a few cities over from me in Europe. While we can see each other every couple of weekends, we video chat on skype generally nightly and we interact throughout the day if we see something interesting we take a snap with our smart phones, add a short caption and shoot it off on email. Like snow in the square in Paris, etc. Even though we are apart, it allows us to share those life experiences as though we were there. Now, I’m gen X, not gen Y, like she is, so I’m a little slower on the uptake, and I’ve never tried this before, but its amazing… its leaps and bounds above what you can do via phone and email alone.”

I thank this reader for this excellent example!  I hope others will share as well.

That’s it for this week. Short and sweet. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season and a great 2011!

Virtual Travel Impact on Architecture and Contruction

Last week I talked about how the evolution of virtual travel would likely affect the travel industry.  But, it’s not just the travel industry that will need to learn and change.  So will the architecture and construction industry and a number of others.   The way commercial real estate and even residences are designed will need to be completely re-thought.  Take the special case of hotels and how they are presently designed.  There are many sleeping rooms, significant conference  space, restaurant capacity, catering capacity, etc.

In the future, if a much larger number of people travel virtually to meetings, fewer sleeping rooms and square feet of traditional conference space will be needed.  Ditto the number of meals in hotel restaurants or in event spaces by catering.  If more knowledge workers can use virtual travel technology to be completely effective without going into their employer’s locations, then those companies will require fewer “physical” offices, cubicles and traditional meeting rooms.  The lessee’s of these large commercial buildings will begin to see tenants reduce their demands for physical space with each renewal of their leases.  As new buildings are designed and developed, they will need to be smarter, smaller, and more flexible.  At some point the only buildings that will need to have the workers show up physically is for things like manufacturing, converting raw materials into finished materials, and the like.  But, the knowledge workers, i.e., the white-collar workers, will very rarely have to make a trip into an office.  This will not be the same thing as today’s attempts at telecommuting.

Although even with today’s basic technology, telecommuting is making an impact for some businesses bottom line, even though to date, there is no discernible reaction by the architecture and construction industry, aside from a smattering of telepresence studios in the most forward thinking corporations.  For the longer term as virtual reality technology matures, knowledge workers will be able to collaborate with as many of their colleagues, customers and suppliers as they wish by using the same technology will provide an “as if you were there” business travel experience without leaving your home town.  This will be a game-changer for a far broader and deeper set of industries and businesses than one might think.

Ask yourself the question, would you physically commute to work if you could work from a location within a short walk or even from home (eventually) and have a more productive, rewarding experience than if you physically traveled?  I know what my answer would be.

Where will the travel industry be in 20 years?

Since I wrote my virtual travel book, I’ve been asked many times where I see the travel industry in 20 years. Though detailed predictions that far in the future are difficult to make, I do go into quite a bit of detail in the book.

And, it’s too much for a blog, or even a series of blogs. So, here, I’ll focus on the major transport aspects of travel, i.e., airlines, rental cars, and public ground transport. I’ll go into hotels, as well as architecture and construction in my next blog.

As virtual travel takes hold, I believe that in 20 years, the available market for traditional passenger travel by airlines, rental cars, and public ground transportation will be smaller, possibly significantly smaller, despite continuing population growth.

• There will be a clearly discernable and possibly significant reduction in the number of airline passengers.
• Airlines savvy enough to adapt will increase “non-human passengers”(i.e., freight) to take up some, though certainly not all of the slack.
• There will be a reduction in the number of flights, airlift capacity, number of employees and other aspects of their operations.
• Airline revenues will be down, and profitability will almost certainly continue to elude them all.
• This will have a domino effect on the aircraft manufacturing industry.
• Fewer departing passengers will mean fewer arriving passenger to rent cars. Local car rentals will not make up the deficit.
• As with the airlines, rental car companies will have reduced the size of their fleets, number of employees and other aspects of their operations.
• Rental Car company revenues and profits will be down, although profitability might continue to a point as they downsize.
• This will have a domino effect on the automobile industry.
• Local mass transit will have seen a ridership reduction
• The same will be true for taxis, buses, and other forms of ground transportation
• Public Ground Transportation revenue and profits, or contribution to profits will also be down.

Finally, and alarmingly for these industries, the trend will continue downward from the 20-year mark.

In the book, I think I make a logical case for these basic predictions.  Although all of you are certainly free to disagree. Check it out if you are a doubter, or if you’d like to get more rationale.  And please, let me know what you think!