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The Travel Experience and the Influence It Has on Travel Tech

Travel experiences are unique for each human being. What’s fun or enjoyable to me, might not be so for you.

There is a lot of travel data out there that’s already hard at work. However, there’s a lot more information that tells of the subjective experience of travelers. Unfortunately, much of this is not yet digitally accessible

If you are not figuring out how access to this information, then your product will become become irrelevant.

The Subjective Aspects of Travel

At a recent DojoLive! episode we ended up talking about the subjective aspect of the travel experience. This got my attention.

This came in the context of understanding the value of a travel data with Layton Han, CEO and David Morrow, VP of Global Marketing at Adara.

For example, language barriers, urban surroundings, social interactions, and personal preferences affect the travel experience. Travel tech product companies should realize this.
The question is how to measure these things. How can they be made to yield useful data that would help benefit users?

“If they learn about their customers, they are going to be able to give them better experiences.”
— David Morrow

Unique Experiences

Travel experiences are unique, memorable, and personal. They are multi-sensory, emotional, and transformational. They shape the quality of a great travel experience.

Companies like Airbnb, BestDay, as well as OTAs and chatbots already make travel easier.

Software companies need to move beyond this paradigm. Travel is much more than reporting about the price of hotels and the number of flights between point X and Y. It should also about people and culture. It is also about how travelers see others.

You can see this in travel blogs, videos, and social media posts. These help make travelers and their friends active participants in the experience.

For example, bloggers tell stories that are useful in understanding the subjective dimensions of travel. This is a way of understanding non-visible and rarely stated elements in the travel experience. Travel software companies and their customers will benefit from catching this information.

“Data is not just about learning more about your customer. You’ve got to be able to act on that as well.”

— David Morrow

Subjective Turned Effective

The subjective aspects of the travel experience must become a focal concept in the travel tech world.

Booking a room and finding a plane ticket are only part of the experience.
The deeper, more telling part of it comes from the stories travelers tell as they enrich, evaluate, and reflect upon their experiences.

Yet, a lot of this information remains inaccessible and travel tech companies. They’ve so far failed to take into account travelers’ actions and perceptions of events. This means that they miss out on how these turn into memorable experiences that are personally meaningful.

With Machine Learning these un-measurable information will, hopefully, become more accessible digitally in the near future.

Travelers are not just numbers and stats on a spreadsheet. Tech travel companies must figure out how to incorporate the plethora of stories that travelers leave behind. It won’t be easy, but it’s critically important.

After all, taste buds, quirks, and moods vary in over 6 billion ways.

“It’s really the people factor. Making it work.”
— Layton Han

Travel Tech in a Shrinking World

Mobile technology and travel software platforms bring people together like never before. They surely make the world seem way smaller and more accessible.

These new technologies have indeed reshaped and redefined how we move about. It has affected how the tourism and travel tech industry operate as a whole.

VR, AR, Video: the Tip of the Travel Iceberg

Some examples of the types of technologies I’ve seen emerge are immersive video and virtual and augmented reality. These technologies are making the travel experience even more exciting. Destinations that were once uncommon, are now much more approachable.

Norway, for instance, had not precisely been always considered as a regular destination for many would-be travelers. Leveraging immersive video this cold and beautiful country is increasingly raising awareness of all that it has to offer. Norway can show potential visitors it is one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries in the world.

Virtual reality (VR) is another breakthrough technology for the travel industry and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now. Through VR experiences, destinations, hotels, and airlines can entice travelers by allowing them to explore what they may experience. VR can ease the fear of the unknown and change perceptions about cities or countries across the globe.

Like VR, augmented reality (AR) is changing the way people travel. AR has the potential to create increased exploration on a micro level.

Pokémon Go, the AR gaming app that swept across the world inspired gamers to go outside and chase down virtual Pokémons. Players go to new places and discover things about their city or neighborhood that may have previously overlooked.

AR is about getting people up off the couch and into new, sometimes odd, places. It can certainly spur activity, motivate discovery, and produce changes in trends and habits.

New Languages

Translation technology is creating new lines of communication and eliminating language barriers. From programs such as Rosetta Stone to the Google Translation app travelers now have the tools to immerse themselves in a culture and interact with locals.

Imagine sitting in a French café with no knowledge of the language and attempting to order dinner. Previously, one would open up a pocket-sized English-French dictionary and flip through pages to try and understand what a Confit de Canard is. Now, travelers can use an app to scan the text on the menu and have it translated in real-time.

Translation technology creates a better understanding and deeper appreciation for new places.

Machine learning algorithms that erase language barriers are empowering travelers to interact with their surroundings. They eliminate one more barrier to visit foreign destinations that were not previously in the consideration set.

Sharing Platforms

The ubiquity of sharing platforms is also fueling travelers’ confidence and allowing them to be more exploratory. With ride-sharing services like Uber a seamless and consistent global experience is accessible to travelers. It takes away the stress of hailing a taxi, trying to provide an address and directions when you don’t speak the language and worrying about being overcharged. Even the need to carry around stacks of local currency is being eroded as mobile payment platforms become more advanced and available.

The Future

All these technologies are transforming the ways we move about our neighborhoods, expanding the destinations we seek to visit, and enhancing the level at which we engage with our surroundings. Technology has made the world more accessible and removed the fear of exploring exotic, far off destinations. It allows travelers to experience the place before they visit and immerse themselves into the culture once they arrive.

This new age of global migration is fueling the next generation of travelers and creating new opportunities to reach and engage with them.

Travel Beyond Tech

There might be even more astonishing technologies in the the future, like hovercrafts, autonomous cars, and the Hyperloop which will forever change how people travel. But what’s more important today, is how technology is changing the way people view and think about travel. So, when these inventions hit the market in a few years, the desire and mindset will already exists to make them mainstream.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Inbound, Outbound…or Peoplebound

In the tech world – and then some – running a successful business is about making things happen in a way that works for both the service provider and the client.

You need to get the word out, somehow, though. There are many ways and tools to do this quite inexpensively and effectively.

Some say that Inbound marketing is the way to go. Some others favor Outbound marketing instead. There might be folks who like one a bit more than the other, depending on your marketing team’s traits.

I personally feel better suited for Outbound marketing because it relies more on communication and soft skills. But both are effective and pair up nicely.

There has to a better term to describe reaching out to potential clients that does not rely solely on digital tools, stats, and conversion rates. One that is a bit more comprehensive in every way and includes a shift in mindset.

I believe there is. And it should include the People Factor.

How Is Nearsoft Different?

We are a software engineering firm with quite a unique culture, to say the least. We’re a democratic-style, people-centric organization. At some point during our early stages, we realized that our company’s business model was different.

In the software engineering world, when reaching out to potential clients, lots of folks are still stuck in the outsourcing mindset. So we, as a marketing team, have had to think of ways to convey the notion of why we are different. And that’s basically because of our culture, and the way we self-organize as a flat organization.

In fact, it was not unusual to have several conversations with a prospect before they really got it. Part of this was the lack of an alternative model and part of it is simply a matter of vocabulary, since there was really no specific term to describe how we do what we do.

So we thought of adopting a new term.

Bound Towards You

I believe that our business model as a software company will continue to grow, because the way software is made today varies substantially. The idea of coding software by a captive development team is simply not sustainable and can’t compete in the long term.

Software companies have felt compelled to be all about their product or service when it comes to branding, operations, and their culture. In our case, this was a little bit different.

Or a lot.

So, marketing-wise, I have started to adopt an easy-t0-remember term to differentiate what we do and how we do it. The term is Peoplebound.

Our brand is all about the people who create software. The same goes for operations, communication, recruiting and culture. And – of course, for our clients.

Peoplebound

Inbound and Outbound as marketing strategies are more easily identifiable because both approaches entail well-known digital tools. The Peoplebound approach, however, is more about a specific attitude, a demeanor when using said digital tools that entails soft skills. And not just thorough knowledge of platforms, databases, analytics, and even offline marketing.

Peoplebound is about caring about others, and properly conveying it in a non-invasive manner. It’s about focusing on what matters to the client. It’s easy to get “sucked” into what will generate higher conversion rates and increased traffic, but in the end, what you really want is true, long-term engagement as someone who can be trusted.

Your ideal client is someone who “gets it” and understands your drivers, your culture, your mission and philosophy. Who values more than the cheapest vendor and places value on great solutions and excellent service and common-ground affinity.

Reach the Right People at the Right Moment

Peoplebound is about connecting with the right people at the right moment, and absolutely delighting them with relevant, meaningful, and helpful content.

The real question isn’t “How can we compel, seduce, or trick our clients into engaging with us?” Instead, it’s, “How loyal are we to our customers? Do we truly care about them?” Not just as targets, consumers, or fans. But as people. Human beings.”

Peoplebound is about educating. It’s not about brainwashing with irrelevant, interruptive messages, nor is it just about “going viral” without truly connecting. A Peoplebound strategy is about providing value, not just pushing out information across email, social, and beyond.

Are you constantly sharing links to your articles or are you forging relationships and conversations?

When discussing a marketing strategy—don’t forget the human aspect. Clever ideas, clickable headlines, and trendy topics aren’t going to get you long-lasting, loyal clients who want to come along for the ride.

At Nearsoft, Peoplebound is about what truly matters. We’re bound to you.

For some examples of how Nearsoft creates Peoplebound content check out DojoLive! And the #ILookLikeanEngineer initiative.

If you wish to know more about Nearsoft and what keeps us up at night, reach out to me at [email protected].

Good Communication Means Great Software Products

If your U.S.-based software company is looking for a great remote team to work on your product, making sure that everyone speaks English fluently makes perfect sense.

You want to make sure that your development team abroad is fully capable of communicating in your own language coherently.

Having a good command of the English language may not be enough to make you happy. Your development team must avoid sounding as a crockpot full of crickets.

Lack of Practice Makes Rusty

As a software company based in Mexico, we realized since day one the importance of everyone in our development team being bilingual. Over time our thorough English-screening interviews have been enhanced by a new program.

The enhancement began with an internal Hangout. Since some of us had prior experience as ESL instructors, we decided to get together every week to help our fellow teammates practice their English skills at a session which we affectionately called The English Dojo.

This has grown to be a full-fledged Communication Enhancement Program that is now led by a team of 10. It is called the CEP, for short.

The CEP initiative is currently comprised of three components, all of them created by Nearsoftians for Nearsoftians,

  • The 1-on-1 coaching sessions or “dojitos”
  • A self-paced online learning platform, and
  • The weekly Humpday Hangout, which is a 30-minute group check in at a Google Hangout where coaches makes themselves available to answer any of English questions and to help with any other communication needs in a lively, casual conversation.

These tools have proven to be more than effective to make sure that everyone in our client’s team is up to par with their communication requirements.

Going Beyond English

As the company has grown, we have made a few findings in communication matters. We have recognized the value that working out a few key issues brings to the table.

One of these realizations is that great communication entails more than just having a decent command of the English language.

It involves other aspects such as soft skills, cultural awareness and body language, to mention just a few. These aspects are covered thoroughly within the framework of our CEP program.

The CEP motto says it all,

We seek to forge a culture of effective communication and provide added value to our community by making us confident and connected to ourselves and our clients.

What This Means for You, the Client

This initiative helps our teammates in more ways than one.

For example when they,

  • Role play for an upcoming interview
  • Proofread a presentation
  • Practice conversing in English
  • Make sure they are comfortable in a Hangout

But what does it mean for you?

First and foremost, ease of mind.

You can know for a fact that the communication cycle will be complete. You can rest assured that other aspects of your interactions with your team in Mexico will have strong foundations when it comes to delivering specs and even when other more subjective elements enter the equation, such as cultural affinity and awareness, team assertiveness, diplomacy and confidence.

Turnover will be less because of a strong relationship with your team, and in general, your team is better armed to provide an outstanding service. Be it as engineers, scrum masters, QA testers or recruiters.

The Ultimate Goal

There are many things that could be said about why good communication is good for business.

And particularly, for your business.

But this is one of the more relevant ones, in our case,

It helps both parties, you and us as a company, in mutually sharing what’s truly important to achieve a remarkable software product creation experience.

That would be the ultimate goal of great communication.

If you would like to learn more about Nearsoft please send me a message to [email protected].

4 Ways Software Helps Travel Agencies

Many travel agencies started a long time ago. The successful ones have gone from paper systems, to today’s Internet. It’s been quite a journey. For travelers, too: from physically going to an agency to easily booking a complex trip right on your phone.

My father’s friend’s agency has gone through all it, always facing the next challenge.

Evolve or perish.

Booking a Seat on Noah’s Ark

When I was a youngster back in the eighties, my father had a friend who owned a travel agency in my hometown. He used to help us with our travel plans and plane tickets. Back then, most transactions were conducted over the phone and by looking at inch-thick reference guides. Computers were clunky. The web as we know it had not even been conceived, let alone travel booking software!

Then, in the mid-nineties, I saw some efforts being made in selling reservations online. But during peak times, servers would crash. Would-be travelers like myself would then have to pay a visit to the airline’s office to make a reservation, or grab the phone and reveal possibly sensitive information to a live agent.

A New Era for Travel Agencies

Eventually, my father’s friend got into the “groove” of the then-new technologies. He was old-school and reluctant, but he did. And his agency and his travelers won.

He is still around, approaching his nineties. When I asked him and his son about the takeaways, he highlighted these lessons.

1. Cuts Waste and Hassle

The travel search-and-book landscape looks very different today than it did back then.

  • Availability check and instant confirmations eliminate email exchanges between guests and reservation agents.
  • Valuable reservation staff time is saved because reservation requests no longer has to be processed.
  • Guests can check availability and book instantly, thus booking a trip without having to wait for a human to confirm.

2. No Third-Party Involvement

“There are other benefits for us, agencies,” he said. Most Online Booking Manager products are “commission free” systems, installed on our own server, the reservations system is under our sole control.

  • Agencies collect all payments directly.
  • They can easily update their own services descriptions, facilities, prices, allocations, etc.

3. Easy to Update

With Online Booking Manager products, agents no longer have to ask a website designer to update tourist services prices on their website. They can now update them themselves.

4. Reliability and Efficiency

Online Booking Manager reservations systems are easy-to-follow, with uncluttered screens and prompts. Administrators have access to a simple online pane.

The staff loves the auto-generated confirmation emails: it saves them so much time!

Evolve or Perish

With the growing trend towards Internet-based bookings across the industry, online bookings from websites are increasing dramatically. With Online Booking Manager products you will be at the forefront of this industry bookings trend.

Just like my father’s friend’s business, which started 40 years ago and it’s now going strong towards the future.

If you would like to learn more about Nearsoft please send me a message to [email protected].

Triggers in Software Development Outsourcing

As a non-engineer, I am always trying to understand what might trigger software companies to consider working with teams beyond their office walls. And I now realize that there is never a single specific reason for this.

Here are the basics you need to consider.

Not Just a Numbers Game

There are several reasons why a software company may consider a remote development team. Including,

  • Optimizing budgets and costs.
  • Gaining access to expertise.
  • Freeing internal resources.
  • Increasing efficiency for time-consuming tasks.

Beyond the financial benefits, there are many other reasons for working with a remote team. Leading technologies and practices, accelerating time-to-market, and adding the expertise that high-quality development teams bring to the table. And then there’s the quality of the results.

Beware when a company boasts mostly about “the lowest rates in the industry.” That might be true and their main competitive advantage. But how will they perform? Will they deliver the results you need? Will their work hold up in production? How much rework will your local team have to do?

You may have to pay a lot more than originally expected just to clean up the mess.

Everything You Pay For

Total Cost of Engagement (TCE) includes everything you pay for, beyond the hourly rate.

For instance, when a company is hiring its own in-house developers the TCE includes their salary, taxes, retirement, etc.

On the other hand, when you have a remote team your TCE includes visits to your partner offices, usually in a far away place. This includes the cost of traveling, accommodations, and meals for every person who makes the visit: key developers, project managers, etc.

Building the Team

A significant part of your investment goes towards hiring people for your team.

For real savings, make sure that the company you work with does all the heavy lifting of sourcing, interviewing, and finding people with a culture fit to your needs. It’s not easy to do, but it’s ultimately worth it.

You don’t want to end up reading through piles of resumes and doing all the recruiting work yourself. Might as well hire direct in that case.

Instead, make sure that your remote partner understands your company values and the profile of your team. Only then can they save you money, time, and effort when it comes to growing your team.

Experience

“Years of experience” is overrated. A dev with 10 years of experience is not good if he is also a jerk to everybody in the team. A 20-year veteran who grew up with and still loves Waterfall is going to clash with your Agile team no matter how “experienced” he may be.

MONEYBALL: The right mix of “underdogs” can outperform a team of “superstars” any time.

Rather than years of experience, look for fit. Make sure your partner is going to build your team with developers who are going to add value from the get go. And not just on the technology side. The Moneyball approach works for software teams, too.

Companies which can point to happy, long-term customers will more likely make you happy, too. Even more so if they already work with companies like yours or in a similar industry.

Length of Engagement

Are you doing a project or building a product? This is a very important distinction you have to be very clear about.

If you are building a demo or a prototype then you best handle this as a project. There’s no long-term impact and the quality of the code itself is not important.

Even if you are doing some User Experience (UX) research, it can also be handled as a project. The results are important, but you don’t need a permanent team for this.

On the other hand, if you are building a product, then you want a team that’s signed up for the long ride ahead. Everybody must be committed to its long-term success. Don’t make the mistake of doing this as a series of short-term projects. It will cost you more in the end, in more ways than one.

In Summary

When looking to grow your development team, these points in mind,
Clarify your company’s goals and objectives.

Concentrate on your partner’s values and ethics; make sure that these will be aligned with your own.

Be sure to find out what technological innovation and expertise your technological ally can bring to your project.

Make sure that everyone single person involved in the process is truly happy and enjoying the ride.

Most importantly, make sure that you hand-pick a partner that that you can trust and work with for the long term.

Would you hire you?

If you would like to learn more about Nearsoft please send me a message to [email protected].

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