TIILTS: Making Traveler Profiles Social

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy way for updating your traveler profile?  Regardless of which travel agencies, online sites or airlines you use?  A place where any travel supplier could – with your permission – access your most current profile data and use it as needed?

Hello, Facebook!  Why not hang a module on Facebook where you could post your profile, your preferences, your frequent flyer numbers – all those details that are a pain in the butt to update today – and make that the one place for suppliers to look whenever they need your data?

Let’s assume the significant data security issues could be solved.  Now you’ve got a way to automatically update the entire travel industry whenever you need to change something like your address, phone number or seating preference.

Just imagine all the new travel supplier friends you’d make!

I see Facebook as the natural place for storing personal profile data, and LinkedIn for storing a traveler’s corporate data.  Stuff like authorized access to the corporate discounts and rates, and the traveler’s organizational hierarchy data.

You’d probably need two keys to control the LinkedIn profile data – one held by the individual, and one held by the organization she claims to work for, but that doesn’t seem unreasonable.

So why is this any better than storing your profile data in a GDS?  How about freedom and control.  You’re free to update your information anytime, regardless of the travel agency you use, or the travel agency your company uses, or the GDS that your travel agency uses. Switch any of those today, and you need to pound the keyboard – after you track down all your frequent traveler numbers.

Using a social traveler profile, you control what information goes in, and which suppliers can use it.  Keep in mind that a number of airlines and hotels don’t use a GDS, so those folks will need your profile information – each one of them. Why bother with all that duplication of effort?

In this socially-driven world we’re living in, this idea seems like a logical connection to make.  And if you’re still not convinced that this idea has merit, see this post by Martin Collings on “f-commerce”, where “f” is for Facebook.

TIILTS stands for Travel Innovations I’d Like To See.  This is the second in a series of posts.  The first TIILTS post covered the use of reward points in corporate self-booking tools.

LinkedIn users are welcome to join the TIILTS group. You’ll find a faster flow there of innovation-related posts.

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7 Responses to TIILTS: Making Traveler Profiles Social

  1. Beth Kyle says:

    I think the idea of making travel – both leisure and corporate – more accessible to social networks is great. Although the assumption that ‘the significant data security issues could be solved’ is a rather weighty statement. Facebook’s record alone on data privacy of its users shows that social networking has a long way to go when addressing enterprise level user support.
    On the whole, you are correct that profile storage needs to be moved from the GDS to a more accessible and universal place, but I don’t know that social networks, let alone one for business and one for leisure is where I would hedge my bets. An open standard of storage and web service connectivity would probably be the best place, at least from a corporate perspective.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention TIILTS: Making Traveler Profiles Social | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement -- Topsy.com

  3. Theo Szymanski says:

    Hi Scott, another interesting and informative blog post – thank you.

    As you may know, Trondent’s been in the profile technology business since 1994. ProFILER Express, our web-based profile management system, gives TMCs and corporations the ability to build their own web-based profile forms, assign customized URLs and publish them to the Internet – all from within the convenience of their browser.

    Using Trondent’s embedded ProFILER Sync technology, the master traveler profile that is housed within ProFILER Express is immediately synchronized to any number of GDSs and/or OBTs. In short, ProFILER Express is entirely GDS and OBT agnostic. If a TMC chooses to shut down one OBT/GDS and activate another, it’s very easy for us to turn off one faucet and turn on another ~ so to speak.

    Also, from a security and data privacy standpoint, our application is PCI compliant, as well as being TRUSTe and Safe Harbor certified. In view of the fact that we deal with a number of Fortune 500 companies and major financial institutions, as you can appreciate, this is a minimum requirement.

    Our ultimate goal has always been to establish ProFILER Express as the travel industry’s universal, centralized profile management system that ultimately keeps a business traveler’s preferences, loyalty numbers and payment options, etc. in sync with any travel distribution system, either direct or indirect.

    I’m not sure whether corporations would want their traveler profiles housed within Facebook, when you consider the data privacy risks. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Facebook fan… but I’m not sure whether Facebook offers the right framework based on the emerging needs of corporate profile management.

    • Scott Gillespie says:

      Theo, thanks for adding to the discussion here. Sounds like your tool is B2B…what would it take to make it B2C, and get widespread adoption? Perhaps consuming some of Facebooks, or LI’s data via their APIs? (assuming permissions, of course).

  4. Alan Minton says:

    Great idea Scott.

    This seems to be a bit like what TripIt has done with the ability in TripIt Pro to track your points and share your information with your own defined circle. They have all the information that exists in the traveler profile. It seems to me that all they need to do is open up the pipes for sharing. Maybe a comment from Scot Hintz or Greg Brockway is in order.

  5. Pingback: TIILTS: Socially Aware Reservations | Gillespie's Guide to Travel+Procurement

  6. Tom Tulloch says:

    I believe that having a universal profile that sits outside of suppliers, the GDS’, OLBT’s, and OTA’s is a fantastic idea and it’s a worthy problem that many have attempted to solve over the years most have been unsuccessful. Unfortunately I agree with the pundit posts about the safety and security issue. Corporations spend a fortune ensuring the privacy of their travelers PII information only to be undermined by the “Facebooks” and “TripIts” of the world who open up personal information to the world (While I understand that you can supposedly control who can see what I am highly skeptical about these claims. I would rather see Linked In offer this type of functionality and offer it up to users including the “option” of linking to Facebook and other apps/sites within the profile preferences rather than seeing Facebook offer the solution, if you think “Facebook” is a trusted app/site just ask that poor woman who was slamming her employer to friends and family thinking her posts were private only to be exposed and ultimately lose her job. The folks who would benefit most from a utility like the one described would be frequent business travelers. The ability to point your profile anywhere you like and update it in one place while it goes out and updates any app/site/itin tool is a great idea but why stop at Travel? I’d like to see something similar for Healthcare.

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