What the global travel industry can learn from Spotify

I’m pretty happy when I’m winding my way down a Marin County road with a great tune blaring in surround sound.

I’m also a fan of Spotify. They seem to know me, anticipating that on some days I may want classic rock, and on others I want to discover an obscure Indie-rock artist. They’ve also got a business model that the travel industry needs to pay attention to.

The Spotify “publish/subscribe” model is impressive. On Spotify, publishers publish their song and album libraries to the platform. They get compensated when subscribers (people like you and me) stream songs. It’s a simple and friendly model for publishers that has allowed Spotify to rapidly grow its music catalog. On the other side they’ve created a great experience for users that allows anyone to get access to a massive catalog at minimal cost.

I think of Spotify as a real-time marketplace for content, with millions of simultaneous transactions funneling content from publishers to subscribers. Spotify has both a free, advertising-supported model, as well as a $9.99/month premium service with no ads. Either way, consumers get access to a massive library of content that no audiophile could ever match if they were buying each album, and all in one place. On the other hand, publishers get compensated for their content and get access to millions of new consumers who otherwise may not have wanted to pay to own the album or may have never discovered it in the first place.

From a user-experience standpoint, Spotify has done a great job. They use machine learning to target the most appropriate content to you, and they pull that content from their vast repertoire of publishers. The more you listen, the more that Spotify learns which music you will find appealing. They even populate a “Discover Weekly” playlist to explore songs they think you’ll like based on your diverse listening habits.

While there is no song that will ever make me ecstatic about a middle seat on a crowded airplane, the travel industry has a big opportunity to fuel better traveler experiences with data.

With a “publish/subscribe” platform for the travel industry, imagine how a travel provider, marketer, or any innovator could leverage data from across your journey — the full catalog, if you will — to create a better travel experience. Couple that data with your own actions and choices, apply the latest in machine learning, and that same company would be in a position (finally) to think ahead like you would, anticipating problems and offering solutions that make the most sense for you. Publishers get compensated for content, subscribers get access to tremendous amounts of data, and travelers get improved experiences — everybody wins.

The travel providers that innovate early will have a big leg up when it comes to brand experience and loyalty. The volume is about to get turned up on travel’s experience age.

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