Is social seating the future of business travel?

Get ready for a new buzz word in 2014 – personalisation. Next year consumers will start to see the impact of brands trying to create an individual experience in the battle to win customer’s hearts and minds. Nowhere will this be more evident than in travel where social seating is the latest addition to the trend. Clarendon finds out what this means for travellers.

There is nothing worse than queuing to get on the bus/train/plane, waiting patiently to get to your seat, trying to store away your luggage in the tiny space that’s left and then finding out who you’re sitting next to. All seasoned travellers dread being stuck next to either a screaming baby or travelling companion with an ample posterior capable of edging into personal space.

Up until now this has been one element of the journey we have no control over, even though it can have a significant impact on our enjoyment of the journey or even satisfaction with the travel company we are using.

Imagine a different way. Imagine an opportunity to choose your travelling companion, perhaps someone interested in the same things as you, or similar business networks for the chance for a little networking. A friend or kindred spirit could make a long journey fly by.

This trend is actually closer than you might think. Social seating integrates your travel booking process with your social networks. Travellers book a seat based on their ability to see nearby passenger’s social media profiles; their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. It’s an opt in service so it depends on permission whether everyone is visible. Yet it opens up the opportunity to sit next to someone who might be able to discuss business opportunities, someone you want to work with in the future or have done in the past. It also offers the opportunity to avoid people who may negatively impact your journey.

Whether it works or not the integration of social network profiles into travel booking could have a far-reaching effect on the rest of the travel industry. Already there are apps and networks making it easier to meet like-minded people close by when you’re away on business – for both commercial and more leisurely pursuits. But if you can book your ticket next to someone you want to talk to then why not your serviced apartment? Already business travellers can choose short term or extended stay accommodation in a location that suits their visit then why not go one step further? Choose an apartment next to a prospective client or customer, someone who is interested in the same outdoor activities so you can share days off during your business trip? Maybe just being able to choose an apartment close to a quiet neighbour or away from a young family if the business traveller is worried about noise.

It might seem an alien concept to the quite reserved British traveller but increased personalisation within the travel industry means more opportunities like this will be possible. Clarendon is interested in seeing how the latest in technology can make a more pleasurable and hassle-free travel experience for our customers. If personalisation means helping travellers get the exact accommodation and type of stay they need then we think it’s a great idea.

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