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There’s a bug in my soup that everybody can see

Google Glass to have major impact on hospitality & tourism industry

 Professor Ajay Aluri

When Professor Ajay Aluri travels to Los Angeles next month to speak at HITEC, the world’s largest hospitality technology show, he expects it to be a game changer for B&E's Hospitality & Tourism program.

Aluri’s presentation will discuss the implications Google Glass will have on consumer behavior within the hospitality and tourism industry – which are vast – to hospitality technology experts from more than 300 companies from 55 countries. Aluri was an early recipient of Google Glass through the Explorer Program, a selective program that allowed individuals to purchase an early version of the wearable computing device.

“It was a great opportunity. To be selected, it had to be innovative because (Google) wanted to send it to those who could influence others. I told them I wanted to do research on Glass and its impact on hospitality, specifically cyber tourism,” he said.

According to Aluri, technology is rapidly advancing from Web 2.0 (or the “social web” Internet users have come to know and love by way of two-way communication and user-generated content like blogging), to Web 3.0 (also known as “semantic” or “intelligent” Web), where computers and devices like Google Glass will generate raw data on their own.

“Web 3.0 is going to change the way we use the web,” Aluri said. “The web will learn about you from what you are searching. It will learn from your schedule, from what you like and dislike. We are in the initial phase right now, and although we don’t really ‘get it,’ businesses are already beginning to implement it.”

Aluri said Web 3.0 will take reviews of hotels, restaurants and vacation destinations to a new level. Instead of logging on to a computer or smartphone to type in a review, customers will be able to instantaneously upload their comments to the cloud using technology like Google Glass – without so much as the touch of a button.

“Those in the industry aren’t always seeing the consumer point of view,” he said. But Glass’s point-of-view technology would allow the Internet at large to literally see if the venue was living up to customer expectations. “If you don’t do business well, it’s going to impact you some way or another via social media and technology. It’s challenging businesses to not make mistakes.”

But the achievement of high praises and threat of bad reviews for businesses aren’t the only ramifications Glass will have on the industry. Glass also has great potential to shape cyber tourism (a virtual substitute to a physical experience) and improve the traditional customer experience. But Aluri admits it may be a while before the full benefits of the new technology are commonly felt.

“Glass is a cutting edge technology, but it’s too early for some people,” he explained, saying that even in Google’s home city of San Francisco, there are people who do not embrace Glass. “There are privacy concerns that will have to be dealt with. Adaptation may be similar to what we saw with social media in Web 2.0. But it boils down to (customer) preferences for convenience. How convenient is it for you when the web knows what you’re about to search? What if your Glass gave you maps and recommended restaurants and tourist attractions ahead of time?”

Aluri hopes that part of his research, which studied whether college students would pay to use Google Glass, will be a catalyst that puts Google Glass in the mainstream.

“The reason I did this (research) among students is because if a technology is to get to a state where everybody embraces and buys it, I think it starts with students,” Aluri said. “They’re on-trend and have the future purchasing power.”

Not to mention, once these students graduate, they can join companies that revolutionize industries like hospitality and tourism using new technologies.

“My goal out of this research is to connect with some of these companies in high tech. Young people like our students who are really familiar with (technology) and can come up with new ideas of using it is what the industry needs,” Aluri said. “From a faculty point of view, we need to do research that is important for academia, but it should also impact the industry and society as a whole. This is a big deal for our program, there’s no doubt about it.”