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Amazon’s “Mayday”…for Travel?

Help Travelers Now!This is a guest article from Drew Meyers.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is considered the most brilliant tech executive since the late Steve Jobs, by many. That’s why I put so much weight on the most prominent part of Kindle’s new commercials being…the Mayday button.

Click the button, and you’ll instantly get a live human to help you. The premise being that a live person will increase their conversion rates.

What if you had a “Mayday” button that gave you access to a trusted travel expert, in the same fashion?

You’re in a foreign city, lost, frustrated, and just want someone friendly to give you the right answer or recommendation. You’ve likely been there, more than once given you’re a travel industry veteran. I know I have.

There’s nothing quite like “Mayday button” in travel, at least nothing I’ve seen. Some startups are on the fringes. Locish allows you to ask a question and tap their network of local experts for custom tips. While planning a trip, Think Places allows you to speak to a travel expert to make the most of your trip (I worked on a similar idea at a Startup Weekend a year ago); a Clarity.fm for the travel vertical. And, of course, there is Google Hangouts, which I’m sure will eventually get into the travel vertical in a bigger way (do a search for travel planning now, and you won’t get many results).

Sure, a big chunk of people say they like travel planning. I’m not one of them. I’m convinced that travel planning is one of the areas, where travelers will change their tune when they experience the right solution. It’s just that no one has figured out the right solution yet, at scale. Push a button, and instantly be talking to a trusted individual that can answer your specific travel questions based on your travel profile.

As with anything else, visualizing the end game isn’t truly innovative. The innovation occurs by turning today’s technology, products, people, and business landscape — and turning that into the final product offering. The scale it will take to turn this idea into a reality, is beyond considerable. That said, I’m convinced someone will figure it out in due time.

TripAdvisor? Expedia? Priceline? Orbitz? Starwood? A well funded innovator from the outside? Or Google, Apple, or Amazon?

It wouldn’t surprise me, if Amazon was the one that delivers on this several years from now. Amazon is the commerce search engine of choice, why not let you buy vacations there as well. Most every traveler has a Kindle, and it could sure be turned into an amazing piece of travel advice with the right network of experts behind it. Mayday for Kindle is going to help Amazon figure out the model for something they undoubtedly know really well – the Kindle. They know the future of search is real time advice, from real humans. Once they master Mayday internally, they will launch it in other verticals.

Drew is the co-founder of Oh Hey World. Global nomad originating in Seattle. Ex-Zillow community builder. Social Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Find him on Twitter @drewmeyers.

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