Advancements in technology not only make business more efficient, they can also lead to improve lifestyles... and sometimes both!
Platforms such as Yelp and Angie's List enable consumers to interact with each other and their sellers in real time. Consumers can offer reviews on products and services that they have through their experiences--both positive and negative--and this often carries significant weight to future purchases. In fact, some studies show that as many as 90% of Yelp users say that positive reviews impacted their buying decision. This has led to a renewed focus on customer service.
Take the travel industry. Expedia, one of the largest online travel booking websites connects travelers with deals on airfare, hotels, car rentals and other vacation packages all in one place. AirBnB, an online marketplace that connects homeowners looking to rent the unused spaces of their homes to travelers in 190 countries, has also rattled the travel industry. Even venerable Arthur Frommer, who literally created the travel guidebook industry by publishing Europe on $5 a Day in the 1950s, has launched Frommers.com.
The latest is brettapproved, a recently launched travel-focused website for people living with disabilities. It was designed to assist mobility-challenged people across the globe. The site boasts the world's first-ever algorithm-driven, scalable review and rating website devoted to serving the needs of travelers with disabilities. Brettapproved is like an Angie's List for travelers with disabilities.
"There are more than 300 million people worldwide living with a mobility challenge," explained Brett Heising, the company's founder and CEO. "Globally, tourism was a $1.5 trillion industry in 2014, and travelers with disabilities represent roughly 11 percent of that market, spending $165 billion worldwide."
Moreover, travelers with disabilities is a market that is expected to see a gradual increase over the next several years. According to a study, nearly 24 percent of the total U.S. population is projected to be disabled and more than 15 percent will be severely disabled by 2030.
Early next year, brettapproved is expected to unveil the first booking engine and mobile app to accommodate the growing market by allowing users with disabilities worldwide to book hotel rooms that have been tested and endorsed by their peers through trusted reviews. This will enhance the travel experience for those living with disabilities and is a great example of how startup businesses are working towards improving the quality of life through technology.
"Travel review sites are not new, but our approach certainly is," explained Heising. "Knowing what to really expect when you book a trip, and the ability to make informed choices in advance, is crucial to travelers with disabilities." The Uber and Lyft business models as technology companies have transformed the landscape of transportation.
People interested in traveling can arrange a pickup and drop-off service within their fingertips on a mobile app. An Uber driver in the area will pick up the interested travelers within minutes and users can track precisely how long it will take thanks to its integrated GPS system. Fares are predetermined in a range and will be charged to the credit card synced to your account, an added convenience to users.
Innovators like brettapproved are transforming many industries through the incorporation of technology. For instance, in banking and finance, institutional lenders--credit funds, insurance companies, family funds, and other yield-hungry, non-bank financial institutions -- have emerged as a force in small business lending. Advancements in technology have enabled them to crunch numbers in a swift, cost-effective manner to determines the likelihood of defaults and enabled institutional lenders to offer competitively-priced financial products to small business borrowers. Other industries that have not fully embraced technology are likely to follow suit.
Increasing numbers of companies are embracing Apple Pay to handle their sales transactions, and even retailing giant Wal*Mart is trying out a smart phone payment option. Technology continues to change the way that we conduct business while making our daily lives easier. Expect more startups in service industries to emerge as a result, which will continue to support the growth of our economy.