Published on June 8th, 2013 | by Charu Suri
1 It’s All About “Search”: Terry Jones, Founder of Travelocity, on Innovation
In a worldwide survey of adults born after 1982, results found only 26 percent of their bosses are doing enough to encourage innovation.
Creativity and ideas are the lifeblood of the millennial generation, and I was curious to read Terry Jones’ perspective on innovation in his new book On Innovation, which talks about the current travel search landscape, among other ideas. I was surprised at how many pearls of wisdom simply leaped off the page in the first chapter. Although designed for entrepreneurs and those in the workplace, the book has ideas that are perfect for the self-employed because it urges constant creativity and innovation.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com said, “the only danger is not to evolve.” Terry Jones talks about how he started Travelocity in 1996 which looked at the beauty of online search and how it could help travel customers. This was during the time when airlines got smarter about search and invited customers to look directly at their websites (instead of using third parties). Like blogs and self publishing, idea of travel search and bookings became increasingly the province of individual consumers.
Jones addresses failed business models (remember Tower Records, and now the sadly diminishing Barnes and Noble bookstores?) and the power of digital forms of media like Apple’s iTunes and Kindles. It’s hard to believe that Amazon’s primary sales now come from e-books and Kindles, not hard cover books: this is mind boggling to me who grew up with the beauty of the paperback and hardcover book, but even I find myself gravitating to the ease and simplicity of e-books and Nooks.
Jones’ tone is very friendly and down to earth in his book, but his storytelling is what makes the book a compelling read. He frankly talks about search and innovative ways to bring search results to the consumers (this is why Google and other search engines are trying to produce customized ads just for you, based on the type of information you search for). What is the common theme throughout the book is the fact that unless you’re creative and can change, you’d better forget about competing.
Not too long ago, agents had a way to compare prices and access to special insider information which allowed them to offer competitive prices to consumers while booking packages. Today, that’s certainly not the case (and I’ve written recently about Momondo, that brilliant flight search engine which provides a feature called Flight Insight that allows you to see which specific day in the week you can book to get the best fares—the first of its kind).
Obviously, what all this means is data crunching: a lot of consumer history and numbers is needed to make search appealing and useful to the consumers. This is why hotels that are taking into account customers’ previous bookings and requests will succeed in the future. This is also the reason why businesses are tapping more into bloggers and other ways to get their brands noticed on the front page of Google. It’s about the magic and power of search.
Jones talks about the internet and how that’s the ideal “location, location, location” that was previously the mantra of bricks and mortar retail stores. His book is a brilliant guide for anyone believing in the power of innovation, from writers, businessmen and more.
To take some nuggets away from this book: innovate, persevere, follow-through, allow yourself to fail, and prize quality over quantity. And as Alan Arkin says, allow yourself flexibility: “anything you’re rigid about, sooner or later, the rug will be pulled from beneath your feet.”
Jones’ book is available on Amazon.com and his website and is a good read for anyone who wants to spark their creativity a notch or two.