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A new report from a leading travel industry research firm describes technology as a leading driver of change in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. Technology and the innovations it creates “is at the very heart of the travel industry,” according to Bob Offutt, senior technology analyst and editorial director at Sherman, CT-based PhoCusWright, and one of the factors that will help it recover from the financial crisis and ensuing recession.

PhoCusWright studies the ways travelers, suppliers and intermediaries connect for clients including major hotel chains, airlines, car rental firms and investors. It just released the 2009 edition of its annual Technology Trend Predictions, which identifies the trends likely to “reshape the way consumers search shop and buy travel.”

Although the recession has dampened demand and deflated asset values, industry experts participating in the second annual Cornell Real Estate and Finance Roundtable last November noted that opportunities still exist for both investors and operators. Participants at the event, conducted under the aegis of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, concurred the industry is in a better position to weather the economy now than it was in past downturns because it is “not awash in excess supply additions.”

According to the report from PhoCusWright, the industry will also benefit from technology. The report concludes:

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