What is powering these technological innovations? Digital transformation has reached the tourism industry and is gradually changing jobs and customer relations, it is important to understand that technology is not an end, but a means, and that tourism is an individual experience, often shared on- and offline. Technology that is used and developed within the travel and tourism industry – is revolutionizing the way in which we travel from using your mobile phone to check-in at the airport, to a key card opening your hotel room, innovations as big data, mobile technology and the Internet of Things among others.
Technology has fostered a change in the travel and tourism industry regarding how companies interact with customers. Today, travel companies are adopting various technologies to improve operational efficiencies and meet customers’ expectations, according to leading data, analytics company, travel companies are using various technologies to engage with customers at every stage of their journey. Travel still revolves around meaningful human interactions so to be successful; companies need to create a balance between the technological innovations and the human element, improving the customer experience must always be on the back of travel and tourism companies’ minds when investing in technology.
We need to consider how humans are evolving in the context of a society deeply impacted by technology and at the same time, how the business world and the markets all work. And one key to understanding this whole change is that technology permeates the reasoning and experiential part of the brain much more powerfully and markedly in the new generations. In these current era of digital evolution, generations understand their environment and the tourism experience differently: some people live in the moment, interacting with all five senses at an individual level, others share it with their close friends and family, and still others do all that and also share it on social media in real time.
Global travelers want an alternative, local experience. Authenticity is the most talked about trend in the industry as consumers are gradually being transformed from ‘tourists’ to ‘travelers’; they want to experience authentic local cultures and live like locals. Technologies play a key role in connecting locals with tourists and we see a growing number of players leveraging technology in an attempt to capitalize on key tourism trends. Depending on their interests, travelers can meet locals who are masters in arts and crafts and learn about traditions, activities, cuisine and the culture of their destination. The platform gives travelers the opportunity to meet people that would otherwise be impossible, undertake unique and authentic activities and hence gain a genuine insight into a different culture.
Technology presents us with a different reality, it works exponentially. If you take one step, you advance one yard; if you take two steps, you advance two yards; but if you take a third step, you will travel twice the distance as in the previous step, that is, four yards. And so it goes: four steps, eight yards, etc. It is true that traveling for ‘culture’ and visiting key historical sites and monuments remain very popular. Players across the industry, including cities, tourism boards and museums are increasingly investing in apps that provide visitors with information and tips in order to plan and enjoy their trips. Some of them are going a step further by embracing virtual and augmented reality for booking and buying processes, plus adding a new layer to learning experiences. In addition, many museums are incorporating VR in apps to facilitate a more interactive experience.
Trends to watch out for in travel and tourism now and in the future
Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR): The past few years have seen an increase in AR or VR popularity among travel and tourism companies, and the trend is set to continue. These technologies are being used either for content marketing or to enhance the customers’ experiences. For example, airlines have started using VR technology to show travellers the cabins in advance, in order to increase ticket or ancillary services sales.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is behind many evolving technologies and innovations in the travel and tourism sector. The ways in which it helps the industry can be classified into three major categories: Machine Learning, ChatBots or TravelBots, and Robots. Thanks to AI, operations which usually require human intervention and a lot of time to learn new skills, can be automated, thus speeding up processes, while improving quality and performance, and decreasing costs.
Internet of Things (IoT): IoT has a lot of potential to shape the future of the travel and tourism industry, and companies have started to realize that. An example of an industry player using IoT to reduce anxiety and stress levels associated with lost bags is Lufthansa. Passengers can track their baggage via a link found on their mobile boarding pass in the Lufthansa app.
Wi-Fi connectivity: When travelling, people want to always be connected, either to get destination ideas, options regarding places to visit or eat, find directions to points of interest, or share their experience with friends via social media or other connectivity platforms. As a result, investing in network services helps companies offer a more seamless and highly personalized experience to customers, boosts operational efficiency, real-time decision making, strengthens the physical (via CCTV) and the cybersecurity, along with data privacy.
Article by: Blessing Bassey