5 Technology Trends Every Travel and Tourism Business Needs To Invest In 2019
If we look at the sheer number of customers involved, the travel and tourism sector is one of the world’s largest industries. Back in 2017, it was a USD 1.6 trillion industry worldwide and over 1.32 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded worldwide according to emigration agencies. With such a phenomenal target audience base, businesses that want to flourish in this sector from hotels to travel companies to flight and cruise operators are continuously seeking new differentiators to win customer loyalty and survive profitably in the face of intense competition. And the competition is not just from peers in the industry.
Today, there are thousands of technology companies that have transformed the conventional travel and accommodation experiences for the common man by shifting the power of choice to the consumer from the hands of the service provider. To remain viable, traditional players in this industry have also shifted their investment priorities to technology that helps them provide better services with lower costs.
There has been a paradigm shift in how the travel and tourism industry works. What was once a monopoly of travel agents, today an end customer has the freedom to chart their own travel itinerary, arrange every necessary and ancillary service throughout their journey and ensure hassle-free travel experiences anywhere in the world.
The best part is, they can accomplish all this from the comfort of their homes using just their mobile phones. The proliferation of smartphones and a large digital savvy guest base necessitates players in this industry to continually invest in technology platforms that help them connect with potential customers across all channels, be it booking offices or online portals.
Today, we shed light on the top 5 emerging technology trends that travel and tourism-related businesses need to keep a close watch and invest wisely if they want to remain successful. Here are our picks:
1. Mobile Friendly
Did you know that over 47.96 percent of global web page views have been from mobile devices alone? This implies, that irrespective of which travel or tourism service you offer, you need to ensure that every presence you have for your business on the internet needs to be mobile friendly. Additionally, businesses need to ensure that they offer customers access to critical services on their premises through smartphones. An example would be a hotel offering customers to book ancillary services like spa, cabs, recreational activities, restaurant, and in-room dining services, etc., through a mobile app rather than having to call up the reception to do so.
Some of the world’s most premier hotel chains have gone one step further by creating smart room keys that help guests unlock their rooms with just their mobile phones or a wearable device like a smartwatch. Even more, if such services can be offered by integrating the hotel’s technology back-end with popular services that users already use will ensure greater customer satisfaction as they need not download another app on their mobile phones to use the new feature.
Related Reading: Find how realtors are winning tenants with innovative mobile apps.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Gartner predicts that by 2020, consumers worldwide will handle 85% of their interactions with a business without the need of a human agent. For the travel and tourism sector, customer engagement and the subsequent experiences are critical for continued success. AI can be a game changer in this regard. By serving multiple roles ranging from a virtual assistant or chatbot, AI enabled platforms to help businesses keep their businesses open to customer queries 24 X 7 without dedicated human staff.
Considering the fact that the travel and tourism industry is a global sector with business opportunities available without time zone restrictions, AI becomes even more special. By using machine learning, AI systems can study user behavior and offer automated recommendations and services during interactions for booking a cab or tickets to a nearby destination and so on.
AI can also help businesses automate much of their intense manual data management jobs like generating reports for management, staying compliant with local and regional laws, facilitating verification of guest background and biometrics and much more. The list is endless and in the coming years, AI will turn into a significant contributor to profits for key players in the travel and tourism industry.
Related Reading: Read on to know the top artificial intelligence trends of 2019.
3. Immersive Visual Experiences
What if you could offer a virtual tour of your hotel or resort or a popular tourist destination where your business operates, to a potential customer in another country? Well, this is possible today, thanks to the advancements in immersive visual technology like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR). It can be used for virtual simulations of travel destinations and accommodation facilities and even for interactive content marketing campaigns. With hardware costs going south every year, more users would buy devices that facilitate such experiences.
The popular Oculus Rift that had a hefty price tag of $799 when it launched in 2016 now sells for just $199 and this is an indication that hardware hindrances will not deprive AR, VR and MR technologies of their worth in the coming years. Businesses can offer interactive opportunities for other ancillary service providers to market their services in their properties like for example, a hotel chain, allowing AR-enabled shopping from popular brands for their guests or running promotional campaigns of nearby attractions that guests can explore virtually before making a decision. The possibilities are limitless.
Related Reading: Check out which technology has a better future: AR or VR
4. Internet of Things
Today, technology is moving from the bounds of computers and smartphones and integrating into almost every physical environment surrounding us. The Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm has opened new possibilities for improving customer experiences considerably. The travel and tourism sector too can leverage the potential of IoT to serve their customers more efficiently. From hotels offering a smart room environment controls to guests and airlines facilitating smooth check-in and boarding through beacons within airports, the number of offerings in this segment is numerous.
With the advancement made in hardware sensors, it is possible to gather a large volume of data from a customer or potential customer’s physical surroundings and businesses can use this data to offer personalized services. With an increased focus on data security, today’s IoT platforms will assure end users of personalized services without the risk of unauthorized access by imposters. From an operational standpoint, businesses such as airlines and hotels can use IoT platforms to automate several key operational tasks such as maintenance activities to improve their efficiency, save costs and reduce manual labor risks in the long run.
Related Reading: Read along to know where and why should you invest in IoT.
5. Big Data Analytics
From the huge gamut of data generated by guests and travelers, businesses in the travel and tourism sector can derive insights that help them make the best decisions for growth. This is facilitated by powerful big data analytics platforms that are today available even on a subscription basis. This makes the proposition sweeter for even smaller businesses as they can now compete with the giants in their respective business community by gaining vital knowledge about customer behavior, their spending habits, and their interests.
By analyzing data on past travel experiences, hotels and travel companies can provide personalized recommendations to customers and aid their decision-making process considerably. These systems allow travel companies to suggest the most profitable itineraries for both them as well as the customer making it a win-win situation for everyone. It also allows them to segregate travelers, according to several criteria such as cost preferences, location preferences, interests and much more. This allows them to create personalized marketing and promotional campaigns for each segment and gain more business opportunities.
Related Reading: Check out how big companies are using Big Data to boost business
The travel and tourism sector will undoubtedly rank among the largest in the world when it comes to investment potential. However, the future of this industry will largely be decided by who makes the wisest technology investment decisions among competitors. By converging human interactions and technology, businesses in this sector can serve their customers better and run their infrastructure smarter.
The choices are numerous and it requires an expert advisory partner for travel and tourism companies to realize the full value from their technology investments. This is where our consultants can be your differentiator. Talk to us today to know how your business can survive and succeed in the age of digital disruption by investing intelligently in technology that matters most to your business.
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