How Digital Advances are Transforming the Travel and Tourism industry

Digital advances have changed consumer behaviour, needs and wants with there now being higher expectations through the whole customer journey. Technology has transformed travel over the years, cars, trains, planes, the world is more accessible. Digital technology is just as transformative, with a few clicks of a button you’ve organised a trip to your dream destination. Digital is going to continue to have an impact. New advancements like artificial intelligence, VR and big data will help companies improve customer experience and satisfaction. It’ll also raise customer expectation. If you aren’t on top of this, you’ll soon fall behind. It’s no secret that the biggest and best travel brands in today’s age, are those that innovate, they embrace technology. So what’s topical right now?

Artificial Intelligence

The emergence of AI in the way of apps, chatbots (or travelbots) and software has simplified the process of travel bookings, hotel, flights or an all inclusive trip? No problem! When searching for my last trip away I noticed that Expedia have integrated Facebook messenger and a Skype bot into their app to help simplify the booking process, cut time and improve user experience when a traveller is organising a trip. This will soon become standard and rather than being new and scary, users will come to expect to talk to bots and in return, they will get quick and relevant answers.

Along with this, Expedia Customers can now use Amazon’s Alexa to ask questions about the booking itinerary, reservations and loyalty points balance. According to Forbes, 70% of enterprises are expected to integrate AI in the next 12 months, to stay competitive within the industry.

Now is the time to play around with AI, embrace the change and stay ahead of the curve. The quality of AI is improving all the time, it’s here to stay.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) is set to play an ever important role within the travel sector moving forwards. Gone are the days of users looking solely at printed brochures, if a picture paints a 1000 words, a video paints 10,000 and VR paints many more!

Some of the cutting edge travel brands are already experimenting with headsets to create a ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience, in an aim to differentiate themselves from other businesses. Providing prospective travellers with a feel for the adventure is a sure way of standing out. Brand loyalty is often low in a crowded marketplace, potential buyers typically view over 28 websites before committing to a purchase, inspiration isn’t easy, VR (and AR) can be a great way to drive real consideration and provide genuine inspiration. This isn’t a tick box activity for brands, nor a gimmicky PR opportunity, instead, VR/AR can be used to drive brand metrics and boost sales.

Big data

With an ever-growing list of options available for consumers to pick from, cost and time constraints can mean finding and booking a holiday becomes a stressful experience. Users start with excitement, which a few hours in, soon disappears. Scrolling through the endless choices which are not necessarily tailored to user needs is painful at best. Users want a friction-less experience, long lists of irrelevant or unsuitable options = friction. A recent study from econsultancy found that 75% of consumers are unhappy when they receive generic offers, however using personalisation can add value to your brand and boost growth. Put simply, more relevance = more sales.

This is where Big Data can help. Leading brands are utilising the trail of rich data travellers leave behind from multiple devices and channels during each stage of the planning process. This is being used to identify trends, behaviours and opportunities. Personalisation isn’t new, but it’s one of the biggest focus points for lots of travel brands in 2018 — being able to collect, store and utilise big data to deliver personalised travel recommendations will enhance customer experience.

Not all technology will be adopted, and the landscape will look very different in five years time, however, these advancements are here to stay and they will shape the way the leading brands operate in the years ahead.