It’s undeniable that technology has transformed the travel industry for good. Not only the way people experience a trip but also how they find, plan and book accommodations, transportation, tours and activities.
Understanding these technologies and how they enhance your operations is key to thriving in a sector that is going through deep digitalization.
In this article, you will learn about technologies that destinations and travel companies, big and small, are using to boost their business and enhance travelers’ experience.
How travel technologies are changing the industry landscape
As previously mentioned, technology has become part of the travel industry. Hardly a traveler will set foot on a plane before searching online for the best flight prices, hotel rooms available, and options for things to do and eat at the destination.
Actually, one starts planning a trip way before realizing they want to travel.
Engaging with travel publications on Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and other social media might arouse the wanderlust to meet new places.
- According to Schofields, 40% of Millennials pick travel destinations based on how Instagrammable the pics will be.
- Research from Stackla shows that 52% of travelers base their travel decisions on images and videos they see from friends.
- Friends’ photos on Facebook influence over 50% of users’ travel plans according to Passport-Photo.
The next step is building an itinerary with Google’s help, which involves reading dozens of reviews.
- According to TripAvisor report, 72% of travelers always or frequently read reviews before making a decision on places to stay and eat, or things to do.
Finally, the last step is booking the trip. This is done mainly through the supplier website or through OTAs.
- Data from StratosJets shows that 83% of US adults want to book their trips online. The same company states that by this year an estimated 700 million people will make an online booking.
Why you should invest in the digitalization of your business?
Investing in new technologies for your business brings many benefits to you and your clients. First of all, if you look carefully, you will see that your competitors are taking steps to be at the edge of the industry. You don’t want to be behind them, do you?
Besides increasing competitiveness, digital solutions help you:
- Better manage your daily tasks: There are tools on the market, such as online booking engines, that travel suppliers can use to automate the sending of vouchers, receive reservations, collect payments, and manage the availability of their products and their resources.
- Offer a more complete and seamless experience to your guests: Technologies such as augmented reality can be used to complement the overall experience of destination visitors. This is something Zagreb and Paphos are investing in to attract new visitors.
- Save time and money marketing and selling your products: The online data travelers leave behind when interacting with your website can be used to improve your marketing campaigns and reach the right audience for your business.
- Increase the reach of your brand: If you nurture a strong online presence by investing in different online channels, such as your website, social media, Google, OTAs, you are increasing the exposure of your brand to potential guests that might consider your brand when planning their trips.
- Expand your product mix: You can use the new travel technologies released every year to create disruptive experiences and sell them as a new product for your business. For example, use AI to create a self-guided tour and sell it online on your website.
Technologies travel companies are investing in
It’s hard to keep track of all the new technologies released every year in the travel industry. If you want to sneak peek at the new trends, there are events such as the Travel Tech Show and WTM Travel Tech that are focused on it.
Here are some examples of travel technologies that travel companies and destinations are using to provide better travel experiences to their guests and visitors.
Augmented reality (AR)
AR is an interactive experience that combines the real world and computer-generated content. Users can see and interact with the virtual layer generated by AR applications through their mobile devices.
This technology is great to enhance travel experiences such as tours and exhibitions. With it, you can add elements to the real world that otherwise are impossible to exist.
For example, let’s say you offer a medieval tour in Edinburgh. In this case, you can launch a mobile app that complements the experience by displaying virtual avatars of knights and other medieval elements as your guests point their phone’s camera to specific locations during the tour.
Cities can also use AR as an alternative way to provide information about tourist attractions and give directions to them.
Virtual reality (VR)
VR is a simulated 3D environment that enables users to explore and interact with a virtual surrounding in a way that approximates reality. Unlike AR, this travel technology is not so accessible. It requires special glasses to be experienced.
More and more marketers are using VR to promote destinations and travel-related businesses. The reason is simple, this technology creates an immersive environment that gives travelers a taste of the real location or experience.
With it, it’s possible to create virtual walkthroughs for museums, destinations, and hotels, as well as virtual tours and activities.
Artificial Inteligence (AI)
AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.
Travel companies and destinations can use it to offer a highly personalized experience for their guests while interacting with their online channels. For example, you can install a chatbot on your website to help guests identify which of your products better suits their needs and guide them through the booking process.
Alternatively, you can use AI to design new products for your company, such as hybrid tours and self-guided tours. These can be sold as add-ons to your regular products or as a stand-alone experience for people who can’t be on-site for a tour.
AI can also help you create content to market your business. The popular ChatGPT is an AI that generates text and it’s widely used by marketers to write blog articles and other content for social media.
A smooth booking experience is essential for a great travel experience. Travelers want to book rooms, activities, flights, and any other travel-related product from the comfort of their homes, while they are planning their trips and without human interaction.
Booking engines such as Orioly are used for this purpose. These systems can be integrated into travel websites to collect payments and manage online bookings.
An automated booking process is not only great for travelers, who will make a reservation in a few minutes but also for travel companies that will save time by automating daily tasks, such as the availability of their products and the communication with their guests.
Destinations can also benefit from booking engines. If a location has digitalized its tourism offer, it can use a connection with a booking engine to help visitors book with local suppliers.
Is the tourism offer of your destination not digitalized yet? Learn more about TourExplorer and how it helps cities increase their tourism revenue.
Location-based services (LBS)
This is a software service for mobile device applications that requires knowledge about where the mobile device is geographically located. With this information, it’s possible to track real-time the position of the device, hence where the person is located.
LBS opens a wide possibility for travel services. Destinations and attractions can use the traveler’s location for crowd management. For example, travelers with a destination app installed on their mobiles can receive a notification indicating the areas of the city that are overcrowded at the moment, and at the same time give suggestions of places that people can visit that are empty.
In the same way, a museum can send a notification informing when they are reaching their visitor capacity. That will save people’s time and will improve their visitor’s experience.
Big data refers to data that is so large, fast or complex that it’s difficult or impossible to process using traditional methods. For example, data regarding travel seasonality and travelers’ behavior.
Nowadays the use of big data has been popularized by free tools such as Google Trends. With it, you can research what travelers from specific markets are searching online, and identify travel trends that otherwise you couldn’t just by observing a small group of people.
Destinations and travel companies can use this information to better plan their marketing campaigns and design products that are aligned with their target audience’s expectations.
Travel companies that are not worried about their digitalization will be left behind as the industry moves forward in embracing new and disruptive travel technologies. This is a movement with no turnback, as the online era has elevated the efficiency of travel businesses and enhanced travelers’ experience.
AR, VR, AI and Booking Engines, Location-based Services, and Big Data, all these technologies are widely used by businesses in the industry and a good start for your digital transformation.
But implementing these solutions can be demanding and complex if you are not tech-savvy or if you don’t have time to take care of all the details. Furthermore, building a team in order to develop your own solution is costly and inefficient.
A smart move is to hire a travel consultant in order to guide you with this transition and make sure you will implement the desired solutions the right way. Read our success stories and learn how ViagemIT has helped its customers to break into de digital space in tourism.