Digital innovation is increasingly critical to ensure new, loyal guests

Following on from TD’s interview with Hilton’s Sarah Somerville, senior director, customer engagement, loyalty and partnerships in Asia Pacific, Hilton Honors has released the results of its new study looking at the impact technology has on shaping the future of leisure and business travel.

According to the study, VR and AR are the most-considered sources of travel inspiration for the future, outstripping other sources, such as recommendations from locals (44%) and word of mouth (37%), with half of the participants (50%) agreeing that they would use virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) to inspire holiday plans.

The study interviewed 2,300 travellers aged 20-45 in 11 Asia Pacific countries, looking at the travel motivations, aspirations and expectations of the region’s most active travellers.

Highlights:

• Two in five (39%) surveyed see VR and artificial intelligence (AI) as key sources that could help build knowledge amongst travellers in the future. With this, travellers could literally be stepping into and seeing the destination before arriving, in order to make savvy, learned decisions from the start.

• Virtual and inanimate influencers are also increasingly being considered as a valuable source of curated/branded advice, and 45% of respondents would consider adopting this as part of how they source information to decide on a destination.

• Two in five travellers also believe that the use of VR and AR could help make travel more fun in the future.

Discussing the findings Sarah Somerville said: “Technology needs to be leveraged to enhance the in-hotel experience, in order for us to offer guests exactly what they want. Guests today expect integrated and personalised digital interactions across channels throughout their travels, which is why digital innovation is playing an increasingly critical role in ensuring a steady stream of new guests, and loyal guests that repeatedly stay with us time and again.”

Sarah Somerville

The study also reflects travellers’ shifting expectations with regard to the use of digital innovations, due to the rise of new technologies like AR, VR and AI being integrated into travel experiences:

  • Over half (51%) of APAC travellers feel that hotel brands could adopt more tech-related services that ‘speed up their check-in’ and ‘manage their whole trip
  • Ease of rebooking missed flights and managing
  • Push alerts to guests’ mobile devices when needed
  • Furthermore, 44% of APAC travellers think technology should be used ‘to inspire me on where to go at the destination’

“With the hospitality landscape constantly evolving and the rise of new technologies, naturally our guests’ expectations when it comes to technology are also shifting,” said Ben George, senior vice president and commercial director, Asia Pacific, Hilton.

“Hilton’s innovation-led approach to hospitality has led to the integration of digital features into every aspect of the travel experience, such as Digital Check-In and the Hilton Honors mobile app. As first and foremost a business of people serving people, we want to use technology to create a seamless guest experience, whilst at the same time maintaining that personal, human touch – a crucial and inimitable part of the travel experience.”

Hilton HonorsBen GeorgeSarah Somerville