Technology Transforming the Travel Industry

Guest Contributor

Contributors are not employed, compensated or governed by TD, opinions and statements are from the contributor directly

The travel and leisure industry is undergoing a major evolution with personalisation. Travellers’ experiences can now be deeply customisable at every stage, from research and booking to tailoring the main event itself, and interactions after it has taken place. Choices are plentiful on the internet and whether people realise it or not, they want businesses to provide them with an experience adapted to their needs and preferences

New releases in technology are enabling the transformation of the customer experience through hyper-personalisation, while at the same time increasing the efficiency of business operations. Advancements in MarTech and related tools are increasingly being applied in travel and leisure to make the world seem more connected, empower travellers to explore, simplify the decision-making process, and be on hand to guide users through their journey. Here are 5 trends in technology that are being applied to enhance personalisation and reshaping the travel and leisure industry as we know it.

Augmented Reality (AR)
AR allows tourists to enhance physical locations and tourist attractions by pointing their smart device at a building to learn more about it in real-time. For example, a user may point their phone at a restaurant and instantly receive reviews or menus, or aim their tablet at a landmark to learn about its history.
This functionality has the ability to greatly enhance travellers’ experience on-the-go and often features an element of gamification to entertain the kiddos with a hidden treasure- hunt in hotel buildings. AR is increasingly being used to digitally market the travel and leisure industry with the ability to virtually tour a destination prior to booking.

Artificial Intelligence (AI / Machine Learning)
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have the ability to automate analysis and detect patterns of data at a rate that would be impossible for humans to achieve. It can take data segmentation beyond simple keyword clusters and opens up the opportunity to glean information from new data sources, such as audio, image and video. Team the opportunity of MI data pattern analysis with, say, audio sentiment analysis and natural language processing, and you’ve got the intel you need for powerful personalisation. and happy customers.

Popularly known as ‘smart contract’, Blockchain is ledger technology with almost limitless potential. In the travel industry, blockchain can bring a higher level of transparency, better handle personal information and boost services. Blockchain is one of the most talked-about digital innovation for adding value by removing the middleman. The technology has enormous potential for simplifying complex procedures to make transactions transparent and more accessible.

Blockchain is expected to become increasingly important in the next decade, which is evident by the sharp growth in blockchain startups from capital investment. International players in the United States are taking the lead, followed by China and the European Union.

Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT involves internet-based inter-connectivity between everyday objects. It essentially transforms them into ‘smart devices’, with the ability to both send and receive data.
Personal control is the most widespread use of this technology in the travel industry, adding a greater degree of personalisation by centralising the control of lights, seat or bed reclining, heating, entertainment etc.

IoT technology is also being utilised as a placemaking strategy with sensors placed throughout airports and hotels to ramp up security while creating a streamlined experience. By connecting these sensors to a smartphone, travellers can locate their luggage, navigate their surroundings, receive key notifications or gain access to their hotel room without a card; the possibilities are endless.

This technology is the beginning of a new generation of connectivity and, based on the sheer volume of adoption and investment from the major players, it’s safe to say IoT is will continue disrupting the travel and hospitality sectors. It is expected to keep peaking within the next three years to become more of a requirement than a trend.

Data-Driven Personalisation
Progression in technology is unveiling powerful opportunities for digital personalisation. However, it’s important to combine automation with a human touch for a balanced approach that comes across as sincere rather than robotic.

Data is a growing necessity for all brands to better customise their messaging, products and services, enabling customers to feel valued and reap the benefits of having completely tailored services. For the travel and leisure industry to continue to progress with personalisation, operators will require even more data to be collected – and ideally dynamically from a first-party source.

Businesses should be more creative with the information gathering process, integrate it into the devices they’re already using, and alleviate the hassle by pre-filling known information (e.g. dates, destinations, room types, etc). Questions should be easy to answer on impulse and the value for doing so should be clear. For example, if a user reports having to wait half an hour for their drinks to arrive at a hotel’s restaurant, the hotel could discreetly arrange for a bottle of prosecco to be sent to the room with two apple juices for the kids.

The more impressed and engaged a visitor is, the more likely they are to shout about their experience, recommend it and repeat it. There is a risk attached to introducing digital in new ways, as it can be difficult to gain an initial buy-in. Consumers don’t like to change their behaviour, which means brands must be pragmatic and launch their innovations seamlessly. Formula E partnered with international digital agency, Dept to achieve just that.

Formula E was looking to enthral race-goers in a way that’s never been achieved before. Electric cars offer the possibility to use technology in unique ways and Formula E wanted to involve its fans directly in the race, giving them some control over the performance of the cars. The Sitecore-powered web and mobile app create a live race centre by combining smart race data and innovative Augmented Reality solutions. In the click of a button, Formula E fans can make their favourite driver’s car go faster. Powered by an online voting system within the site and app, this so-called ‘Fan Boost’ grants more horsepower by the number of fans a driver has.

Sometimes it’s not just about making things easier; the ‘wow’ factor goes a long way in travel and leisure!

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