As each year goes by the travel industry evolves to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape. New technology and innovations are increasingly defining how consumers search and book holidays, and how businesses market their products and services to those customers. In theory, this new technology is making the world of travel far easier for all parties - more accessible to consumers and widening the reach and opportunities for travel companies. However, unless a travel company takes advantage of the resources available to them, they will struggle to keep up with competitors.
There are several key trends shaping the travel industry right now - many linked to innovation. Here's an overview of what your travel company needs to be doing to stay ahead of the competition.
1. Video. When it comes to promoting a travel destination, product or service, video rally packs a punch. There is an increasing demand for unique, relevant video content on websites and travel companies need to respond to that. Not only does it provide the perfect medium through which to present digestible information and engages customers at every stage of their trip, it also helps businesses to track ROI (return on investment).
2. Search. There was a time when some companies worked hard to 'beat the system' of SEO (search engine optimisation). Those days are gone, with Google placing emphasis on unique content and site design rather than keywords. In order to optimise their sites travel companies need to have websites that include user-friendly design, are quick to load, are easy to navigate, and are accessible on all devices. Linking with Google+ improves a site's ranking too.
3. Mobile. 44% of travellers plan their getaways on a mobile phone or tablet, but 32% of the UK's travel companies have no mobile presence. The statistics say it all. In order to meet the needs of their customers travel companies must offer an efficient, user-friendly mobile site.
4. Wearables. Wearable smart devices are growing in popularity and it won't be long before we see speech and gesture interfaces replacing keyboards. Wearables in the travel industry are still in their infancy (Virgin Airlines use Google Glass to improve the passenger experience) but travel businesses should watch this space...
5. Big data. Travel companies can use big data to create more targeted marketing activity based on social media trends and consumer behaviour. From personalising websites and customising offers, to enabling staff to identify customers and detecting fraud; big data is a huge benefit in the world of travel.
6. Social media. Travel companies need to be using social media to listen to customer feedback, communicate messages, monitor activity and gain valuable insights into customers and their behaviour. It certainly cannot be ignored.