Given the pace of change within the travel industry, no business can afford to be complacent. As a business owner you need to capitalise on the opportunities that digital technologies present; if not, you risk failing to meet the ever-changing needs and expectations of the consumer. Of course, before you think about adopting these digital technologies in your business, you need a solid understanding of the trends. Here's your guide to what's leading the way in consumer travel right now.
According to Google (and that is the kind of company you need to sit up and listen to) consumers are increasingly using more than one device, either sequentially or simultaneously. Smartphones tend to be the starting point before the user moves onto a laptop, tablet or television – while still keeping an eye on their mobile, of course. Your business needs flexible technological architecture that reaches all consumers on all screens.
Wearable technologies and connected cars
Your customers can benefit from a more personal, customised service through wearable technologies. Google Glass has been tipped to completely revolutionise the travel industry, but so far it is mainly larger companies who have taken the plunge. In much the same way, internet connected cars provide consumers with information about destinations and the ability to book hotels on the go.
For a number of years, social media has given travellers the means through which to share their reviews and content. Whether it is posting holiday snaps and videos on YouTube, writing hotel reviews or sharing travel opportunities through Airbnb, people want to play an active role in the travel experience. This sharing trend means that consumers are sharing accommodation, cars and meals with their travelling peers.
As consumers become more proactive in seeking travel options, they have also come to expect a more unique and personalised travel experience. Big data enables businesses to offer a more tailored product or service to their customers. One example of big data in practice in the travel industry is Kayak; this online travel comparison site uses big data to predict the best day for customers to book their trip.
As more consumers are connected around the clock they expect real-time services from all businesses – travel companies included. They don't want to wait for information, they want it now – or make that yesterday. Travel companies need to provide customer service and support that is available 24/7 and is easily accessible whatever the device.
Travel companies also need to stay informed about the latest innovations relevant to the industry. Gamification and augmented reality are two examples of digital trends that create a technology-enhanced experience for the consumer. Not sure what they are? Gamification works by combining customer loyalty programs with game playing rewards and techniques to create a more engaging, entertaining user experience. Meanwhile, augmented reality combines the real world and virtual information to give consumers a live view of their physical surroundings amplified by computer-generated content.