Travel industry needs to keep up with tech innovations

Technology across all sectors is developing at such a rapid pace that businesses are having to constantly innovate and invest in the latest trends in order to stay competitive. If they don't they will fail to impress their customers and also, ultimately, fail to stand out in this digital-first world.

With the travel industry arguably undergoing one of the biggest overhauls of the last few years, ensuring businesses keep up with emerging technology should be made a priority – but this means companies need to invest and innovate almost as fast as their customers travel when flying to their destination.

Looking at a recent slide from Accor, it seems that technological innovation cycles are becoming shorter and shorter as the digital environment encourages the faster adoption of new services. While it took the humble radio 38 years to amass 50 million active users when introduced in 1958, in 2011 Google+ managed to hit that same target in just four short months.

Some of the most recognisable travel businesses to have disrupted how the traditional industry operates include Airbnb and Uber, both of which are "changing the rules and disrupting the value chain", as Alison Broussey – the vice president of customer strategy and technology for Accor – said.

So, as the fight to remain technologically relevant seems inevitable, what can travel industries do to keep up?

Create a tech-awareness strategy

The key to understanding what tech is emerging and what competitors are doing is to do market research and create an awareness strategy. Use various forms of media such as television, newspapers, industry forums and networking events to gather this information, then work out what the needs of your travel business are, the resources available to you and how to approach the implementation of such tech.

Get the right people on board, or invest in training

It is also important to ensure that if / when tech is implemented, you have the staff with the right skills ready to run the show. As well as experience in the travel industry, they need to have some level of IT knowledge to ensure the tech invested in can be leveraged to its full effect, for both for the business and the customer.

Be prepared to be flexible

As stated, technology is evolving at such a rapid pace that companies from every industry need to be constantly aware of what's happening. For travel businesses, the ability to remain flexible is key, as customer expectations change in line with emerging tech trends. Mobile apps are one area in which the travel industry needs to have focus; customers want to be able to browse destinations and packages on their mobile devices, as well as potentially chat with staff and interact with built-in concierge services.

Customer experience is key to the travel industry, and with their expectations increasingly tied to technological offerings, what services will your travel business be investing in?