For hotel owners and other business leaders operating in the travel industry, it is important to keep up with the latest digital trends. Failure to do so can result in rivals gaining a competitive advantage, while it can also negatively impact upon the customer experience, potentially harming your reputation as a result.
In this article, you will learn about six of the most important digital trends that those in the tourism industry need to be aware of, and adapt to, if they are going to successfully optimise business performance.
7 Digital Trends in the Travel Industry
1. Recognition Technology
Recognition technology is being put to great use in some hotels already, with retina scanning and finger print scanning being used to unlock hotel rooms. This can improve the customer experience by eliminating the need to keep hold of a key card, or use a physical key; both of which could be lost or stolen.
As the technology advances and becomes more widely accepted, we can expect facial biometrics to be used to automatically authorise payments, or automatically check out of the hotel. This could dramatically reduce queues, freeing up restaurant or reception staff to deal with customers who require more hands-on assistance.
Example: Facial Recognition Check-in in Marriott China
Out of all the emerging digital trends in the travel industry, one of the most exciting is the use of robots to perform intelligent tasks. This opens up a huge number of potential uses, ranging from customer service, through to data processing. A particularly good example of the possibilities is the 1A-TA robot by Amadeus.
Powered by ‘deep learning’ technology, it is hoped that in the near future, travel agents and other tourism professionals will be able to use the robot as a digital assistant. The robot can find out information from customers while they sit in the waiting room, analyse preferences and intelligently recommend suitable destinations.
Example: Amadeus’ experimental travel agent’s assistant using the Pepper robot
Find more detailed information and examples about robot use cases in the travel industry in the article “Robots in the Travel Industry: 8 Real-World Examples”.
3. Mobile Integration
In the age of smartphones, mobile integration is more important than ever before and it is one of the digital trends that can be implemented most easily within the tourism industry. For instance, a dedicated mobile app for a hotel can be used to facilitate room bookings, restaurant reservations, room service requests and spa appointments.
In addition to self-service functions, mobile integration can be used alongside beacon technology to send promotional messages when they are most relevant, based on physical location. Furthermore, mobile apps can be combined with IoT technology (outlined later in this article) to allow guests to control room appliances from their phone.
Example: Discover handy
4. Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One of the most exciting digital trends of recent times has been the increased usage of chatbots. This technology has been a revelation for customer service handling and can be utilised by those in the travel industry to provide rapid response times to basic queries. Crucially, chatbots can deliver swift replies even in the middle of the night.
This also fits in with the rise of artificial intelligence more generally. Perhaps the most notable example of this so far has been a combined project from Hilton and IBM, resulting in ‘Connie’ – an AI-driven customer service robot, which is able to respond to human speech, learn from interactions and provide tourist information.
Example: Create Your Bot Booking Travel
Find more detailed information and examples about artificial intelligence use cases in the travel industry in the article “How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Travel Industry”.
When it comes to customer service, greater personalisation ranks among the top requests and those within the travel industry are taking note. Big data and machine-based learning both provide hotels with opportunities to deliver a more personalised experience for guests and this trend will only grow in the years ahead.
Complex algorithms can be used to cross-sell products and make predictions about needs, based on the behaviour of customers from the same location, booking the same room, at the same time of year. Technology within rooms can also be set up to greet guests by name, while hotels may even be able to provide automatically generated travel suggestions, based on user interests and preferences selected during the booking process.
Example: Personalization Technologies for the Travel Industry
6. Internet of Things (IoT)
Another digital trend in the travel industry is ‘The Internet of Things’. Which refers to the use of internet capabilities within everyday devices, allowing them to send and receive data. This is extremely useful within the tourism industry, because it can be deployed to automatically reduce costs and improve the experience for customers, without the need for human interjection.
For example, smart energy systems can be used to automatically adjust room temperatures based on whether the rooms are occupied, eliminating wasted energy usage in empty rooms. Starwood Hotels have even used IoT technology to automatically adjust the strength of light bulbs, based on the amount of natural light detected.
Example: Marriott, Legrand, Samsung – IoT Guestroom of the Future
Find more detailed information about the ‘Internet of Things’ in the travel industry in the article “How the Internet of Things (IoT) can Benefit the Travel Industry”.
7. Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)
Finally, VR and AR are also increasingly being deployed within the travel industry. In the case of VR, several hotel chains are experimenting by allowing customers to experience a virtual recreation of their hotel rooms during the booking process, before they ever physically step foot in them, enabling more informed choices.
Augmented reality, meanwhile, is typically deployed via a smartphone app and is used to enhance real-world environments through overlays. This can mean, for instance, that a user might point their phone at a restaurant and see customer reviews, or point their phone at a hotel map and find additional information about nearby attractions.
Example: The world’s first Virtual Reality travel search and booking experience
Find more detailed information and examples about how virtual reality can benefit your business in the article “How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry”.
In order to avoid being left behind, it is vital that those in the travel industry keep up with the latest digital trends. By understanding and making use of some of the above technologies, you should be able to keep pace with rivals and even gain an edge over some, while simultaneously improving the customer experience for your guests.