BOOST&Co has invested in TripTease, the exciting business that is leading the way in bringing new tools and technologies to the travel sector. TripTease is helping hoteliers to use their web sites to take market share back from the dominant online travel agencies.
We think technology will become ever more crucial throughout the travel industry, with online sales in the sector growing fast and expected to hit $762bn by 2019. In the UK alone, three-quarters of internet users booked a holiday digitally last year. And while many bookings are still made offline, travellers will still frequently have used digital tools to inform their purchases.
Against this backdrop, travel tech is evolving rapidly, with innovators targeting every part of the industry, from search and booking to hotel management, and from mass market consumer tourism to business travel. Here are just seven travel tech trends to watch this year:
Hotels leverage technology to take the fight to OTAs
Tired with giving up commissions of 15% plus when guests book through online travel agents, hotels are increasingly determined to persuade more travellers to book direct with them. The largest players, including Marriot and Hilton, have launched aggressive marketing campaigns with this objective in mind. But as well as competing with offers such as price and loyalty schemes, hoteliers see technology as the key to securing more direct business, using tools such as ad tech, in-site price checkers, data-informed personalisation and better use of mobile channels.
Virtual reality for ‘try before you buy’
Virtual reality technologies offer travellers a much better preview of possible destinations than a website or a brochure and the technology now exists to bring the beach to the would-be sunbather or the trail to the wannabe trekker. Virgin Holidays has already used Google Cardboard technology in some of its stores, with images and sounds captured on VR headsets at one of its resorts in Mexico available for travellers considering booking a trip to experience. The company claims “phenomenal” results, with a significant uplift in sales both to the resort in question and other destinations.
Travel embraces chat bots and messaging
Artificial intelligence-powered chat bots that operate via messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp represent a huge opportunity for the travel sector to engage in real time with its customers, particularly at the booking stage but also in the run-up to and during travel. For millennial customers, for whom messaging platforms are increasingly the communication medium of choice, this will be a crucial tool. Expedia is just one large operator to already have a bot up and running.
Personalisation goes hyper
Hotels and travel operators have increasingly sought to personalise the customer experience in recent times, but 2017 could be the year of hyper-personalisation, with new technologies employed to deliver a bespoke service at every stage of the customer journey, from search, through booking, travel, check-in, during the stay and even after departure. Hyatt’s Andaz Hotels group has replaced check-in desks with personal hosts who welcome guests and remain a named point-of-contact during the stay. Holiday Inn has developed an app with Samsung that enables guests to control their in-room televisions, lighting and air conditioning. Capturing and analysing data will be the key to delivering new services.
Wearables step up
With tech-savvy consumers embracing wearable devices in markets ranging from fitness to banking, the travel industry is next. Princess Cruises will launch its Ocean Medallion later this year, a pendant worn in a wristband that can be used to enter cabins, pay for services, place drinks orders on the move, navigate round the boat and locate family and friends. The device builds on the MagicBand tech used in many Disney parks and similar tools are likely to be adopted throughout the travel industry. Wearables will add to the consumer experience and suck in yet more valuable data.
Cloud and SaaS enable hotels to raise their game
The software-as-a-service model, delivered via the cloud, offers substantial benefits across the travel sector, from small hotels to global chains. Businesses in the sector are increasingly shifting to the cloud in order to dump legacy IT and upgrade property management and customer relationship management systems, delivering greater efficiency and customer centricity.
Platforms move all-inclusive
Travellers already use technology to plan their entire travel schedule, but typically use different platforms to buy flights, book a hotel, rent a car, plan excursions, make restaurant reservations and tailor their trips. Platforms that can offer all-inclusive travel management are the obvious next step, with contenders now emerging in this space. Airbnb has just begun offering tours and trips in 12 different cities and had plans to offer flight booking, car rental and concierge services imminently.
Travel Tech Stats & Facts
We’ve put together this infographic to show you the facts and stats that are driving these trends.
Embed this infographic on your site using this code:
<a href="https://boostandco.com/news/travel-tech-stats-facts/"><img src="https://boostandco.com/wp-content/uploads/Infographic_Travel-tech_2017_BOOST-And-Co.png" alt="Travel Technology Infographic"</a>