Remember when you were a teenager and wanted to go on vacation with parents - you were asked to go to a travel agent and get all the printed brochures of exotic locations? Then came the dot.com wave and online booking sites like Expedia, Travelocity, MakeMyTrip paved the way so much that they took traditional travel agencies out of the equation.
We used to send holiday postcards to our friends and families back home, which are now a scarcity due to social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Lonely Planet used to be the traveler’s bible, but now we go to tons of websites like TripAdvisor and Priceline, which provide us with advice and reviews on hotels, tours, and restaurants.
Now I am able to book my flight online, have my boarding pass on my phone, check in with machines, go through automated clearance gates and even validate my boarding pass to board the plane. The travel industry, like many others, is being disrupted by great ideas powered by digital technology and innovation.
Some of the digital innovations taken by the travel industry so far:
- Online booking sites like Expedia, Travelocity, MakeMyTrip, Trivago
- Mobile optimization with Wi-Fi enablement
- Targeting and hyper-personalization with Big Data Analytics
- Digital discounts on travel by Kayak, Tripadvisor
- Smartphones for research vacations, deals, feedbacks
- Wearables like Disney band for payments, room keys
- Bluetooth beacons to guide travelers in the vicinity at airports
- Virtual Reality – see the places without even leaving home
All such digital footprint of customers are collected and then analyzed by big data analytics to hyper-personalize the experience.
With extensively networked digital properties and deep hooks into customer data collected via travel booking sites and social media channels, travel companies are delivering customized dream vacations according to the likes and preferences of today’s travelers.
Today’s trend is towards spending money on memories & experiences instead of material possessions.
Accordingly, travel companies are investing in their digital storefronts and omnichannel marketing strategies to keep today’s hyper-connected travelers snapping, sharing, researching and reviewing on the fly – leaving immense data footprints for marketers to leverage.
Bluesmart is a high-quality carry-on suitcase that you can control from your phone. From the app you can lock and unlock it, weigh it, track its location, be notified if you are leaving it behind and find out more about your travel habits.
Thomas Cook have introduced virtual reality experiences across select stores. Digital disrupters like Airbnb have already put tremendous pressure on hotels. Starwood Hotels have launched 'Let’s chat', enabling guests to communicate with its front desk associates via WhatsApp, Blackberry messenger or iPhone before or during their stay.
The World has gone from Bullock Cart to Hyperloop today. The future will belong to those using data-based intelligence to offer better experiences, encourage exotic, longer, and more frequent stays, and build long-term loyalty.