Travel and tourism’s big tech makeover 2018

Published on the 13/03/2018 | Written by Newsdesk

GlobalData travel

AI, IoT and Wi-Fi everywhere: How the travel industry is embracing new technology to secure a bigger slice of the tourism pie...

The travel and tourism sector has undergone a tech transformation in recent years, changing how companies interact with customers and affecting every step of the journey.

A new report from data and analytics company GlobalData says that travel companies are currently adopting various new technologies at pace, and improving their operational efficiencies and customers’ expectations in the process.

The report, titled Technology Trends in Travel & Tourism, finds that six key trends stand out as the big travel and tourism industry changers for 2018: VR/AR, AI, IoT, voice technology, Wi-Fi and wearable devices.

As we wrote last week, VR and AR are the take-off technologies this year. The past few years have seen a rapid increase in uptake of AR or VR tech with travel and tourism companies, and that trend looks set to continue.

“These technologies are being for content marketing or to enhance the customers’ experiences,” says the report. “For example, airlines have started using VR technology to show travellers the cabins in advance, in order to increase ticket or ancillary services sales.”

Similarly, AI is the key driver behind many evolving technologies and innovations in the sector. The report classifies the ways in which AI is affecting the industry into three major categories: Machine Learning, ChatBots or TravelBots, and Robots.

“Thanks to AI, operations which usually require human intervention and a lot of time to learn new skills, can be automated, thus speeding up processes, while improving quality and performance, and decreasing costs.”

The much spoken-about Internet of Things (IoT) has potential too. One example: German airline Lufthansa has using IoT to reduce anxiety and stress levels associated with lost bags since March 2016. Passengers can track their baggage via a link found on their mobile boarding pass in the Lufthansa app.

GlobalData travel insight

The report says that voice technology, a “digital novelty”, is beginning to disrupt the travel and tourism sector as more and more customers switch from typed-in search to voice interactions. Hotels- among them Marriott International, Kimpton Alexis Hotel and Westin Buffalo – have started experimenting with voice-activated devices.

While Wi-Fi connectivity is de rigueur in many locations today, travellers can still find themselves missing 14/7 connection when travelling.

“People want to always be connected, either to get destination ideas, options regarding places to visit or eat, find directions to points of interest, or share their experience with friends via social media or other connectivity platforms,” says the report. “As a result, investing in network services helps companies offer a more seamless and highly personalized experience to customers, boosts operational efficiency, real-time decision making, strengthens the physical (via CCTV) and the cybersecurity, along with data privacy.”

Finally, wearable devices, despite a sluggish start, are beginning to impact the industry as travel and tourism companies start adopting wearable tech to provide customers with a more personalized and united experience.

“For instance, the Walt Disney Company deployed a wearable, customizable, RFID-equipped MagicBand (produced by recent Accenture acquisition, Matter Global), which connects to the theme park infrastructure, to reduce waiting times and track guests’ locations and activities.

For all the fancy gadgets however, it’s still all about the personal touch, albeit technology enabled says Elena Mogos, associate analyst for GlobalData.

“Travel still revolves around meaningful human interactions,” says Mogos. “However, to be successful, companies need to create a balance between the technological innovations and the human element. Improving the customer experience must always be on the back of travel and tourism companies’ minds when investing in technology.”

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