Let’s face it, a global pandemic has left people feeling far less… well… global. Everybody is desiring and deserving of a holiday right now. And with the world is finally starting to open up, as travel and tourism restrictions ease and fears abate, many an intrepid heart begins to thump at dreams of adventure
Travel is your industry. You are passionate about providing the best possible tailored service to your customers. You share their wanderlust, curiosity, and adventurous spirit. You’re in the business of enriching lives through unforgettable experiences. But are there limitations to what you’re able to deliver as the industry evolves and new challenges arise?
The sands are shifting
There’s a significant amount of change and transformation occurring in the travel and tourism sector. This is driven by new customer requirements and global circumstances. Travellers seek convenience in all aspects of their travel experience; they also have growing concerns about the environment and heightened health and risk awareness.
The role of travel technology for travel agents is to enable the delivery of a service above and beyond what a customer is capable of doing themselves (or would prefer not to do) online.
To maintain a competitive advantage, it’s crucial to keep up with the latest in travel technology and the trends that are shaping your industry. Being travel tech-savvy and understanding travel trends is key to running a flexible agency, providing the service that inspires brand loyalty, and growing your customer base.
What exactly is travel technology?
Travel technology is a catch-all that refers to the use of digital tech to arrange and organise all things travel and tourism, including, but not limited to, booking flights and hotels, renting vehicles, planning itineraries, reviewing tours and restaurants, finding sites and attractions, and plotting routes accordingly. Tech is revolutionising the way people travel, simplifying and streamlining the whole experience while reducing the hassles and hang-ups associated with venturing far afield… even overcoming language barriers. An increasingly digital world has birthed a digital culture that’s based on quick, easy, and personalised access to services.
So, in a nutshell, travel technology refers to the implementation of IT solutions in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries with a view towards automation. Automated IT solutions greatly improve the travel experience, being efficient, cost-effective, and time-saving.
How will travel tech impact the human experience?
If there is ever a worry that leaning too heavily on tech, such as computerised reservation systems (CRSs), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and VR (Virtual Reality), will diminish the sense of personal attention and service, it is entirely unfounded. With the right IT solutions, your agents will be able to target-advertise to individual customers according to their interests, wants, and needs, arrange specifically tailored travel packages, and troubleshoot effectively and efficiently. Travel technology is people-centric. Whether it’s supporting agents in delivering an enhanced service, or assisting globetrotters on their journeys, it exists to bring convenience, cost-savings and personalisation.
What’s trending in travel technology?
Travel trends are key industry indicators. Knowing and understanding what’s trending will keep your agency proactively ahead of the game. Here are 5 Travel Trends to keep an eye on.
1. The world in the palm of a hand
As travel trends go, the mobile phone has quickly become the ultimate travel companion. It is undeniable that the humble mobile phone is the nerve centre of travel at every level, from local saunters to international odysseys. The modern traveller truly holds the world in the palm of a hand. Tickets, bookings, banking, locations, maps, satellite and street views, sites and attractions, reviews and recommendations, even translation – mobile devices do it all, practically and conveniently, which is why 70% of travel-related research is mobile-based, up to 39% of hotel bookings are made by mobile phone.
From a travel agency perspective, this sends a clear signal that travellers want convenience and speedy access to information about their booking. Consider, also, that your website needs to be optimised for mobile browsing so that clients can learn more about your services or communicate with your agents from the device of their choice.
2. The future is now
Glossy travel brochures are still a useful marketing tool that can help you reach certain audience segments. But what if you could give your customer a real feel for their dream holiday? Technology makes this possible by taking visualisation to the next level. VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) can help your client immerse themselves in the excitement of their future holiday before they’ve even boarded the plane.
Virtual Reality has limitless travel and tourism applications and is an impressive tool for your agency, enabling your agents to design virtual tours for customers. Travellers can virtually step inside a hotel, restaurant, or cafe, visit a museum or site of interest, before committing to a booking.
Augmented Reality refers to different technologies aimed at augmenting or improving a real-world experience. These technologies range from inexpensive (even free) applications to the pricey and sophisticated. There are a plethora of AR applications available currently, allowing for real-time, device-based overlays of text, graphics, filters, audio, and video. For example, a traveller, far from the bright city lights, lying on their back in a grassy field or on the darkened deck of a cruiseliner, to gaze up at the milky way on a magically clear night, might use a star tracker application to plot the constellations and digitally roam the heavens above.
3. 24/7 holiday talk with chatbots
AI (Artificial Intelligence) chatbots are invaluable to customisable service delivery, because they operate 24/7 and offer an immediate information portal to customers. In this digital culture, immediate access to relevant information at any time of the day and night is paramount. Chatbots handle FAQs and specific inquiries about individual accounts and complex issues, reducing both customer frustration and the administrative load on your agents. Chatbot AI is getting faster and better at generating human-like conversations, ensuring that your midnight holiday shopper gets a genuinely helpful interaction.
Some chatbots can now respond to voice prompts and answer in spoken word, which is extremely useful to the customer or traveller who, for any reason, cannot look at a screen or type, creating an inclusive experience for all.
4. Travel agency software
For agencies that want to manage the changing needs of their clients with greater efficiency and a higher level of personalisation, a CRM is a must. Your industry has its own terminology and unique requirements; an off-the-shelf customer relationship management (CRM) tool will struggle to appease those.
Luckily, industry-targeted SaaS developers have responded by creating specialised travel agency CRMs that provide all the necessary features and benefits you’re looking for to empower your travel agents with more efficient means of building rapport with clients. Automated email nurtures and dynamic messaging can help reinforce relationships and allow you to be helpful at times when crucial information needs to reach your clients.
Instead of relying on manual processes or software that’s not quite the right fit, industry-specific CRMs allow agents to gather analytics, review reports, build comprehensive customer profiles and offer post-sale service delivery to holiday-makers, all from a centralised hub.
These types of tools are increasingly more important in a competitive market where customers expect businesses to understand their preferences and purchase history in order to receive offers and holiday packages specifically tailored to them. The data collected from your CRM can be used to create more responsive marketing campaigns that ensure your messaging is never off-brand or out of touch with real-time global situations. This not only speeds up the path to conversion, but it eliminates friction and enables travel agents to focus on what they do best: planning the perfect travel experience for their clients.
Learn more about the available travel industry CRM solutions in our comparison guide.
How tech-savvy are you?
The impact of technology on travel and tourism is obvious and substantial, and should be embraced if your agency is to thrive in this changing climate. While the prospect of summiting the tech apex may seem daunting, standing at the foot of it, the view from the top is spectacular; and you were an adventurer from the start.
The benefits of implementing travel technology into your business are many:
- automating and streamlining processes
- saving time and money
- providing online support in real-time
- keeping you relevant
This blog has only just scratched the surface of travel technology’s potential and the trends shaping the travel Industry.