Digital technologies and platforms are disrupting the way the tourism sector operates from end to end. For hotel owners and other business leaders operating in this l 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 five of the most important digital trends in the travel and tourism industry need to be aware of, and adapt to, if they are going to successfully optimize business performance.
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 utilized by those in the travel industry to provide rapid response times to basic queries. Crucially, chatbots and AI 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.
Finally, VR and AR are also increasingly being deployed within the travel industry. What is the difference between virtual reality vs augmented reality?
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.
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 to allow guests to control room appliances from their phone.
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.
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 authorize 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.
In order to avoid being left behind, it is vital that those in the travel and tourism 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.
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