We have come a long way since digitalization first entered our lives, revolutionizing the way we think, work and act. People do realize technology is the very engine of development and its impact is felt across the entire industrial belt irrespective of whether it is a service sector like healthcare and tourism, or manufacturing unit like Toyota and Tesla. Automation and Internet of Things have streamlined their operations, but, for better or for worse, have robbed jobs from many semi-skilled workers, yet creating new opportunities for employees who are willing to upgrade themselves.
We are riding the tide of change. So, we expect a changed approach from the companies whose services we are seeking out. So, when we travel, the agencies we approach for fixing our travel itineraries have to be digitally well-equipped to align with our expectations. If they fail to comply with the change, then they are losing the game altogether.
But, what is a travel and tourism industry?
The biggest industry in the service sector, today, is a culmination of a wide range of travel as well as travel software services and products. The untold benefits of the digital revolution in the tourism and hospitality sector have made planning and booking our vacation online an easy-breezy task, our stay at smart hotels a memorable one, and grievances addressed promptly.
The year 2019 had proved to be a milestone for the tourism and hospitality sector, with technology trends that made a greater impact on travellers from across the world.
Statistics on technology trends 2019
The word ‘sustainable tourism’ was buzzing around in the year 2019. A recent report says over 55% of global travellers are more determined to make sustainable travel choices than ever before.
Another report from 2019 says that small travel agents, affiliates and local tourist offices are gaining traction courtesy the advanced travel agency software services that they use, thereby drawing an increased travel booking, approximately 24.3%, from the holiday goers.
Likewise, technology like Virtual and Augmented Reality has become popular among tourists.
A few examples are given below –
India Virtual Reality Tours will take you to forts, palaces and other exotic tourist hot spots before you plan your vacation online.
Another technology that proved to be effective in the travel and hospitality industry is Voice Technology which is likely to trend even more in the year of 2020. In fact, British low-carrier EasyJet has launched the ‘Speak Now’ feature, added to its application, which is powered by Artificial Intelligence or AI technology to enable customers to search flights using voice recognition technology.
And, online travel booking software has made online bookings fast and simple. Besides small and medium travel agencies that are sprouting up here and there, travel software development companies have expanded to accommodate the changing expectations of the young millennials and gen zers. The online travel sales are expected to grow to 817.5 bn US$ approximately by the end of 2020.
Having revisited the technological finds that were trending in 2019, let us understand what can we expect from the New Year 2020?
Travel technology trends 2020
A new year always dawns with new promises, but how the future will shape depends mostly on our present preparation. Digital and mobile technology are continuously expanding their avenues but it seems no major announcements are looming up in the horizon in the near future. What we will experience is an upgraded version of the technology that was trending in 2018 and 2019.
But, the future is unpredictable so is modern science and technology. Nevertheless, that will be a completely different chapter of discussion. For now, let’s understand the technology trends that are likely to dominate the travel and tourism industry in 2020.
The ongoing popularity of super apps and one-stop travel platforms
The love for a one-stop platform to manage holiday bookings, including the purchase of flight tickets, making hotel reservations and planning the entire itinerary online, has driven travel companies to approach such travel booking software services greatly.
Customers hate to clutter their smartphone screen with different apps – one for checking train/flight/bus schedules, one for making hotel reservations and a separate travel agency application for checking out holiday destinations. Now, different customers have different expectations from the travel apps, so the rising demand for multi-tasking super apps fully embedded with travel software APIs cannot be ignored for long.
Continuous use of voice technology
The increased usage of voice technology will just double up, with nearly 35% of U.S. households owning at least one smart speaker, as per Statista. And, there are airlines such as EasyJet made it easier for travellers to book flights, check flight information and status, as well as check-in using voice recognition technology (example given above).
Voice technology will make booking flights and planning travel itineraries within seconds, thereby reducing human error completely, as opposed to typing at least 12 commands.
This is an opportunity presented to the agencies and travel technology companies on a silver plate. It is time to upgrade your system before you lose out valuable customers in great numbers.
Even the hospitality industry is banking on recognition technology, retina scanning, facial and fingerprint recognition, not so much on the voice recognition application, though.
Allowing access to guests’ rooms and semi-contactless checkouts are a few examples of how innovative hotels are using recognition technology, thereby ensuring smoother customer experience.
Artificial intelligence and robotics
It is time modern technology like robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is no more considered a dream of the future. One requires a clear understanding of artificial intelligence to intelligently sort through available customer data and define strategies based on prescriptive analytics.
For example –
AI-empowered chatbots are well-equipped to address customer grievances and response to their queries more efficiently.
On the other hand, animated robotics have found their way into many top hotel conglomerates like Hilton with speech recognition technology to assist guests and into airports for detecting hidden weapons. Japan’s Henn-na Hotel is a standing example of how robotics have been used extensively to enhance customer experiences greatly.
Big data and prescriptive analytics
We are surrounded by data, flowing everywhere right from the moment you enter your bank details on an online e-commerce platform to posting on your Instagram profile. It is wrong to say that only travel companies are swimming in big data, rather every service provider requires customer data to offer personalized services to their customers. But, predictive analysis of Big Data has become a thing of the past. According to John Carney, Chief Data Scientist at OpenJaw technologies, Big Data will soon become the new normal and the bend will be more towards prescriptive analytics against the predictive approach of the earlier e-commerce sites.
Courtesy the rapid improvement taking place in automation, artificial intelligence and related technologies, automating a task based on insightful judgement and predictive analysis will change the travel industry once and for all if mobilized on time.
In short, prescriptive analytics entail the most ideal action for a particular customer automatically undertaken without human intervention of sorts.
Blockchain and 5G connectivity
Like Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, Blockchain has become very much a reality now. This decentralized, peer-to-peer network will prove a blessing in disguise for travel industries by facilitating secured traceable payment options. And, there are other applications as well, but a full-scale implementation is still waiting in the loop.
Likewise, 5G data that began wide deployment in 2019, will promote greater connectivity and technological advancements, even in the travel ecosystem as well.
Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality
Again the use of technology such as Augmented and Virtual Reality as well as the Internet of Things is not a gift of the New Year. Rather, they have been doing the rounds in news for quite some time. Top-notch hotels and travel agencies have already implemented IoT, for instance, the embedded sensors on a traveller’s luggage alert him as and when they pass by while riding the conveyor belt in an airport, or, allowing guests to control lights, heater and air-conditioning of their hotel rooms using a single device.
Speaking of augmented and virtual reality, the travel and tourism industry has indefinite examples to refer. Dubai VRZoo is one such example.
Sustainable and eco-friendly tourism
And, obviously, sustainable or green travel will dominate the travel ecosystem for the entire year of 2020. The new millennial, generation z and alphas are more environment-conscious than their peers. This new generation of travellers makes travel choices based on the type of carriers they are flying with and the extent of carbon footing they are leaving behind during each trip. Hence, it has become all the more important for airlines, OTAs and other travel agencies to be more transparent about sustainability and their ecological responsibility.
Preparing the workforce for the future!
The rapid transition in the travel and tourism sector, as well as other service areas, has compelled companies to switch from hiring unskilled and semi-skilled employees to automating the entire process. For example – travel software services such as travel agency back office software like Flying Bird have found a seamless solution to single-handedly manage back-office tasks without committing to human errors.
The technology trends 2020 show where the travel and hospitality industry is heading to, so as to enable small, medium and big companies equip themselves aptly to ride the tide of the forever-changing market.