Welcome To The Travel Technology Universe

Author: Vijay Iyer
Date: 2019-12-12

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Tourism technology or Hospitality automation are terms that we have come to know more closely as Travel technology. This became ubiquitous in the travel industry in the 21st century, but few know what it actually means.  It is simply the application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry or travel-related services. 

Technology has brought efficiency, automation, customer intelligence with data, and more business opportunities to offer to different customer needs, fast development in the market, innovation in product and service offerings, travel and traveler data and opportunity for new entrants, whom the industry calls disruptors too.

Travel technology is the vocal enabler of automatization in the travel industry and connects suppliers to travel agents/ tour operators and helps augment other travel-related services or services auxiliary to the travel industry. Whether it be booking hotels, flights, transfers, tours etc through hotel wholesalers, GDS systems, consolidators of travel services, distribution channels, channel managers, and more; travel agents today are spoilt for choice. Networking is easier then never before and setting up systems to make your business tick, have never been better. No wonder we see such a boom in the travel industry and the usage of travel-friendly technology, both in the hands of travel agents as well as travelers.

This type of networking provides instant access to dynamic and contracted inventory allowing travel agents/ travel companies to sell more and offer better choices to their customers. Some forms of travel technology that we are well versed with are flight tracking, trip planning through online travel agencies/ travel aggregators, and the use of search engines and social media to plan trips.

Today, nobody doubts that technology and travel are a perfect match. This partnership plays a crucial role in the way we travel: from choosing the vacation destination we want, all the way to what we do once we are there and even in the time after we have come back from our dream holiday. It is so prevalent, that according to a Google Travel study, 74% of travel plans are made by travelers on the Internet, while only 13% still use travel agencies to prepare them directly.

Millennials play a significant role in this paradigm shift in the way the travel industry is shaping up for the future. Their love for travel and passion for new technology has made travel technology evolve leaps and bounds in a short span. This combined interest has given way to a new context where social media, apps, blogs, and so more have an important part to play when it’s time to play a trip. By that same token, the travel industry, as it becomes increasingly aware of this trend, has followed suit by adapting its business model and product offering to attract this coveted target. 

Here are 6 facts and figures that prove technology has reshaped the travel industry.

  1. Almost 40% of all tour and activity bookings are being made online
  2. Items booked on the internet before a trip: organized tours (5.1%) and entertainment activities/events (39.7%) were booked online, with the latter having doubled since the previous year (Tourism Australia)
  3. 97% of people now prefer to find a business online (Forbes)
  4. 20% of Google searches being for local information (HubSpot)
  5. 65% of tourist book hotels reservations for the same day on a mobile device
  6. The travel industry is moving rapidly from traffic patterns to a web/mobile history where data is recorded, stored and analyzed to address individual customer's travel requirements.

Here are the Top 3 important tech solutions for the travel and tourism industry :

1. Mobile Technology: This is undoubtedly the hero in the new age of travel. The cell phone has become an all in 1 ready to use service point. Our ‘smart’ phones, that are so rightly named, have become our tour guide, travel agency, best restaurant locator, map, and more. It has in-fact become the way we see the world today. In fact, according to TripAdvisor, 45% of users use their smart-phone for everything having to do with their vacations and travel-related arrangements.

2. Internet of Things (IoT): They include integrating sensors connected to the Internet inside items like cars, suitcases, buildings, and more.  Did you know that there are suitcases with inbuilt technology that allows users to use their cell phones to follow where their suitcase is at any time and helps minimize lost baggage while they travel. IOT devices are also increasingly being used to do small things like regulate temperatures, act as TV remotes and much more. Fitbit is a very popular IOT wearable that we are well versed with. Imagine the possibilities of its applications in travel and tourism.

3. Augmented Reality: Augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) have also entered the travel world. oday, it’s possible to “teleport” ourselves to the most remote corners of the globe without getting off the couch. That’s what you can get using Everest’s EVEREST VR app, which lets you see the top of the world without having to travel to Nepal or climb to the top. More and more companies use it to show users a cabin on a cruise ship or transport them, for a few seconds, to the Taj Mahal too. 

Whatever be the case, travel technology is here to stay and travel agents who want to stay ahead in this game should ride this wave at the earliest.

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