Mobile and social technologies are constantly developing, becoming increasingly ingrained into the fabric of every day life, and ever more advanced, intuitive and user-friendly. Known as ‘disruptive’ technologies, these advances are driving destination marketing, resulting in a cultural change in the way technology is viewed in travel.
Because destination marketing centres on experience rather than material goods, it forms the perfect opportunity for information-based sales. From a marketing perspective, tools such as social platforms act to amplify and distribute content, gaining and monetising influence. Image-sharing platform, Instagram, demonstrates the power and reach available. With over 800m monthly users, a typical week on Instagram sees close to 1m unique users worldwide searching for travel related hashtags, with over 160M posts for #travel (Facebook IQ).
Equally, a large amount of current innovation is underpinned by machine-learning, which is the basis of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Using AI, experiences can be created through virtual reality and augmented reality. There’s novelty value, with hotels using robots to deliver room service, and whole countries are using blockchain to connect to individuals.
While the travel industry has faced disruption for a number of years now, recent developments are quickening the pace of change, altering the way in which companies interact with customers and offering ways to improve operational efficiency and meet customer expectations. Destination can now engage with customers at every stage of their journey.
Six Destination Trends to Watch in 2018
1. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR)
AR and VR have become popular among travel and tourism companies in recent years, often used to enhance the customer experience or to bring life to content and email marketing. Airlines have started using VR technology to show passengers the aircraft cabin in advance, in order to increase ticket or ancillary services sales.
People will often spend as much time planning their holidays as they do enjoying them, researching local travel guides, finding the best attractions, and deciding on the best places to stay. VR gives destination marketers the opportunity to immerse these people in the destination, increasing desire and attachment to that destination and offering insight, reassurance and excitement at the point of booking.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is behind many evolving technologies and innovations in the travel and tourism sector. It helps the industry in three ways: Machine Learning, ChatBots or TravelBots, and Robots. Operations that have previously required human intervention can now be automated. This speeds up many processes, whilst improving quality and performance and decreasing costs.
3. Voice Technology
Voice activation technology is another digital novelty that is beginning to find its place in the travel and tourism sector. As customers become more accustomed to voice activation at home and in the workplace, hotels, including W Austin of Marriott International, Kimpton Alexis Hotel and Westin Buffalo, have started experimenting with voice-activated devices such as in-room radio and Amazon’s Alexa.
4. Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT and sensor technology are the drivers of digitalisation. When airports use sensors, they can use the information they gain to use their resources more cost efficiently and improve customer retention with new services. This offers broad potential for the travel industry. For example, Lufthansa uses the IoT to allow passengers to track their baggage using a link found on their mobile boarding pass in the Lufthansa app, reducing stress for passengers and building trust in quality of service.
5. Wi-Fi connectivity
Passengers want to be connected while travelling – to get ideas and information about their destination, and to share their experience with friends via social media. Investing in network services helps airports offer a more personalised, seamless experience and boost operational efficiency and real-time decision making. Connectivity also strengthens both physical security (via CCTV) and cybersecurity, along with data privacy.
6. Wearable devices
Wearable technology is fast becoming one of the most popular innovations, with sales for wearable devices jumping from 3.1 million to 8.3 million in the year 2012. Wearable technology is an advanced form of technology that can be worn on a day-to-day basis - things like smart watches and bracelets have begun to double up as smart phones, spectacles can be used as cameras, and jewellery is designed to monitor heart-rate and other body rhythms. This technology is perfect for travel, because it is designed purely around convenience, to enhance and improve experience. It’s also small, portable and unobtrusive.
A global survey conducted by SITA showed that almost 77% of travellers would be comfortable with airlines using wearable technology like smart watches, biometric bracelets or the Google Glass. And these devices are useful for airports and travel companies too, because they provide another mobile medium through which to communicate with the customer in real time.
Disruptive Technologies in Airport E-Commerce
Using an integrated flight booking platform like Rezcomm Travel, your airport can include an aspirational, personalised and interactive destination guide that can be customised to include as many technologies as you want. The Destinations page on the Gatwick Airport website features tools including maps, departure times, weather, local highlights and information about each destination, as well as offering options for the type of holiday required. This informs the passenger at the point of research, and encourages them to make their online flight booking direct through the airport.
This dashboard empowers the passenger to co-create their journey experience with the airport, providing them with alternative options to customise their journey, in line with the expectation of a personalised, interactive purchase path, and the rise of the smart tourist. Destination guides can focus on storytelling, using video and VR/AR to inspire travellers, before, during and after their trip.
For the airport, the integrated marketing and CRM system in Rezcomm Travel offers optimised data capture, segregation and analysis to build a meaningful ongoing relationship with the customer.
Today’s traveller is also keen to delve deeper into different cultures. People want to learn new ways to experience life in new places. Your destination guide tool can include global and cultural insights to educate and inspire. Copy, images, video and other features should capture the traveller’s curiosity at the point of research.
Your airport can also act as an ambassador for your local town or city, not only welcoming visitors, but using your influence and reputation to encourage people to explore their hometown as tourists. Use Instagram Stories, video, AR and VR to show the best of your region for day-trippers and staycationers.
If you would like to speak to Rezcomm about our integrated travel booking, email marketing and CRM management solutions, contact the team today.
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