In the past few years, businesses have had to adapt to economic and global challenges, which has led to changes in how they use technology. McKinsey & Company conducted a study which showed that companies from all sectors have drastically sped up the digitization of customer and supply chain interactions since COVID-19, with some advancing by three or four years.
Many industries are experiencing a shift in narrative where technology is no longer just seen as a cost-efficient tool, but rather as an integral part of running a successful business. And it seems like the changes happening in the digital world are likely to stick around for a while. Customers are demanding more online communication and purchasing, assets are moving to the cloud more frequently, and businesses are incorporating advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, automation, and analytics.
So, when it comes to the travel industry, we've got a pretty interesting question on our hands: how can travel providers keep up with customers' needs in this digital world, and what are some of the ways that travel technology is already changing the landscape?
Data Usage To Create More Personalized Experiences
Personalization is a trend that's taking the consumer world by storm - and not just in travel. According to Google, over half of US travelers expect tailored information based on their past preferences. This means that travel providers will need to adapt and use customer data and analytics to provide the best possible experience for their clients.
Customer data means there is more opportunity to personalize travel experiences, plus, and provide a more rounded, connected experience for the customer. In fact, 13% of all attendees at our 2023 MarketHub Americas event suggested that they were planning on offering more personalized services, with 11% planning to create and use more data to do so.
By collecting customer data and combining this with powerful tools like predictive analytics, travel advisors and travel tech companies can better predict customer behavior, trends in the market, and keep ahead in this fast-paced industry.
McKinsey & Company also suggest that brands will increasingly use ‘ecosystems’ to personalize journeys from beginning to end - meaning that personalization for customers won’t stop when they arrive in their destination or at their hotel, but continue in partnering ecosystems which include the restaurants they eat in, the bars and clubs and shops they visit during their stay. To make this happen, customer data that reflects their past behaviors and preferences is necessary. This will help create a network of travel providers that offer comprehensive customer service, including in-destination experiences.
Customisation At Bedsonline
At Bedsonline, we're proud to offer our search and marketing tool, The Compass. It's a great way for us to use customer data to provide valuable insights for our partners.
Offering data with a market-centric approach, The Compass helps you:
- Identify trending destinations and booking patterns specific to your market.
- Refine searches with time-saving filters to better meet your clients' needs.
As an added bonus, The Compass also lets you create personalized marketing materials to capture client interest and increase the likelihood of a booking. It's just one of the many ways we're working to make the lives of travel advisors easier!
Once you have a good understanding of the trends in your markets and your clients' needs, you can start planning the perfect trip for them. Our digital travel brochure, Star Brochures, is full of insightful articles on trending destinations, itinerary ideas, and the latest travel trends, as well as practical, time-saving features like ‘look-to-book’ buttons that streamline the booking process.
Both The Compass
and our digital Star Brochures
are part of the suite of tech solutions we offer exclusively for our Bedsonline partners, so register your agency today
to access time-saving, revenue-boosting tools like this!
Smart Hotel Technology
Smart hotel technology is a game changer for improving customer experience and is changing the way that travelers interact with hotels, and by extension, their expectations from their ideal hotels during the booking stage! By collecting customer data during their stay and processing it with AI machine learning, hotels can gain valuable insights into customer preferences and offer even more customized experiences during their stay - even investing in cloud-based technologies can streamline operations, reduce staffing needs, and ultimately enhance the guest experience.
When it comes to defining a smart hotel, one key aspect is the ability for customers to easily control devices and services through AI, AR, or digital connectivity. This can encompass everything from voice-controlled smart room technology to energy-efficient features, facial recognition, and automation. In-room technology could also be controlled by apps and mobile devices, such as guests adjusting air temperature, lighting and air conditioning through app-based platforms or smart meters.
Simply put, a truly smart hotel makes life easier for its guests!
New Ways Of Paying For Trips
Within the travel industry, the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payment scheme has dramatically grown in popularity in the last few years. In fact, BNPL loans in the USA grew rapidly by 970% between 2019 and 2021, to 180 million loans. This, naturally, is not just within travel - but speaks of a wider shift towards more flexible payments, and a growing importance that as travel advisors you’re offering your clients a wider range of ways to fund their trips.
Of course, with this rapid increase in BNPL loans, this has brought with it equal concerns over consumers getting hit with late fees, and increasing financial difficulty in certain economies, as well as the risk of potential customers running up debt.
To combat this, new apps centred around the Save Now, Buy Later (SNBL) premise are taking off, including apps like Monkee currently operating in Germany and Austria, and Sugar, which works with OTAs as partners to offer travellers pre-payment solutions in a frequency of their choosing to pay for a trip later down the line. These apps ‘flip’ the BNPL narrative into something that enables people to travel and reach their goals even though they may not have the money available at the time of booking.
These apps work in a similar way to a loyalty or reward programme from a bank with rewards offered when purchases are made with associated partners - but with travel-focused SNBL apps offer ‘savings’ which accrue when purchases are made with their associated partners, to be used at a later date.
These SNBL apps capitalize on the high purchase intent in their customers, and also use the inputted data regarding their trip preferences and specifics, such as the destination and time of year, to curate deals that match their purchasing and saving behaviours.
And of course, it's critical that the travel partner you work with as travel advisors offers flexible payment opportunities for your clients to ensure that you're meeting their needs during booking - luckily this is something that at Bedsonline we offer as standard!
Why not check out our guide on how working with Bedsonline can help you offer more flexible experiences, using our payment options to curate the ideal trip for any customer?
Did you know that the Tourism sector is responsible for up to 8% of global CO2 emissions? And out of that, the hospitality industry alone contributes around 2%. It's interesting to note that hotels have a carbon footprint of 96kgCO2e/m², making it even more crucial for them to take steps towards reducing their emissions. These recent insights from CBRE highlight the need for establishments in the hospitality and leisure industry to prioritize sustainability efforts.
One of the ways that this can be, and is being done, is through the use of sustainable travel technology within hotels specifically! All levels of the travel industry must prioritize sustainability and continue working towards a greener future, but within the hospitality industry in particular there is a huge opportunity to implement truly game-changing initiatives.
Here are just a few examples of sustainable technology which hotels around the world are adopting:
- Operational systems such as Energy Management Systems (EMS), Guest Room Management Systems (GRMS), Property Management Systems (PMS), and Building Management Systems (BMS).
- Online check-in and automated ticket management for guest requests
- Digitized communications and collaboration technology: for shareholders, corporate communications and even for guests, to reduce the carbon footprint that comes with printed or physical resources.
- Renewable sources of energy: solar or photovoltaic, to lower the impact of high-consumption services like air conditioning.
Why Is Sustainable Technology Important?
During our discussion about the traveler of tomorrow, we discovered that Gen Z is a crucial profile for the travel industry. With their vocal support for sustainable travel, they have become a driving force in the industry; though Millennial travelers also suggest that the ecological impact of transport, accommodation and activities is influential on their travel booking decisions. According to Google Insights, over half of surveyed travelers suggested that environmental and sustainable considerations were essential to them when planning travel.
And at Bedsonline, our global portfolio is an ever-growing network of hotels and properties which are dedicated to changing the way that travel looks for the travellers of today and tomorrow. With our time-saving ‘Green Hotel’ filter in our booking platform, we enable travel advisors to quickly and easily cater for eco-conscious travelers while still offering them stunning properties in trending destinations around the world.
Register your travel agency today
to take advantage of our global portfolio, with over 300,000 properties worldwide, and thousands of activities and transfers to enrich your clients’ experiences.
VR as a Marketing Tool
VR provides a unique opportunity for travel advisors and travel sellers worldwide to create immersive experiences of a destination, attraction, or activity. This can be used as a supplement or even a replacement for traditional promotional tools like printed brochures! During the COVID-19 pandemic, VR had a major impact due to its capacity to offer users the chance to explore new locations and take virtual tours of attractions worldwide, and it continues to offer huge opportunities for the travel industry beyond this.
VR allows potential travelers to make a more connected judgement of a new destination, hotel or tourism experience. It offers them a chance to more intrinsically understand what will be offered to them, and therefore influence the decision-making process and make interested travelers more likely to book. It is clear that VR has become a valuable tool for the travel industry, and its popularity is only likely to grow in the coming years!
Some real life examples of successful VR marketing:
- Unveiled at Fitur 2023, Amadeus announced plans to offer virtual experiences and previews of trips for travelers to travel agencies with its ‘Triportation’ program. This innovative development will provide a mix of ‘VR, AI and metaverse’ to enhance the travel experience at critical moments in the booking journey.
- The use of a VR web portal (Bihor360) was used to successfully promote sustainable tourism in Romania, with positive effects on the awareness, protection and conservation of historical and cultural monuments.
Customer-Centric Artificial Intelligence
As the demand for travel continues to expand, and customers of all demographics are more expectant of digital processes in their daily lives, travel providers must dramatically rethink how they’re ensuring customer satisfaction.
Artificial intelligence has been around for quite some time now, but it's only recently that it's really been making its way into the business world. And while there are definitely some challenges to using machine learning and AI, it's hard to ignore the potential benefits. Of course, for the travel industry, it's important to strike the right balance between the ease and efficiency of automation, and the need to deliver unique, personalized experiences for today’s traveler.
The most promise in this realm lies with features like intelligent Chatbots - which use natural language processing (NLP) to accurately respond and engage with users.
Using chatbots in businesses can be a great way to provide convenient and efficient customer service. They can handle everything from pre-booking inquiries to post-booking assistance, making it easier for customers to get the help they need. In fact, research from Meta has shown that 65% of customers feel more connected to businesses that offer messaging options, and many prefer contacting businesses via chat.
From pre-booking enquiries to post-booking assistance, Chatbots offer:
- A direct channel of communication from customer to business, simplifying the way that customers used to contact travel providers in the past.
- Seamless customer service - when implemented correctly.
- The ability to gather crucial data - allowing businesses to learn about their customer needs to better meet them.
Our CEO Nicolas Huss, suggests that technology like chatbots allows travel advisors to ‘provide an elevated personalized experience by remembering preferences and automatically implementing them each time an individual books their next trip.’
VR In-Destination Apps
Travelers these days have a plethora of travel technology options to use and interact with while exploring new destinations. Whether it's immersive galleries, museums, or exhibitions from techLab or the mixed reality playgrounds of Meow Wolf in the USA, VR and AR games from companies like Gamebox in London, the way that travelers engage with technology in-destination is changing. Augmented reality is becoming more and more available in big cities around the world, and even theme parks like Super Nintendo World are bringing guests a wide range of immersive activities, rides and exploration spaces.
But what is emerging is a whole new way for travelers to discover their destinations of choice, with app-based VR and AR experiences paving the way for a whole new realm of tourism where travelers’ experiences are enriched with interactive technology.
An interesting example of collaboration can be seen in Japan with Kumamon Land. This project was created through a partnership between Kumamoto prefecture and a prominent tech company and marketing agency. It provides an app-based metaverse where users can explore a virtual world inspired by the real-life location of Kumamoto. Singapore's National Heritage Board also introduced an innovative augmented reality trail app called BALIKSG. This app provides travelers with an immersive trail experience, allowing them to explore the rich history of Singapore through augmented reality. Similarly, Qatar Airways has launched an immersive experience called Qverse, which offers travelers the opportunity to navigate the Hamad International Airport, engage with a MetaHuman cabin crew called ‘Sama’, and even check-in using the platform!
So, there you have it! These are just a few of the ways that all-new travel tech is challenging the previously separate worlds of virtual and augmented reality and travel, breaking down boundaries within the travel experience. And what, as travel agents, you need to be aware of especially when communicating with clients and trying to meet their needs.