By Marta Poggi
The increasing use of new technologies has changed consumer behaviour and had a direct impact on tourism business.
The 4.0 traveller uses a mobile phone at every stage in the purchasing process: from inspiration for the trip to the return home. Those companies that use technologies for knowing their customers better, are online and offer good buying and consumption experiences stand out in a highly competitive market.
It’s essential that we follow global trends in tourism in order to plan and make the best decisions for our companies. The main trends in the travel industry are:
- Artificial Intelligence
Among the new technologies available, it’s AI that has been spreading the fastest. Robots are helping passengers at airports and carrying out various operational tasks in hotels and restaurants in China and Japan.
Chatbots are frequently used by hotels, destinations, airlines, etc., and we’re seeing biometrics being used to speed up boarding on cruise liners and at airports. There’s even a self-driving tour bus in Finland.
- Virtual Reality
Virtual reality adapts very well to tourism and offers an immersive experience by which users can have a “free sample” of the destination, hotel, excursion, event, etc.
VR has been used in onboard entertainment. Iberia makes glasses available on its Madrid/Telaviv flights and passengers can access interactive games and a variety of content on destinations to which the company flies.
- Big Data
Data are readily available and allow those who use them best to become more competitive. In an age when people think that everything’s being done “for them”, the personalization of what’s on offer is fundamental when it comes to attracting, converting and surprising customers. That’s why data use is key.
- The use of voice
Voice command when looking for and booking hotels is seen as the next major disruption in hotel distribution. It’s already possible to book a hotel (and restaurants) in two minutes using Google Assistant. Studies show that within two years, 50% of all searches will use voice. In terms of distribution, this means major changes in the game, and this will have a direct influence on OTAs and both hotel chains and independent hotels.
We talked about the importance of offering unique experiences more than 10 years ago, but very little progress has been made in Brazil since then. In addition to offering experiences that impress tourists, it’s also essential to offer a good buying experience; in other words, facilities in the palm of the hand so that customers are delighted with the brand and do not move on to the adjoining site.
We live in a world of information overload and it’s visual content that attracts the attention of the users of websites and social networks. A study by Schofields (2017) shows that 40% of millennials choose “instagrammable” destinations, hotels and restaurants. They choose places that will “rock” their social networks.
EasyJet understood this user profile well and launched its Look&Book app in 2018. In Instagram, EasyJet “prints” the photo of the destination, places it on the app, which recognizes the place, and right away shows the flights that can be bought. It’s that simple!
- Digital Detox
It might seem contradictory, but it makes perfectly good sense. With so much technology and connectivity we’re going to need times when we’re disconnected from the routine. It’s changing from FOMO (fear of missing out), the reason why we access social networks all the time, to JOMO (joy of missing out), when we want to focus on analogous experiences. In Spain, 75% of the luxury tourists said they would like unplugged holidays.
The changes will come faster and faster and we need to follow them closely. A good way of doing this is by taking part in WTM. We’ll see you in 2020!
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America.