Digitalisations has touched many areas of business in the last few years. From healthcare to finance sector – it has transformed the way companies do their business and improved their performance as well as customer experience.
Travel industry is no exception in this respect. It has seen continuous evolution in the past 10 years and the last two years of the pandemic imposed major changes onto how this industry operates today.
Travel industry has probably suffered the most due to numerous lockdowns around the globe. Nevertheless, as technologies began to develop rapidly across other sectors of economy, they also started to develop for the travel industry.
It is hard to underestimate the importance of technology development since the outbreak of Covid-19. Technologies is what differentiates successful companies from the others and creates competitive advantage that helps businesses to survive during these turbulent times. Airlines, hotels, restaurants use the latest technologies to revive the industry, improve travellers experience and ensure health safety for both their employees and customers.
Investments into IT and research and development have increased immensely for the travel industry. The development of mobile applications has become the top but not the only priority for most of the companies in this sector.
Let us see what digital trends and technologies helped to reshape the travel industry in the recent economic conditions.
1. Contactless payments
Contactless payments prevail in most business areas, including travel industry. A quick payment method saves from the hassle of having cash or debit/credit cards at hand to arrange a transaction. It is a huge time saver that benefits businesses and customers, and above all, prevents virus from spreading through cash handling.
Since the pandemic, businesses try to minimise human-to-human interaction to ensure health safety. As exciting as it can be, robotic technology properly came into our life. Starting with robot vacuums, robots are now increasingly used in hotel business for concierge, room service and luggage delivery roles. They are used in airports to detect hidden weapons. Robotic suitcases can follow you giving you the unusual hands-free experience when you travel. In restaurants, robots can serve and partially prepare food. What we once saw in the sci-fi movies has become a reality.
3. Voice recognition technologies
Voice recognition technology is what allows us to use voice search in our mobile phones. Today this technology is widely used by travellers to book tickets, find hotels, check weather forecasts etc. This trend spread onto voice-controlled devices that control heating and temperature in hotel rooms and is very likely to grow further.
4. Recognition technology
Recognition technology is what makes our interaction experience seamless. Facial recognition, fingertip recognition and other biometric identifiers have become ingrained in our everyday life and are widely used in travel industry in hotels for check-in and access of hotel room and airports for passport controls. The technology may soon be used to pay for meals in hotel restaurants just by walking through the exit.
5. AI chatbots
Improving customers’ experience is crucial for the travel industry. AI chatbots are able to provide customers with quick answers to their queries without the need to interact with a staff member. AI chatbots are great solution to frequently asked questions and common queries, especially those related to COVID-19 requirements. Moreover, the technology continues to develop and is very likely to expand its interaction with customers soon.
6. Internet of Things
Internet of Things is one of the top technologies that transforms business performance, increases efficiency, improves customer service and facilitates decision-making processes. It is a network of physical things that is embedded with software and technologies and allows exchanging data with other systems and devices over the internet. In travel industry, IoT is used in hotels to control the room environment with a single device. In airports, IoT-based suitcases equipped with sensors notify other travellers as they pass by.
Travel industry, like many others, is facing the threats of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity has become one of the key issues for companies in the travel business due to numerous employees and big volumes of customers’ data. Human error, ransom and phishing attacks make travel industry vulnerable and requires additional investments into security enhancement. Security awareness trainings and software solutions are the measures that the industry apply to ensure safety.
8. Virtual and augmented reality
The role of virtual reality in the travel industry is truly significant. Customers can explore and enjoy new locations straight in the comfort of their homes. VR tours help travellers decide whether their expectations of the place match the reality. Hotels, restaurants, spas, and national parks – all these are now available for a ‘pre-visit’ before arranging a booking.
Augmented reality is a similar technology to VR, but unlike VR, it augments the travellers’ surroundings rather than replaces it. It is a less expensive technology than virtual reality that travellers can enjoy through a smartphone/tablet device connected to the internet.
It is amazing to see how travel industry develops despite all odds of the pandemics that brought the industry to a standstill. The use of digital trends in the industry creates opportunity for growth and ensures loyal customers. Companies working in the travel industry should remember though that keeping up with the latest technology trends is essential to stay afloat.