Digital technology has transformed the way travel businesses work. From paperwork to online records, everything has changed at a pace where companies are now handling hundreds of thousands of bookings every single day, compared to just a few hundred a decade ago. The travel industry has undergone a metamorphosis, transitioning from traditional selling through agents to web-based selling; giving the tech-savvy customers multitude of options to choose from. Multiple channels are integrated on a single platform, including retail, web, mobile, print and phone and the travel companies are providing a seamless experience irrespective of the channel used.
Despite this massive transformation, not all companies have dedicated digital marketers. About 16% of travel and hospitality companies lack a digital transformation team. Out of others, about 35% saw their companies as ‘leading the way’ while 48% (almost half) considered themselves as ‘fast followers’. Technology is the differentiating factor in an otherwise cut-throat environment. Companies in the travel sector have now started to understand the threat of under investment in technology. The following table shows the responses of companies when asked “How digital technology has disrupted your industry and which statement best describes your organization today?” –
|We are leading the way and we are part of the digital disruption in our sector||35%|
|We are fast followers. Our strategy is to observe the market closely, track innovators and adjust and match demands once a new concept has proven its potential.||48%|
|We are threatened by disruptive forces in our industry and are under pressure to seek ways to meet these challenges.||14%|
|We don’t see much change in our sector, either from established or emerging competitors.||
When asked if their organizations have an individual or a team responsible for digital transformation, the companies responded as follows –
- About 43% said that they have a central, integrated function for this.
- About 37% said they have a cross-functional team.
- About 4% said they have a team but it operates as a separate innovation hub.
- About 16% said they don’t have anyone responsible for digital transformation.
A recent study shows data on what travelers are expecting from companies, how companies are trying to fulfill their demands, how some companies are struggling to cope up with their demands and what they can do to keep up with the advancements in technology.
What travelers expect from travel companies?
- Travellers expect to be remembered at all touch points of their journey.
- They expect the travel companies to keep them updated with the latest information regarding flight delays and hotel status.
- They expect to get personalized guides and recommendations so as to save their time and make their trip more exciting by visiting different well-known destinations.
- They expect uniformity, i.e. they want the same digital experience across all their devices, whether smartphones, tablets or computers.
- They expect a feeling of being just at home, i.e. do everything that they do at home, like surfing through pictures, watching videos, etc.
- They expect to get real-time information about their surroundings, like a new show or an event happening close to where they have checked-in, any changes in their reservations, trending movies, and so on. In all, they expect a good digital experience from travel companies.
How companies are responding to these travelers’ demands?
- Companies are meeting travelers’ demands by transforming their businesses to embrace new technologies. They are transitioning from physical to digital servers. Like mentioned before, they are transforming from cluttered paper work to fast and easy-to-maintain digital records.
- They are building consistent and personalized experiences throughout a traveller’s journey by offering him details at every touch point of his journey, from flight arrival, to delays in flights, to check-in in hotels, to events and go-to places near his location, to returning home. Companies are also building a great experience by implementing new web and mobile technologies and giving travellers a unified experience across all their devices.
- Companies are building digital products by bringing agility in platform building and by digitizing the process to easily roll out new ideas, innovation and new features to market.
The reasons why some companies are struggling to cope up with travelers’ demands, are –
- Not using mobile as their marketing strategy. By doing this, they are missing out on a big customer opportunity.
- Still using old technology. By doing this they are not bringing innovation and new features to the market thereby lacking in their role of utilizing new opportunities.
- Not leveraging customer data adequately and not optimizing customer relationships. By doing this, they are missing out on building loyalty in customers.
What companies can do to keep up with the advancements in technology and satisfy their travelers’ needs?
- Personalize customers’ travel experience by designing new apps that give details to customers regarding their trips.
- Merge customer data from all sources and build a comprehensive view of every customer.
- Create highly targeted offers and personalized services by predicting user behaviour and analyzing the data to understand customers.
- Support digital programs by building enterprise class applications and scalable infrastructure with the cloud.
It is important for travel companies to not only capitalize on the latest advancements in technology but also have a complete picture of how travelers think and behave and how technology trends can impact and shape their business. We are looking forward from travel companies for new and innovative ways to express themselves and understand their customers. Every single deal, every attention to detail, and every interaction with the customer will help their customers turn into loyal customers and those who embrace this will win the game and emerge as successful brands. If you have any thoughts to share on this article, please comment in the comment section below. Also join us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.