As a consumer, travel is a lot like fashion – both are subject to taste that keeps on evolving, both are aspirational needs that define us and our personalities, and technology is slowly changing both the industries in fundamental ways that have a huge impact on consumer behaviour. Like fashion is seeing the advent of wearable sensors and 'smart'-wear, technology is being deployed to make the traveller’s experience stress-free and enjoyable.
Here are a few trends that are creating a huge buzz in the travel network:
- Your television set will soon book your next vacation: During one of its studies, Madrid-based travel tech company Amadeus observed an interesting spike in search activity for Jamaican holidays when the lead characters of Sex and the City went to Jamaica for the weekend.
With the collusion of smart devices around us, personalised tech will be so sophisticated that even before we know what we want and when we want the bookings would have been done. Imagine booking a trip for Corsica next time you are watching Ranbir and Deepika dancing on screen in Tamaasha!
- Shift in how travellers choose their next holiday destination: The travel industry is seeing a fundamental shift in how travellers are influenced to pick their next destination, and it’s not the number of reviews or the ratings on a platform, but how experiential and differentiated the content is. More experiential (using virtual reality) or more differentiated (maybe a first person recap using GoPro or non-linear VR) the content, the deeper the engagement with the traveller and likelier that that traveller will pick this destination.
Creative minds put together an offer that is unique like a Try-before-you-Fly service, which uses proprietary VR content to help travellers choose a destination among more than 50 countries and 500 tourism sites around the world. Who wouldn’t want to experience how a boat ride along the Grand Canyon would feel like in real, before actually booking the ride?
- Increased awareness around travel insurance: A fellow traveller’s perfect profile picture may invoke envy, but, a horrible experience or a frustrated rant ends up spreading like wild fire (or going viral); and hence the need for travel insurance is rising. The cause may be a hurricane or a terrorist strike or a delayed flight or misplaced luggage. There is an insurance policy covering most of these instances and travellers are willing to pay more to protect their holiday savings.
- Payments leapfrogging from cash to digital: About 4.6 million people are flying around the world every day. Every two seconds a plane either takes off or lands at an airport, and every passenger carries currency that is either leftover or fully loaded for in-destination spending. There is a large market, the margins are low, the consumer is unhappy and tech-savvy – this industry is ripe for disruption. Innovative travel companies working on a digital forex wallet that offer a seamless and secure way to spend, store and convert multiple foreign currencies are quickly taking the market by a storm. Imagine your Paytm wallet on steroids, being able to use the wallet around the world in any currency, without the need to pay conversion charges.
- Chatbots: The concept of Google Now is great, and consumers love when the information they need is right at their fingertips. But only information is not enough when you are in foreign land and in need of some real-world help – it could be as simple as communicating directions to your cab driver in Chinese or connecting to Internet in a foreign land or enquiring if a dish is vegetarian or not. In all these scenarios, a chat-bot enabled assistant that is an expert in all these use cases and accessible at your fingertips is something you won’t be able to imagine your travel without.
Travelling will never be a whole lot of fun if you do not experiment with newer ideas added to your travel itinerary, nor can it be called an expensive affair any longer. So, make the best of technology and innovation this travel season.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)