The travel experience then and now: How technology has transformed the travel industry
By Sanchit Garg Co-Founder and CPO, TravelTriangle
When was the last time you booked a train ticket at a railway platform? When was the last time you consulted your maternal aunts and uncles for a holiday who had gone on a group tour themselves? When was the last time you asked your Geography teacher to throw light on your dream destination? Seems like ages ago, isn’t it? That’s how fast humans are evolving and their exposure to information and places is increasing at a rapid pace.
This phenomenon is largely dominated by the technology evolution right from computer to internet to smart phones and now to virtual reality. In other words, technology is making everything possible with information at your fingertips. Let’s look at how technology has shaped the modern travel industry and how the travel experience has moved to the better.
Mapping the travel experience with technology
A long time ago, going on a family holiday meant the parents being in charge of the holiday planning because they knew the neighborhood travel agent who in turn knew in and out of the destination. What has changed now? The dependency on one familiar neighborhood travel agent has eroded, thanks to technology which has exposed one to gamut of information to first learn about the destination and then make an informed choice. In other words, the travel agents’ role has been replaced by online travel websites.
But what gets critical from this point onwards is to plan the holiday to the letter. That doesn’t mean to be just acquainted with the destination but also know the art of buying the various holiday package components at the right price. Thus, comes the importance of a marketplace model where holiday planning is not at the mercy of one website/travel agent. While airline/railway/bus booking is a relatively easier task that can be done online now, holiday planning and booking is a rather elaborate task. Online e-commerce marketplace, a technology product, is a type of e-commerce site where product or service information is provided by multiple third parties, whereas transactions are processed by the marketplace platform. The benefit for the marketplace platform is to not hold any inventory and the benefit of the traveler is to be exposed to multiple vendors, in this case travel agents, to review and compare their respective offering.
In the recent times, the holiday planning is not confined to buying a standard group tour package but to take control of each component that goes into making a holiday package – which are primarily the transport options from the city of departure, accommodation, inter-city transport & activities at the destination. This leads to a possibility of customizing each component, thus, enabling the creation of holiday package as per one’s individual needs and requirements. And with the travel agent now locally present at the destination in most cases, knowledge of the local place is immense and the components’ pricings are reasonable. So through an interactive product, that is, a website or a mobile site or a mobile app, keep clicking got easier than keep calling to craft your holiday!
The online booking process through mobile applications instead of traditional websites has become a smarter and convenient option. Mobile applications collect traveler data through research tools, geo-location data, past bookings and predictive analytics to extend deals and promotions to the traveler and offer more value to his/her purchase and increase conversions on the marketplace platform.
It is not just holiday planning which is now ruled by technology but also the holiday experience. The traveler has several camera/video options to capture their happy holiday moments. Not just that, if something goes wrong during the holiday, the traveler has options of reaching out to the concerned travel agent or service provider through an interactive product. This way, travelling to an unknown territory seems less stressful and lets one enjoy the holiday the way it should be.
The ubiquity of technology in daily life
It is unimaginable today to go through a day without a single interaction with technology. A young working professional’s day begins with planning his appointments and tasks on his mobile/app calendar, book a cab online to reach office, respond to emails on the smartphone while on the go, quickly order grocery through an app on the way back home and so on and so forth.
It is a blessing to have technology ease our life to such a large extent. The digital revolution is here to stay largely because more and more people are adapting to the winds of change. It is not only the travel experience that has been transformed with technology but nearly every daily activity that we perform. As Albert Einstein had once said “it has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” And it is both a good and a bad thing, but that’s for a separate discussion.