Digital Evolution In The Travel Industry
#travel. A simple search with this hashtag today can conjure up to 160 million photos with captions, every week.
If you want to see how digital solutions have transformed the travel industry, the year 2018 was almost a game-changer.
The year witnessed almost 82% of travel bookings made without any human communication; which means either using a travel website or a mobile app.
The travel industry has been quite an early adapter of digital technology. The most common examples are when you book a train or air ticket. Airports have transformed like never before by allowing the passengers to self-check-in, rather than waiting in the queues at the counter.
Similarly, e-tickets are now sent directly on the Whatsapp numbers by travel agencies like Make My Trip. Many agencies have their business accounts registered on it and have a virtual assistant answer to the queries asked by passengers.
The last few years have been path-breaking for the travel agencies. Gone are the days when customers would dial the numbers of agencies and book their vacation tickets.
In fact, almost 69% of the travelers now prefer using the online search for everything right from deciding the place of travel, budget, and cost, air/train tickets, hotel room bookings, etc.
There are so many tour groups dedicated especially for road trips and expeditions. Airbnb, Tripoto, Hungry Tripper are some of the most popular sites that provide counseling, pieces of advice, and even help in planning a trip according to the budget, convenient dates, etc.
Valuable Customer Insights
The one main reason behind providing personalized and unique experiences tailored according to the customers is that the millennials today want something more than just generic offers.
A study revealed that 83% of Millennials agree to let the travel brands track them digitally – if that results in getting a personalized tour package. This includes their digital patterns, past traveling behaviors, and preferences.
Websites, mobile applications, and social accounts of customers can provide valuable insights into their experiences, desires, and future plans. When these insights are combined with Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Machine Learning offer an even delightful experience.
Thus, the AI Chatbots are increasingly becoming a trend, as they are a better solution having the ability to remember conversations and save all of it in a digestible format.
Human interaction has been replaced by the Chatbots only because the latter are more personalized. The year 2020 will see almost 25% of these operations to be handled by virtual assistants.
Information and Brand Awareness
The digital travel space has generated a revenue of more than 92.5 million US Dollars. Apart from that, the world segment today has approximately 57% of travelers using online reservation for bookings.
With almost every travel company offering solutions for online searching and booking hotel accommodations, travel tickets, and other hospitality services – there is a plethora of information on the search engines.
Customers can now search extensively for booking the cheapest transport facilities, type of hotel depending upon the ratings and reviews, a location which is nearby to all basic amenities, etc. Text search combined with voice search helps in delivering accuracy and real-time information.
A survey done across 25 countries revealed that voice search is used by almost 69%.
Content Marketing and Promotions
One of the easiest and important ways to increase brand awareness is through content marketing. Marketing is a medium between the travel companies and customers through which they communicate.
One of the most widespread trends in the travel industry has been Travel Blogging and Vlogging. Blogging is about writing about one's own experiences and adventures, while Vlogging is posting a video about giving all the information required.
Both these media have helped a lot of potentials and seeking travelers to get firsthand information about everything from places to stay, what, when and how to visit, planning itineraries, what to take on the trip according to the weather conditions, and much more.
As per the year 2018, the percentage of Indian citizens using smartphones to seek directions stands the highest at 87%.
Social Media Marketing
More than ads, social media has a strong influence over customers when it comes to making decisions related to travel. Social media is bigger than ever before. All the small and big travel brands are increasingly spreading their online presence in social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Travel brands are collaborating with many travel bloggers and sponsoring their trips too. All this because these bloggers have gained a large audience of followers on their social handles. This provides the companies with an already established platform to promote their trips.
Travel products like backpacks, shoes, trekking sticks, tents, etc. are also promoted and sold through sponsoring these bloggers. Many travel brands are organizing special giveaways, photo contests, and trips for the eager travelers.
They are asked to put up a profile of them describing themselves and their past traveling experiences. These profiles are then put up to be voted among their followers – resulting in some winners who would be going to a travel destination.
While planning trips around 30% of the customers would want to look at social media to help them make a decision.
According to Stephen Gray, an analyst on Facebook, the findings indicate that around 67% of travel seekers use Instagram to discover new places to travel.
Moreover, 70% of users share their next travel plans. Gray also found that many of these users use Instagram while on-the-go too. This is mostly to find new cuisines, local traditional places – to make their traveling experiences even cherishing.
Towards a Personalized Shared Economy
“Traveling leaves you speechless, and then turns you into a storyteller." - Ibn Battuta.
Today’s era has given a new meaning to these words – where people are embracing travel and then turning themselves into storytellers across various media. Digitalization hasn’t left any stone unturned in the travel ecosphere.
An exploding shared economy has evolved where highly personalized experiences for choosing places to stay, discover new things and getting around; has helped in solving those unmet customer needs that we didn’t even know existed before.