Travel and Hospitality industry was among the first to start widely using digital in its interactions with customers – first to ease the usual difficulties of trip planning and arrangement, then in all kinds of other ways. Today both common and potential uses of digital in the industry are much more varied – and no business can hope to remain abreast of its competitors if it doesn’t try to keep up with the times. In this article, we will speak about some of the most important trends altering the landscape of T&H industry even at this very moment.
Shift from Desktop to Mobile
Gone are the times when booking a ticket off one’s PC was a norm. Today it is all about mobile, especially when we are talking about younger audiences, the so-called digital natives. They are much more likely to use mobile devices to book their tickets and do all other kinds of interactions with your business. This means that if you want to engage with your clients, you have to roll out your own mobile apps that would provide a deeper level of contact than just the ability to book a hotel. They should be useful beyond this – for example, providing information about potentially interesting locations near the hotel and leading the customer to additional services they may need during their trip.
Seamless Customer Experience
Customers these days are much more proactive than they used to be. Traditionally, travel agents used to deal with booking for their clients. Today any customer has an opportunity to book a trip, hotel tickets, airfare, rent a car and even do more involved things like getting an India visa on his own, without any input on the part of a travel agent. If a customer isn’t fully satisfied with a service provided by a business, he isn’t going to tolerate it – he will just find another place where he can get better service cheaper. It can be said that customers are no longer hostages of their travel agents, but the opposite is true – travel agents have to predict every potential wish of their clients to prevent them from leaving for greener pastures. And this can only be done by providing a seamless customer experience that allows the customer to get everything they want without ever needing to look for it elsewhere.
Artificial Intelligence, Real-Time Analytics, and Personalization
It is hard to think of another industry that would benefit more from personalization than T&H. If you can discern a customer’s traveling preferences and predict what he likes and wants, you have a much greater chance of influencing his decisions and persuading him to use your services. Of course, analyzing this sort of information manually is nigh-impossible when it comes to dealing with hundreds or thousands of individual people – which is why the emergence of automated analytical algorithms is of such great help. They not only gather information about customers in real time but analyze it as well and allow businesses to make a significant step towards true personalization when each customer gets offers and services tailored individually to their preferences.
Massive Use of Social Media
According to the research done by Nielsen for Google, more than a half of people preparing to book a trip turn to social media to look for tips. Modern savvy travelers are much less likely to be swayed with TV advertisements and other kinds of traditional media – they are looking for more personal sources of information, and social media, even if we talk about accounts run by companies, are often perceived as a more individual voice than that of a typical ad. Everybody uses them for marketing purposes, from small hotels to enormous multinational hospitality chains. It is especially effective when done via the Employee Advocacy – that is when a business is promoted not via its official channel but via personal accounts of its employees. As people are hard-wired to be more accepting of the messages received from individuals opposed to ones received from organizations, this method usually shows much greater returns.
Travel and Hospitality industry is changing rapidly, probably more rapidly than the majority of other industries – and it is important to stay ahead of the game if you want to keep afloat.