The travel and tourism industries refer to all activities that are related to the short-term movement of people to other locations away from where they usually reside. As one of the world’s largest industry, travel and tourism have driven the economies of many nations to a large extent by their tourist trade. Along with the exposure of digital revolution all around the world, the travel and tourism industry must also adapt in order to not get left behind. Let’s analyze how this digital phenomenon is slowly transforming the travel and tourism industry.

How digital revolution rapidly transforms the travel and tourism industry

Nowadays, the digital revolution has transformed the travel and tourism industry by changing user’s actions while planning their trip which includes looking for a suitable tourism destination and booking their accommodations such as flight tickets, hotels, or transportation. The most common example of digital services offered by the travel and tourism industry is online booking. Basically, there are already digital solutions for every step of users’ journey when they want to travel. For example, apps like Traveloka offers an all-in-one holistic solution for all of user’s travelling needs, while AirBnB, Red Doorz, and CouchSurfing provide a more specific solution just for their staying accommodation needs.

With that in mind, the majority of customers have also changed their habits of preparing their trip manually, to booking it online. We don’t get too see that many people coming to travel agents when they are planning to have a vacation nowadays. According to a survey by Trekksoft (2018), 91.9% of bookings were done online, either through an online marketplace, or direct booking. Not only for bookings, but users can also, and has already started doing every step of their travel needs using online services.

Travel and tourism’s old marketing strategy has also shifted into digital media marketing. Most customers rely on their digital devices when they are planning to travel. They would use their mobile phones or laptop to open digital media services such as search engines, social media, and online blogs or news to get all the information they need regarding their travel plans. The travel and tourism industry have also started using digital media like SEO, SEM, and social media marketing to raise its brand awareness along with their sales or conversion rate.

How brands could provide a personalized travel experience for customers

Google Research has shown that customers prefer personalization as it is timesaving. Tailoring information based on personal preference or past behavior is considered a need by 57% of users, while furthermore, 37% of users are willing to pay more for even better-personalized services.

The way to achieve this is by using the datafication strategy. Datafication strategy tracks every step of user’s actions while using digital services with the data mining process. By using all the data gathered from customers, every user’s persona could then be formulated and used to facilitate all their specific needs. The more options the users have, the more it could fulfill their personal preference.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) could also be used in user’s personalization. First, customer behaviours are being tracked by machines which then can be used by companies and brands to generate personalized service or product recommendations based on past user behavior such as a past purchase or past searches. Second, AI agents like chatbots or conversational UI like Siri, Google Talk, and Samsung Bixby are also proven very effective for customer service.

The next trend in digital travel and tourism industry

Remember J.A.R.V.I.S.? Yes, that robot voice you’ve been hearing in all Iron Man movies. The fact that Siri and Google Talk are already existing right now, makes it no longer a surprise to know that human-computer interaction is heading in that direction. User interaction using a voice like Siri and Google Talk, or with the newest term, Conversational UI, has been in continuous development to refine the technology. This also goes for user interaction with AI using messenger services such as LINE or WeChat. Thus, it is not too early to say that in the future, digital travel services could be offered to customers through Artificial Intelligence with Voice User Interface or Conversational UI.

This is especially due to the nature of travel activities, in which most actions are done on the move when user’s hands and eyes that are used to perform current UI interaction are pretty occupied. Voice interaction can especially be a big of help during these activities. However, the use of these voice interfaces must also depend on the context or environment. For example, voice UI cannot be used in noisy environments such as in hubs or airports. In designing user experience, an appropriate interaction should really be considered.

AR (Augmented Reality) & VR (Virtual Reality) are also great choices to facilitate customer’s needs or to enhance their travel experience. For example, American Airlines, KLM and Aeromexico use AR Bag Sizers in their mobile apps. Users can use this 3D Bag overlay over their cabin bag and see if it’s still within the limit of cabin baggage size and therefore fit to travel. Croatia Travel Co is also using VR to give a guided walking tour. This VR provides a more immersive experience in getting historical information about Croatia to users. This leads to a big verdict that someday VR might just be the best solution to help users get a great travel experience.

Looking at how everything has rapidly changed, we can conclude that the travel and tourism industry has undergone a great transformation in the digital world with even more and more improvements to come. There will barely be any obstacles for users in preparing for their travel in the future if this kind of transformation continues to grow.

Author: Shauma Hayyu Sakura (Digital Strategist)