According to the World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI), from 2016 to 2025, digitalisation in aviation, travel and tourism is expected to create up to US$305 billion of value for the industry through increased profitability. Also, the global market for Travel Technologies estimated at US$8.6 Billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$12.5 Billion by 2026.
These data show how technology and digitalization are a must for tourism and travel companies. But which ones are the main technology trends to watch for in the next years?
In the past few years, a growing number of travel customers are using voice search to find and book plane tickets, hotel rooms or travel experiences. Voice search allows users to find what they are looking for more quickly and easily in terms of accessibility.
But also, voice search is used to improve travel experiences. For instance, in hotel rooms, voice control devices allow guests to control lighting and heating, order a meal, check the weather forecast or obtain tourism information without needing to speak to a staff hotel member.
Robots that welcome the guests in a hotel, in airports security controls to detect prohibited items, or as waiters in restaurants. There are many uses for robots in the travel and hospitality industry, helping to reduce repetitive tasks and improving safety. The uses of robots have increased in response to Covid-19, especially as they can reduce human-to-human contact in some situations.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
We all agree that tourism is experience, in person, physically. However, virtual reality technology can be used, for instance, to do a virtual tour of a hotel to help potential customers to decide. Also, augmented reality enhances the travelling experience by providing details about local destinations on the tourist mobile, providing valuable information about a certain destination.
Moreover, the metaverse: it will never completely replace real travel, but it can be used to educate and promote a destination, hotel, cruise line or other travel experiences.
Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
According to IBM, chatbots can save companies up to 30% in their customer support costs. Thanks to AI chatbots, travel companies can improve the booking experience, provide support 24/7 during the whole journey, provide an extra level of personalization, offer multi-lingual functionality… Basically, chatbots become the personal assistant for travellers.
Data is key to understanding customer needs and offering an even more personalized experience. Tourism companies can use Big Data to gain valuable information about customers, predict their possible behaviour and provide them with relevant offers. As well, Big Data contributes to better revenue management since it allows to build forecasts based on past demand, past customer behaviour, and various external factors. When demand is predictable, pricing and promotional strategies can also be optimised.
One emerging technology that is growing in airports is facial recognition technology. Using biometrics, this technology can recognize the unique shape of your face, your eyes or fingerprints, providing a high level of security in terms of authentication. Another example is how some hotels use this technology to allow access to rooms via fingerprints or to allow for semi-contactless check-outs.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the all-around implementation of contactless solutions to keep employees and guests safe and minimize human contact. Since then, many restaurants don’t have their menu on paper and clients have to scan a QR code to see the menu on their mobile.
In addition, contactless solutions have been used a lot in payments. Contactless payments allow travel companies to process payments much more quickly, especially since the pandemic, as many people stop carrying cash. Contactless payments work by holding a credit card or other device such as a smartphone or smartwatch or, near a card reader. The user’s device communicates with the reader using RFID technology, instead of swiping a magnetic strip or inserting a credit card into a machine.
According to a WTTC report, 72% of SMEs business in the UK, US and Europe have reported at least one cyberattack in the past; and 80% of the travel industry are SMEs, proving that cybersecurity is a very real concern for the industry. Some of the biggest threats in this area include phishing attacks and ransomware attacks. This situation requires investment in cybersecurity and solutions to keep the business and data safe.