Technologies have changed the way we travel and new advances promise to make the experience even more exciting and interactive. Want to know what the near future holds?
Today no one doubts that technology and tourism are a perfect combo. This combination also greatly influences the way we travel: from what destination we choose for our vacation, to what we do when we’re there and even in the post-adventure stage. So much so that, according to a Google Travel study, 74% of leisure travelers plan their trips online, while only 13% do so through travel agencies.
Millennials have also had a lot to do with this paradigm shift. They are passionate about travel and are true fans of new technologies. This combination has given rise to this new context in which social networks, applications, blogs… play an important role when planning a trip. At the same time, the industry, aware of this trend, has adapted its business model and offers to attract all this audience.
Who hasn’t travelled to a destination just because the return flight was 30 euros at Ryanair? If we simply feel like travelling, we go on the Internet to find out what opportunities any low-cost company offers us, we see which destination can be more economical and… here we go! Something that today is totally normal, a few years ago was unthinkable.
Technology and tourism: trends and developments
As we tell you in our report on trends in the tourism sector, the industry is undergoing a profound metamorphosis. There are many factors involved but, without doubt, new technologies are one of the major players.
Salvador Anton Clavé, director of the Department of Tourism Innovation at Eurecat, said a few months ago at the TurisTIC Forum in Barcelona that “the change generated goes beyond improving processes or the tourist experience, it is about transforming the tourism system itself”. We are witnessing an improvement in processes, service, customer relations and the creation of new business models. This, of course, also has an impact on travellers, allowing them to simplify, and often enrich, the experience of planning a trip.
Below, we list some of the technologies that are marking the pace of tourism today and that will bring great changes in the short term according to different studies.
The most important technologies for the tourism industry
Without a doubt, the great protagonist of the new forms of travel. The mobile phone has become our tourist guide, travel agency, locator of the best restaurants, map, etc. It accompanies us through all stages of the purchasing process. In fact, according to TripAdvisor, 45% of users use their Smartphone for everything related to their holidays
This is why the need to adapt the company’s communication and services to these devices arises. KLM, for example, has already done so by creating an information service for the traveler through Messenger (a Facebook instant messaging application).
This system, after having purchased the tickets, sends the user the reservation information through this channel as well as the boarding pass or updates on the flight status. Thus, the user has all the information in the palm of his hand and through an application that he uses frequently without having to download another one.
Augmented reality, or virtual reality, has also entered the world of tourism, and the truth is that it is on the rise because of all the possibilities it offers. More and more companies are using it to show potential customers the inside of a cruise ship cabin or to move it, for a few seconds, to the impressive Chinese wall.
Today it is possible to “teleport” to the most remote places on the planet without moving from the sofa. This is the case, for example, with Everest thanks to the EVEREST VR application that allows you to visit the roof of the world without the effort of climbing to the top. Or, if you prefer, you can also cross the Grand Canyon in a kayak enjoying the sights and sounds of this place.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that promises to bring great news to the tourism sector. It consists of the incorporation of sensors connected to the Internet inside physical objects such as vehicles, suitcases, buildings…
In fact, the Instituto Tecnológico Hotelero (ITH) said that the Internet of Things “is going to be the biggest transformational factor in the personalization of the customer experience in the coming years.
Some Virgin Hotels, for example, offer an application to their guests with which they can interact with the room’s thermostat or control the television. There are also suitcases that incorporate a device that allows them to control where they are at any given time from their mobile phones, so that they can avoid being lost in airports, etc.
We all know Siri and Alexa, the voice assistants from Apple and Amazon who take care of our needs: what’s the weather like in my city today, turn on the radio, open my email?
Hotels are also beginning to have this “help” thanks to the creation of voice assistants created specifically for this environment. IBM has recently launched Watson Assistant, an assistant with Artificial Intelligence that creates a personalized and interactive experience for customers.
This is an open technology that companies can use and adapt to their needs. In this way, the assistant will not be called Watson but as the hotel determines.
Much has been said about the big date in recent times but not all the possibilities it offers in the tourism sector have yet been exposed. However, many companies are already taking advantage of it.
This is the case, for example, of Meliá Hoteles, which uses customer information to determine the most suitable target for a campaign. That is, it explores its database to study spending, ratings, reason for travel, nationality… and crosses that information with public data from the countries of origin to determine the most appropriate profile and achieve a higher success rate. In this way, they are able to better segment their campaigns to increase their success and optimize the investment.
Blockchain is a technology that promises to transform the world as we know it today. Although it is mainly related to the world of finance, it also seems that it can have an impact on the tourism sector.
Although there has not yet been much experience with it, it is believed that it could be useful for the identification of travellers at the airport, to ensure transparency in the opinion of tourists or easy and secure payments.
Technology in the tourism sector is making headway with 5G networks. These promise much faster data upload and download speeds, wider coverage and much more stable connections. Beyond being able to download content at 20 times the speed, 5G will allow the development and implementation of technologies that were limited by 4G. In other words, the connection between intelligent devices will be much more efficient and we will be able to start really enjoying, for example, the Internet of Things.
Immersive tourism, in which the traveller becomes the protagonist of the experience through technologies, will be possible. Thus, virtual reality, augmented reality or 360º video will be much more common and accessible.