The world is on the move. People are travelling more than ever and according to a report by World Tourism Organization, it is estimated that by 2030 a global population of 8.5 billion people will take approximately 2 billion international trips. Travel has progressed by leaps and bounds and so have travellers. Thus, the industry ought to constantly transform and enhance itself in numerous ways from technology to sustainability.
Next-generation technologies are changing the ways we travel, how we define transportation and mobility options. We travel faster but we are also fortunate to have better-quality, more comfortable accommodations together with helpful tools and apps that let us do it more frequently. Technology has forever changed the way billions travel either for pleasure or business. Smartphones, AI, electronic payments, social media and so on have, for better and worse, affected travel in incalculable ways.
It is common knowledge that what have kept customers pleased 10 years ago no longer works today. Internet and new technologies have wholly transformed consumption behaviours and the travel sector has advanced tremendously as a result of digital technologies. These changes in consumers’ behaviour can be summarized in three ways: firstly, modern clients demand assistance with more immediacy than they have ever had; secondly, consumers expect a seamless experience when interacting with brands, no matter the channel, from messaging apps and emails to face-to-face contact; and lastly, costumers respond positively to personalised content and services. Technology is the one to blame for customers’ higher demands and changes in travel patterns.
Here are some of the most significant technological changes that have affected the way we travel:
1. Technology made travelling more environmentally friendly and less time-consuming
If you choose to, with the precious help of technology, travel can become a lot eco-friendlier. Gone are the days where there was a need to print the airline ticket, boarding pass or hotel reservation. Thanks to online reservations, mobile check-ins and e-tickets we can save large amounts of paper and not worry about carrying numerous documents around. This is a win-win situation. Furthermore, online reservations and bookings are time-savers, as there is no need to stay in line to get a ticket.
2. Technology changed our packing routines and saved us a lot of space!
Nowadays, technology is all about trying to squeeze the most functions and roles into one tiny gadget. We no longer need an iPod to listen to music, all we need to have is a Spotify or iTunes account and we are able to stream music on the go. The same thing goes for books, it is the end of worrying where to fit them inside our suitcases. Amazon Kindles or Kobo (e-readers) save a ton of space in our bags.
3. Technology helped us surpass language barriers
Not so long ago, there was the need to carry a phrasebook in the language of the place we were going to travel. Today, all that is needed is a smartphone and with the support of apps like Google Translate or iTranslate, the times of struggle when interacting with locals have come to an end. Google’s Translate app even lets you use your smartphone camera to translate signs or menus in real time. In addition, apps like Duolingo allow you to learn a new language or improve the one you are already familiar with, all this without spending money on classes.
4. Technology changed the way we book a flight, a room, access hotel services, are informed of daily events and seek advice to sightsee a city– Chatbots for the win!
Chatbots have become the perfect travel companion. Many hotels and flight companies already offer messaging options to their customers, either by giving the ability to text them through their own apps or establishing messaging channels like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. But the real revolution is chatbots — they are becoming huge assets to this industry. Chatbots allow a person to interact with either a human or artificial intelligence via a chat interface. Bearing in mind that messaging apps are becoming the new social media, it only makes sense that companies start to integrate this type of services in their repertoire.
For instance, HiJiffy is a chatbot that connects guests with hotel’s staff through Facebook Messenger. AI allows the chatbot to answers the most commonly asked question almost instantaneously, users can check rates, availability and make the booking directly on Messenger. Moreover, whenever the bot can’t answer the question, it will hand off to a human agent. We believe that our product will revolutionize the hospitality industry by empowering hotels with a tool that will provide guests with the right service at the right time.
5. Electronic Payments made travelling safer and easier
Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Wallet — everything is so much easier with electronic payments. Among the advantages of going cashless it is worth to highlight two of them: the convenience — there is no longer the need to carry a lot of cash, a couple of credit cards or even stay in the queue for ATM withdrawals. And lower risk — especially true while travelling abroad, where the loss of cash can cause a great inconvenience. Once fully integrated one does not have to worry about credit card fraud or changing cards.
6. Technology allowed us to have more personalised and unique experiences
The buzzword for the travel industry is personalisation. Indeed, modern travellers, particularly Millennials, are on the lookout for customised and unique experiences and with the help of technological advancements they can find them. Chatbots, niche websites, blogs, apps and services have created a space where one can let imaginations run wild and end up finding a real-life version of the “dream trip”.
Blockchain technology is in its initial stages, but it is clear that it will change many industries in radical ways. Regarding the travel industry itself, an understandable implementation of this innovative technology would be in identification and personalisation.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Mariana Marques from HiJiffy. HiJiffy brings chat to the hospitality industry, enabling guests to effectively connect with Hotels through instant messaging apps.