The connected traveler of the future will expect more interactivity across all channels and a tailored, personal experience when they book a trip. They will be open to sharing personal information within reason and they will embrace the new virtual reality travel experience. But what more could the travel industry offer? We look at key industry trends, consider the challenges and imagine what the world of travel could look like in the future.
The digital revolution has created price-focused customers who are comfortable researching online on multiple platforms. It’s no surprise that new non-traditional players have gained market share.
Mobile, wearables and augmented reality offer important opportunities to connect with travelers. For those willing to develop apps for the new platforms, the rewards could be considerable.
Price will always be a primary consideration for many travelers. But there are other key drivers. Tracking of customer behavior and gathering intelligence on customers will facilitate differentiation of offering – where, for example, an eco-hotel could target environmentally-minded travelers.
Marketers will be able to connect with travelers in a timely manner on their preferred platform, perhaps offering value added, personalized services – such as in-destination solutions – for a premium. Alternatively, and at the very least, marketers could use this approach to strengthen customer relationships and to build brand loyalty.
Getting up-close and personal
One key question is this: Why would the traveler of the future be willing to share personal information, even about their health, in return for ease of travel, more choices and greater security? Does the connected consumer of the future want to draw closer to travel brands, or keep them at arm’s length?
Most people are happy to share information if there is something in it for them. For example, a traveler could be alerted about a nearby jazz festival if he has shared the information that he enjoys jazz. And biometric passports could prove popular if they promise to put an end to those long queues at passport security.
Seamless travel and a better booking experience for customers is only possible if different players in the travel agency work together. Strategic alliances and partnerships will be important in the future with the use of shared booking platforms and even the sharing of information about customer preferences.
Embrace social media
More than one quarter of travelers start their research for their trip or holiday by consulting social media and value the opinion of other travelers. As more people become “connected consumers”, the impact of social media on booking decisions will increase. Social media platforms could become a fierce battleground as companies compete for attention and try to encourage customers to visit their own domains. Customers with significant influence on social media could even use this to negotiate travel discounts or other benefits, with the value of their recommendations recognized by marketers.
The traveler of tomorrow
In summary, the travelers of the future will have different expectations to the travelers of today. They will expect to preview their trip in the virtual world before they take it in reality. They will expect ease of booking and a seamless journey. While on their trip, they’ll want timely reminders and relevant recommendations on their preferred platforms. They will for the most part feel comfortable sharing personal information such as their likes and dislikes, their location and even health information if it will make traveling easier and more enjoyable. While they will still be price focused, many will be prepared to pay for convenience, for unique experiences and for add-on luxuries.
Only by understanding and predicting future customer behavior can the travel industry keep up with new developments and make the most of opportunities. We are in a unique position to spot key trends as they emerge, using live booking data to track performance on a daily basis. Our travel team continues to provide valuable insights based on this data and on large-scale studies. These key insights could make the difference between winning and losing in the increasingly competitive travel marketplace.