How Consumer Behaviors and Expectations are Transforming the Travel Industry

February 21, 2019 Sumesh Chawla

 

Since the advent of online travel booking, consumer behaviors have driven a major shift in the travel industry as a whole — not only in the way they book their travel but also in the way they learn about travel destinations, evaluate travel choices and purchase travel-related gear. Continued growth in consumer expectations and the sophistication of technology promise that this transformation will continue for the foreseeable future.

Technology brings travel to every corner of consumers’ lives

Ask Alexa about a suitcase and you’re sure to see it advertised the next time you log in to your Amazon account. Search for activities in a far-off destination and you might start noticing advertisements for flights and hotels when you get there. In today's AI-driven landscape, consumers are getting used to a new experience in travel.

Both the business and personal travel experience have changed dramatically due to technology advancements. From a decline in travel agents to self-service check-in kiosks at the airport, self-service and efficiency are the way to go. But these trends in travel innovation didn't happen overnight. It took years for consumer preferences and technology to evolve to this point.

The future of travel industry solutions is likely to follow the same trajectory as mobile adoption and new and unique services drive consumer travel to the next stage.

From personal service to personalized digital self-service

The old world of travel was one of luxury and prestige. Think of Don Draper boarding a transcontinental flight in the era of Mad Men. Every personal need was catered to by a large number of people with personal interactions.

Over time, consumer preferences shifted to cheaper and faster service. With the advent of the internet, this shift accelerated. Now instead of a slow call to a phone center or travel agent, someone can quickly research flight prices and book in a few clicks. Instead of sitting around ready a magazine before your flight takes off, you can pull up a seat at many of today’s airport restaurants and order lunch, check your flight or play games straight from the tablet affixed to your seat at the table.

The concept of automation in air travel is nothing new, but once upon a time the idea of a self-service experience where you don't interact with an airline employee until you reach the gate would be unthinkable. Today it's the norm.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-driven bots are showing up as a new opportunity for technology and travel. TAP Portugal airline customers chat with AI bot Sofia for customer service questions. Skyscanner helps Facebook users search for cheap flights with a Facebook Messenger bot. Hello Hipmunk is a free virtual travel agent that combines email, calendar and chat features to give users a holistic experience, complete with hotel and flight recommendations.

From desktop to mobile

While the shift may feel more subtle, the incursion of mobile devices into billions of pockets and purses is bringing about another change to travel preferences. Over half of travelers compare hotel prices and availability on mobile. But the use of mobile doesn't end there.

Nearly a quarter of consumers use mobile to research reviews and directions once they arrive. Maybe most importantly, more than 4 in 5 Millennials indicated they want travel brands to track their habits to improve customization.

Mobile devices give business and customers a unique opportunity to increase value while traveling anywhere in the world.

Imagining the future of travel industry solutions

The on-demand and gig economies regularly merge in travel. Brands like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, are synonymous with these innovations that merge travel and technology. Consider Uber’s new “transit” feature available now within the app for Denver users, allowing trip planning that includes public transit options. A preference for on-demand services and personalization is likely to shape the next wave of innovation in multi-modal travel solutions.

With the right technology in your business toolkit, your company can integrate what you need to deliver a next-generation customer experience. Every part of the travel industry supply chain can take advantage. From AI-driven marketing for transportation to personalized travel itineraries and experiences at the destination, omnichannel marketing that reaches the right user at the right time offers a big win-win for businesses and customers alike.

To read more about our program to transform the consumer travel experience, check out this short case study of our experience with a leading global cruise line. Have questions or want to chat about your technology roadmap? Drop me a note at commercialbusiness@conduent.com.

 

About the Author

Sumesh Chawla is Vice President and General Manager, Retail, Travel & Logistics (RTL) and Manufacturing

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