Authored by Viren Batra, Co-founder & CEO, Nirvana Excursions
Technology has been in a constant state of evolution and ever since it has stepped upon the path of digitalization, it has terraformed into a phenomenon with far reaching effects. Affecting almost every industry, the influence of technology was seen upon the travel sector too. The current trends in technological innovations are not just changing customer expectations but also their behaviour. In order to gain insight into how technology shall shape up the travel sector’s future, we need to access the impact it has in the present.
The rise of digital travel players
Around the turn of the century, the local travel agency was our go-to person for any travel plans. Most of the times, it was restricted to regional locations and the occasional visit abroad. This was quite feasible as the customer wasn’t into understanding the complex intricacies of the travel planning process of the day.
But then came the advent of the online travel sector. This, literally, changed everything. With their entry into the market, the structure and functioning of the market saw a jolting disturbance. But if you look closely, this change was waiting to happen when you consider a number of factors.
Internet user population – We have the world’s third largest number of internet users. So the need for travel options online wasn’t just a fad but rapidly developing need for the internet populace.
Simplification – With nearly all aspects of the travel plan going online, it meant handing over the planning reigns to the end user. Thus, bringing in the need for simplification of the booking and planning process to drive the user towards their service.
The second factor especially played a major role in the success of the online travel sector with the answer boiling down to one single aspect – Convenience. The sheer amount of services offered is mostly directed at making the process easier to execute in the least amount of time. But pulling off such operations on a large scale was only possible due to two crucial elements – Large Data Banks and Artificial Intelligence.
Big Data and Artificial Intelligent – the way ahead
If high speed internet was the defining factor in the disruption of the offline travel market, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence surely looks the next phase of the disruption in future.
In the initial phase until now, the online travel sector required human intelligence to perform tasks in the online travel operations. But the kind of evolution computation is seeing, we are gradually inching towards a new level of automation that would require little or no supervision. To enlighten better perceptions of these concepts, we need to briefly delve into them in detail.
Big data analytics, to sum it up, is a technology that collects and studies past events. This treasure trove of data gradually forms the foundation of the path that Artificial Intelligence (AI) walked on. What AI then does is basically take the concept a step further by using predictive analysis to anticipate and plan for future strategies.
The digital advertising industry has used cookies to display relevant ads since a long time. But now, AI is able to predict and pinpoint which ad space is most likely to generate better conversions. This acts as a smarter step towards the business of buying and selling ad spaces which makes targeting the end user more effectively.
Now that they’ve identified their targets, AI helps travel companies create highly-tailored offers based on customers’ needs and preferences. Past behaviour on the online portal, social media integration are few of the many medium in use to gauge the customer’s exact needs and preferences.
By doing so, the ultra-personalised offers that AI helps create aids greatly in increase conversion rates and improving the traveller’s shopping experience at the same time. Apart from the above mentioned aspects, AI and Big Data analysis also aids companies in key areas such as decision making, predictive maintenance and handling disruptions like weather conditions and other hindrances.
Fulfilling experiences of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are technologies that have recently picked up in popularity due to the immersive life-like audio-visual experience they offer. The key part that AR and VR play a massive role is in the planning process.
Planning the perfect trip involves acute considerations of choices available to make sure that every aspect of your travel is reserved ahead of time for the purpose of convenience. What AR and VR do here is make the planning process much more seamless, interactive, and simple.
By making it possible to add digital visual enhancements over an existing reality or real life scenario, these technologies solve a number of hindrances especially those involving international travel. For example, you cannot just compare prices but also compare the look of a room or location you are booking for via VR, translating written or spoken signs or conversations as you navigate around unknown places and a lot more. These technologies have basically handed the complete power of choice during a trip in the hands of the consumer, giving them enough options to carefully analyze and decide their course, all within the ease of their smart phone.