Whether it’s about navigating through your own city using Google Maps, or finding a home stay in an offbeat vacation destination, it is impossible to imagine travelling today without the support of new technologies. With the advancement of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), travel companies are now being able to deliver customised recommendations, prices and itineraries to users, thus offering them a personalised and flexible travel experience. Just as new technological developments are a blessing for travellers, they are a boon for businesses in the travel sector as well.
Greater reliance on technology to optimise processes
Entrepreneurs in the travel industry must keep a vigilant eye on technology to identify and adopt newer and more evolved ways to run their businesses. There are various ways in which new technology has moved this sector towards efficiency and ease-of-use. If one were to make a list, it would reveal that for nearly all aspects of the business, travel entrepreneurs greatly depend on relatively new technologies that have only emerged within the last five years or so. Even if certain technologies have existed for slightly longer, it is the recent improvements that make them all the more useful to businesses today.
For instance, customer relationship managers (CRMs) enable organisations to retain and nurture existing customers while effectively targeting new customers. This, in turn, helps them to build an efficient customer lifecycle. Moreover, a big part of marketing now revolves around social media strategies, and with targeting becoming more and more effective, the results are astounding.
Delivering personalised experiences is the key
According to insights found by Google based on data from the search engine, travellers book hotels and flights around 3 months in advance. Additionally, within these three months before their date of travel, their searches increase further, specifically for ‘experiences’. By implementing technology based on AI and ML algorithms such as chatbots, travel platforms are able to reach out to specific categories of travellers based on their individual interests with messaging that is specially designed for them.
Thus, companies are able to exhibit the particular facet of booking options that will most appeal to customers. Thanks to such channels, establishing an instant connection with potential customers across the web has become a possibility.
Integrating channels and creating additional revenue streams
To effectively tap into the latest trends and innovations, travel companies can use application program interfaces (APIs) to leverage existing established players by using their technology and pushing sales strategies accordingly. Channel managers are also a boon, as they connect most of the major online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Booking.com, MakeMyTrip and others. This significantly reduces the manual burden and helps facilitate better inventory and price management.
Technology can also be leveraged to push or promote new/spin-off revenue streams by offering additional services and up-selling them. A great example of this is Airbnb’s new ‘Experiences’ offering, which are specially curated activities and experiences that are led and curated by locals of the area in which users have chosen to book their accommodation. Travel platforms are also using various rewards and loyalty programmes supported by technology. These help to deliver important insights, thus helping companies to enhance the overall customer experience, leading to better customer retention.
Technological innovation has made entrepreneurial life in the travel sector easier and more efficient in several significant ways. However, even with the rapid penetration of technology in this increasingly competitive environment, travel, especially in the home stay segments, remain centred on the human connection – the personal touch. Technology definitely takes things to another level, but it is the heart and soul in the business that matters most in the long run.
(Views expressed in this article are of Amit Damani, Co-founder, Vista Rooms)