Until recently, travel planning and travel was the privilege of the elite few. The advent of digital age has just about transformed that altogether. With digital technology and mobile, the travel industry has reinvented itself. Internet proliferation across masses began a change that was so unprecedented and massive that even as we speak, the travel industry is being re-invented and its stakeholders are still getting a hang of it.
A few decades ago, nobody could have assumed how the travel industry would evolve to its current position. Travel was one segment that has not been extensively influenced or affected by turbulent economic or financial times. While for some travel was a necessity, for others it was leisure. Holidaying and big vacations were restricted to a certain class of people whereas minor celebrations and getaways to nearby places were the options for most others; blame it on costs and time availability.
The turn of the century brought about more options in the form of packaged tours that allowed people to travel to previously unvisited destinations. Internet proliferation across masses began a change that was so unprecedented and massive that even as we speak, the travel industry is being re-invented and its stakeholders are still getting a hang of it.
How did it all begin and how is it reinventing the global travel industry?
Between the late 90s and the beginning of the millennium, the internet enabled commercial transactions between airlines and customers. Payments could be done via the internet as both stakeholders saved on time and effort. While this provided better efficiency and productivity for the airline work force, it created convenience and comfort for the customer.
Desktops and OTAs:
The growth of personal computers supported with internet access is changing the way travel is viewed. Travel planning is made easier and research on destinations is providing quicker results. We also have online travel agencies (OTAs) that are abruptly changing the game. Equipped with easy-to-navigate interface, technological back-end processes, the OTAs are pulling all tricks out of the hat to create that wholesome experience for a traveller and provide tour management and airline reservation software convenience and comfort.
Social Media evolution:
Initially, social media was for social interaction and communication – to stay in touch, virtually. But soon business and individuals alike realized the importance of social media. Social media platforms have become promotion grounds for travel companies, airlines and hotels. It is a huge virtual world in itself that is constantly changing the way travel planning is done. While the suppliers (airlines, hotels, and comfort stays) and intermediaries (OTAs, travel, and tour operators) are pulling all strings to make their presence felt, the customers are sharing, communicating about their travel experiences and even providing recommendations on these platforms.
People are known to predominantly use PCs and laptops for work and personal requirements. The last 2 years, however, has seen a change – using mobile phones and tabletsfor personal requirements are the ‘’in-thing’’. People on-the-go are relying on their smartphones to browse, plan, and book tickets for their travel. This is the beginning of a significant shift; a shift that is makes travel planning easier and faster, a shift that is set to change the way airlines and hotels wish to engage their customers. Experts say, that we have just started on our ‘’mobile’’ journeys and it’s a long way ahead!
With the help of data analytics the amount of customer data availablein terms of preferences, habits, likes, dislikes and lifestyles, through social media and mobile applications is exceptional. Global travel in the time to come will be moving a level up as airlines and hotels are finding ways to use big data and create a customer experience based on theirpreferences and lifestyles. Though it might sound a bit stretched, some OTAs, airlines,and hotels are pushing boundaries of technology to implement measures to provide a more personalized experience to their customers. Travel planning and travel was exclusive to a certain sections of the society; the advent of digital age has just about transformed that notion. With digital technology and mobile, the travel industry has reinvented itself. It has become more open to all demographics andis set to expand at a faster pace courtesy theincreasing number of travellers and the incentives of convenience and low costs.