The Hotel Industry and the Future of Travel

The travel industry has experienced some significant shake-ups during the last two decades. Consumers can now book entire trips from their phone, price compare with ease, and decide whether or not to visit a hotel based on the opinions of someone several continents away. Should we expect the travel industry to continue changing as rapidly in the upcoming decade? Expert opinions suggest that we should expect potentially greater change in the next decade as new technologies hit the travel industry.

A study by leading consulting company Deloitte expounded the different ways that new technologies could affect holiday planners. Deloitte posits that digital assistants, crowd-based power, and augmented reality will play an increasing role in travel consumers' evaluation and selection of travel-based services. How will each of these channels change the way that hotels do business?

1. Digital assistants. "Siri, take me on an architectural tour of Rome!" While not currently possible, experts in a recent Skyscanner study suggested that this could be possibe in the next 10 years (Skyscanner, 2014). With digital assistants playinig an increasing role in our day-to-day lives, it's only a matter of time until they are able to offer detailed, personalized travel-based guidance. From helping to book a trip to serving as a guide on the trip itself, digital assistants could change the way that users vacation.

2. Crowd-based power. Also called crowdsourcing, it leverages the thoughts and actions of large groups of people to achieve certain goals. Online review sites represent an early version of this type of information collection. However, innovation will not only stop there: curating and collecting data can be used in a number of different business applications. For example, TripExpert aims to curate and aggregate expert-written reviews in order to provide an aggregate score to prospective clients. Another startup, Outbound, allows for travelers to connect with other nearby travels who may share their interests and be nearby. By staying informed about these emerging crowd-based platforms and ensuring that they are tailoring their content and marketing strategy to cater to users of these platforms, travel industry staff can ensure that they are putting their best foot forward.

3. Virtual reality. Imagine putting on a pair of glasses and being able to experience 8 different hotel rooms, all from the comfort of your own home. As virtual reality becomes more widespread, this could happen sooner than you think. Several hotels are already testing out virtual reality as another acquisition strategy for potential customers: Best Western is already leveraging this channel as part of its innovative marketing campaign (https://skift.com/2016/05/23/best-western-goes-all-in-on-its-virtual-reality-marketing-move/). Small and medium-size hotel chains could particularly stand to gain from this marketing strategy. Customers unfamiliar with a brand could rest assured about the level of amenities and services that is offered by "experiencing" the hotel premises from the comfort of their own home.

What does this mean for your hotel or business? Make sure that you are innovating! These new market trends are coming, and the businesses that best leverage these channels stand the most to gain from their use.

Sources:
Deloitte, 2015: Travel Consumer 2015: Engaging the empowered holidaymaker. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/consumer-business/deloitte-uk-travel-consumer-2015.pdf .
Skyscanner, 2014: The Future of Travel. http://www.skyscanner2024.com/index.php

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