We are well into the disruption process of the travel industry. The past two decades have seen monumental shifts in consumer behavior when interacting with the travel and hospitality industry touchpoints. Today, the average consumer is much more informed in their decision-making process and empowered to make travel choices that work for them due to the ever-changing nature of the internet.
We tracked three major consumer technology trends in the travel industry, of which you should be aware. All three of these trends have been making their mark on the industry for the better part of the last decade and show no signs in slowing down.
Who could have imagined the evolution of smartphones from the days of the ubiquitous Nokias and flip phones? Consumers are rarely without their mobile devices, and these tools are being used more often in their transactions with the travel industry.
According to Think with Google, nearly 25% of travel planning starts on mobile devices. Criteo, a programmatic advertising company, has noted that these initial searches result in a third of all travel bookings coming from mobile, including everything from hotels to flights to ground transportation.
But it’s not just planning and booking trips; consumers will take their mobile devices along on their travels, often checking GPS apps, restaurant reviews, and pulling up their boarding passes in air carrier apps. It should come as no surprise that travel giant TripAdvisor attributes nearly 45% of their web traffic to mobile.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Travel and hospitality businesses have taken note and those mobile devices are also being put to use to engage with the Internet of Things. Consistent consumer connectivity means brands can engage with their customers (or convert potential customers) nearly round-the-clock and enforce a seamless user journey from search to check-in.
Hotel chains are taking advantage by allowing customers to check-in on mobile and tap their phones near door-handles to enter their rooms. Airports have enabled location services at gates to allow fliers to track how close they are to their destination and whether they should start running to make their flights. Moreover, a cottage industry has sprung up around IoT, with a prominent example of inexpensive tech being RFID tags that help consumers track their luggage from anywhere.
All of these consumer interactions create log-level data. Every time a consumer interacts with a travel app or website, information is created around geolocation, time, device ID, search query, and other such things that fuel the ominous Big Data industry.
The reality is far less nefarious. Companies use this anonymized data to inform their marketing campaigns and improve efficiency in their operations. For example, online advertising companies like Criteo or MiQ can analyze data trends related to this data. That means everything from a consumer’s region, demographics, and search on travel sites can help companies across the travel sector manage their advertising spending. Or even focus on the promotion of hotels, flights, or specific destinations that they may not have been aware of otherwise.