What's the current state of the travel and tourism industry? It's a big question to ask and not always easy to come up with clear and coherent answers. However, we can see where the industry is heading and what we can expect to see more of in the years ahead by looking at the trends that are currently emerging in the industry. And there are certainly lots of interesting ones emerging right now.
Some trends are driven by customers and their desire for experiences different from what we've previously seen as commonplace. Others are driven by the tourism industry itself and its adoption of new technologies that improve their companies and the experiences their customers have. Read on now to find out more about the current trends in the travel and tourism industry.
Wearable devices are increasingly common in the travel industry today and are being used in a wide variety of ways. They are allowing companies to offer a more personalized and streamlined service, which is good for them, as well as suitable for companies looking to avoid wasted time and queuing.
One great example of how wearable devices are now being used in travel is at the Walt Disney Company. They've adopted RFID wristbands called MagicBands that allow customers to connect with the infrastructure inside Disney theme parks in various ways.
The Experience Economy
The experience economy is something that has been developing for years, but still, the trend continues to grow. People no longer want boring and conventional travel experiences as much as they used to. Instead, they would rather pay for vacations that are once in a lifetime opportunities that they'll remember forever.
These don't have to be tremendous experiences, but merely memorable or unique in some way. You only have to see how Airbnb now promotes its "Experiences" almost as much as its places to stay. You can find all kinds of adventures in just about any city in the world via their site.
Internet of Things in Hotels
The Internet of Things is growing in prominence in the industry right now. It's particularly essential in hotel rooms where there's now the option to control all sorts of things via an app. These smart rooms allow people to change the temperature or connect to the devices in the room very easily.
It's now even possible for flight passengers to locate their baggage via a link on their boarding passes. This innovative feature is something that's been introduced recently by Lufthansa, and it's something other airlines might look to adopt too. It offers passengers peace of mind because they'll know precisely where their bags are at all times.
Another trend that's already made its way into many hotel rooms around the world is voice activation. Voice activation is taking off in many sectors right now, not just in travel and tourism. More and more people are making Google searches via voice and using voice to text apps for work.
This rise in usage means they're used to using their voices to make stuff happen around them in their day to day life. In terms of how voice activation is happening in the travel and tourism industry, it's allowing people to turn on TVs and control other devices and appliances in their hotel rooms with their voice.
Recognition technology is making its way into many airports and travel hubs already. If you've been to a large, modern airport recently, you'll probably have used a face recognition system to make your way through passport control. It's possible to scan your face and match it to your passport.
There were some hiccups and inconsistencies with this technology when it first came to market but, those problems are now less bothersome to airports. They offer a safe and fast way to check a person's identity as they enter a country, and they'll only become more common.
Ah, AirSage's bread and butter! Location-based data allows companies and destination marketers the ability to gain better insights on how many people are using a space. It can be used at events to complement ticket sales for the number of people in attendance or simply in large public areas where data on the activities of visitors is useful.
Things like foot traffic, visitation data, and information on targeted points of interest can all be accessed with the use of location-based data. It's beneficial to commercial enterprises as well as public bodies that are dealing with the impact of increased levels of tourism in many cities.
AirSage offers Destination Marketers these insights in an easy to use self-service platform.
Understandably, more people than ever before are concerned about the environment and the impact their travel plans have on it. People care about the CO2 emissions they're causing and how they can travel in greener ways. That's why ecotourism is now such a big deal.
People are looking for ethical travel options, and this extends to all areas of the tourism industry. One small example of this is the increased demand for electric-powered car rentals. People's demands are changing, and travel companies now know that these concerns have to be taken into account.
An increased interest in train travel and public transportation is another example of how people's concern for the environmental impact of their travels. People want to get around in cleaner and greener ways, and long-distance train travel allows them to do precisely that.
Lots of people are interrailing across Europe and taking all kinds of long train journeys rather than flying. Of course, plenty of people are still flying to their next vacation destination, but train journeys are increasing in many parts of the world thanks to tourists and travelers.
Robots, Automation, and Artificial Intelligence
The idea of a robot serving you your drink in a hotel bar is no longer a sci-fi fantasy. Instead, it's a reality in some parts of the world. Robots can now also man check-in desks out of hours. Automation is also making the booking experience more straightforward than ever.
Chatbots are increasingly used by travel companies to answer customer questions and to offer tailored deals that meet customer needs. Smart chatbots are a big part of how many travel and tourism companies are adopting artificial intelligence and everything it can provide to the customer.
Experience Simulation with Virtual Reality
We've already talked about how people want to have unique and exciting experiences when they travel. However, it's also true that many people want to experience things without actually experiencing them. That's where the power of virtual reality comes into play.
People can experience simulations of all kinds of things via virtual reality, and it's something that's becoming a more common experience in travel hubs and destinations. VR can also be used to show a person a hotel room or part of a plane before they ever even pack their bags.
Local Cultural Experiences
These days, when people head to a location, they're less likely to want a simple and sanitized experience that's detached from the reality of the place they're visiting. In the social media age, authenticity is more important than ever, and it's what many tourists are now demanding.
That's why lots of people are now prioritizing local cultural experiences over the alternative ways of traveling. They want to see, feel, taste, and smell the local culture up close for themselves rather than staying in an exclusive gated area that was designed only for tourists.
Increasing Levels of Personalization
Everything is becoming more personalized these days because this tends to be the kind of experience people are wanting. Even the travel and tourism industry has not been unaffected by these changes. People want a travel experience that matches their ideas, priorities, and needs, and they expect travel companies to deliver that.
Customers are more likely to return to a location or use a travel company again if they found the experience they had last time was suitably tailored to their needs and personalized to them. Far fewer people want a generic, off the shelf travel experience these days.
Business and Leisure = Bleisure Travel
The travel industry at the higher end of the market is increasingly focusing on business clients. Many top companies are using travel and group vacations as ways of offering bonding experiences and building a team ethic. The practice of mixing business and leisure has become known as "bleisure" travel.
It's usually a more high-end form of travel and is taken advantage of by some of the biggest companies in the world. Therefore, it has to be tailored to the needs of business clients while offering the leisure aspect of the travel experience at the same time.
The travel and tourism industry is certainly changing and developing in a wide variety of ways. No one can predict the future, but the trends above are already starting to make an impact, and you can expect them to continue growing in prominence in the years ahead. On top of that, there'll no doubt be trends and tech that seemingly emerge from nowhere and take us by surprise.