Across the globe, there’s been accelerated adoption of technology across industries – transport, logistics, retail, manufacturing and food. However, travel and hospitality industry has historically depended on people to deliver customer experience. Even in the digital travel business, we expect that to change in the future. Also Read - Internet turns 25 in India: Here's how the next 25 years may look like
Technology innovation in the areas of internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) will have a direct impact on how consumers interact with brands. The travel sector will undergo a significant transformation as well, to deliver comfortable, convenient and delightful consumer experiences. Let’s delve deeper into some of the solutions that technology will provide to the travel industry in the future. Also Read - Apple acquires Virtual Reality startup NextVR
If you consider the time spent in a hotel lobby during check in and check out, things haven’t changed since time immemorial. Most of us have experienced the business of on-demand cabs. We book it through an app on our phones, we take the ride, and the driver drops us at our destination. Often this happens without a conversation. A hotel check-in and check-out will be somewhat similar. Customers would already know their room numbers and would be able to enter through biometric inputs or their phones. That defines a seamless experience. Also Read - National Technology Day 2020: Why is it celebrated on May 11 and technologies spearheading change in society
Chatbots and AI managed services
Another imminent development is that of conversational AI or chatbots. In future, chatbots could take over booking and reservation services for all your travel needs – flights, trains, hotels, meals and more. Also, voice is emerging as the preferred mode of communication, if the number of voice assistants launched over the last two years is anything to go by. It isn’t hard to imagine an AI-managed room service or a concierge that takes care of all your needs irrespective of the language that you speak.
Access to consumer data has empowered brands to create memorable experiences for consumers. It will not only help deliver a delightful first experience but will unlock the most valuable aspect of business – repeat usage. Personalized experiences go a long way in retention and acquisition of customers. Imagine, at a hotel, you enter your room (remember without having to stop at the reception to pick up keys) and find your favorite playlist playing, set the room-temperature to suit your preference, with a list of your favorite dishes to order from. Wouldn’t that be simply great?
Loyalty and membership program
With quite a few programs already existing in the segment, it has become imperative to build stickiness for yours. So, the new programs would have to evolve into something bigger than the core brand offering, keeping customer delight at the center. A membership program that offers horizontal benefits across verticals – hotels, flights, transport would win the bigger slice of loyal members.
For starters, implementation of VR is poised to revolutionize the booking experience by offering consumers an immersive experience. Imagine being able to have a look at the exact room that you are going to staying at or the seat that you are going to book in a flight or a bus.
It’s safe to say that the travel and hospitality industry is at the inflection point and will soon be transformed through implementation of innovative technologies that promise to enhance the travel experience of every traveler.
This author Kadam Jeet Jain, is co-founder of Treebo Hotels. Edited by BGR India staff.