Even after years of web based travel and booking sites, the travel industry continues to see technology as key to their continued success. From large travel agencies to hotel chains to whole countries and destinations, web and mobile applications and systems are being developed to help further drive travel around the globe.
U.S companies could learn a bit from European and Asian firms whose customers have rapidly grown usage of mobile access to travel websites and applications. With mobile data deployments in some countries growing faster than in the U.S. it is not just a trend, it is the best way to engage both potential and existing customers with services and information.
Unlike some industries where social media may or may not be helpful in customer engagement, for travel it is an essential part of the equation.
As Dr. Madanmohan Rao stated, in a preview of his conference presentation for APTHAT in November concerning what he refers to as “tweet tourism”, “The convergence between mobile media and social media — thanks to mobile Internet — is changing the way tourists and the tourism industry are accessing, publishing and sharing information and connections.”
The Amadeus Group, a provider of technology products and services to the travel and hospitality industry, recently issued a report on the key role that tech will play in serving the next generation of travelers. Although older people are no strangers to technology and web travel booking services, the next generation of travelers will likely be spending more time using mobile devices, cloud based services and will be including out of habit social media for everything from advice, to reviews, as well as to deal with customer service issues.
Based on interviews with “adventurous and exploration oriented travelers” between the ages of 18-30 across a number of countries, the report sites three key themes that emerged from these interviews. The first indicated that these travelers, and those that will follow, are digital natives and Internet experts when it comes to useful resources. Their expectation will be 24/7 access and will do most of their trip shopping online. They also expect that all of these resources will move seamlessly from smart phone to pad to PC.
The report also sited a shift in next gen travelers to be more “explorers” rather “tourists”. This will obviously require that they have tools available that make their exploration of the destinations they choose to be device and application centric. Add to that the fact that “social” has created a generation that where socializing is “second nature” and the desire to “share” their travel experience means both travel companies and destinations will need to accommodate this need to share the experience within multiple social platforms.
It’s a new world.
U.S. companies will need to stay ahead of the technology curve if they are to take advantage of both current and next generation travelers. Whether a small travel agency or a large airline, how well you develop mobile applications and web resources will define your success in the future.
The problem in many cases is the cost of developing these resources. For some U.S. companies, and companies across the Americas, seeking the lower cost skill and expertise of offshore development companies may be the solution for keeping up. These are the same companies bringing innovation and new product development to enterprises all over the globe at hourly rates that are just not possible in the U.S. Many of these firms have established U.S. based operations and utilize local and regionally based personnel to manage projects for U.S. customers.
Working with these types of development companies requires superior communication and project management skills and the U.S. based operations help to maintain the necessary interaction between customer and supplier, keeping projects on track and on budget. Their offshore counterparts provide technical and programming expertise that is more affordable than similar services from U.S. based development teams. The combination gives even small business assets they couldn’t afford otherwise and ensures that your projects have a higher return on your investment.
Any way you slice it, the travel and hospitality industry is on a tech binge and travelers are going to benefit. How your company fits into this new model may make the difference between success and failure.
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