Travel and Tourism industry contributes significantly to the growth and development of a country's economy. While the industry was severely hit by COVID-19, many actionable steps are being taken to revive it. The tourism industry has always been at the forefront of using technology to accelerate the experience for modern-day travellers, and technological upgradation is one of the key components of the proactive efforts being taken to rebuild and revive the sector. Many facilities such as automation, contactless services, virtual experience, and the provision of real-time information will accelerate the scope of tourism. These initiatives will also focus on improving the overall customer experience.
Let us look at some of the technological developments that are reshaping the travel industry and will have a substantial influence on business outcomes.
Contactless payments have emerged as the most convenient mode of transactions. Contactless payments not only enhance the customer experience but will also ensure a safe mode of transaction. Many travel and hospitality brands have switched to the contactless mode of transactions to ensure safety for their employees as well as customers. Many hotels are employing QR codes that can be scanned easily with mobile devices without engaging directly with hotel employees. Everything is now online, from check-ins to check-outs, menus to in-stay services, and upsells to cross-sells. This digital concierge is fostering a smooth, contactless experience.
Augmented reality and virtual reality have taken the aviation industry by storm. Many companies are testing virtual reality as a part of their in-flight entertainment offerings. In a fiercely competitive market, these immersive experiences will help attract more customers. It is also being used for cabin crew training as it offers an interactive 3D e-learning experience with realistic visual and auditory scenarios, further leading to efficient customer service.
Biometric technology has the potential to make the purchasing process and interactions more seamless. It can be quite useful at hotels as it can allow guests to enter their rooms through thumb or facial scanning. Guests who want to charge items to their rooms would simply require a thumb scan rather than a signature and room number. This experience could be made even more seamless for customers if they could enter a hotel restaurant and leave, with the bill charged to the room through facial recognition.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is strongly connected to improving customer experience, wherein machine learning resolves customer queries quickly. AI technologies are now being used at airports to boost security and reduce wait times. One of the advanced AI technologies can help identify suspicious objects in footwear and save passengers the inconvenience during security checks. Customized content for in-flight entertainment and AI-powered airports where passengers can seamlessly walk-through security without putting down their bags for the check will soon become the norm in the future.
Robots, chatbots and automation
Robotics and voice technology are already creating disruptions in the travel industry. Voice-activated devices in the hotel rooms assist guests in checking traffic, restaurant recommendations, or getting weather updates. Some hotels already have AI robots helping guests check-in without the need for human interaction. Airports too have been experimenting with different types of robots, with self-driving baggage carts, cleaning robots, and robots equipped to answer questions from passengers regarding flight timings and boarding gates. Chatbots are always available to answer customers' queries on a 24x7 basis, regardless of staff availability. This is becoming more and more crucial to meet modern customer service standards.
All these emerging technologies are exciting for businesses. However, these technologies need to be integrated with the right data platforms and analytics capabilities to truly benefit the business as well as customers. For instance, face-recognition data may be used by hotels and airlines to determine whether a guest will return or if the AR/VR experience was enjoyed by them. This information can be used to enhance and improve service if necessary. These emerging tech trends in the travel and tourism industry will also give travellers the confidence and control to travel efficiently. The digital experience and efficiencies will ensure easier, safer, and more seamless travel and pave the way for the transformation of the tourism sector.