Travel Industry Trends
Global online travel sales totaled an impressive $564 billion in 2016, and the market research company eMarketer has projected revenues to skyrocket to $755 billion by 2019, growing to an incredible $817 billion by 2020.
There are multitudes of travel options for consumers to choose from and the competition to provide excellent shopping experiences by the travel industry is fierce. It was not so long ago that families and business travelers worked through travel agents or contacted airlines, hotels or car rental companies directly in order to reserve and book their travel but the travel industry has evolved significantly over the last decade.Now with the click of a button, consumers are able to book their own travel using modern websites and mobile apps offered by the leading travel and hospitality companies having digitally transformed their businesses. Technological advancements have empowered travelers to research, plan and book travel arrangements independently, design their own itineraries, create bespoke packages, compare prices and take other travelers reviews into account when planning their vacations.
Today, the majority of travel transactions are completed through desktop websites, closely followed by apps and then by mobile websites. However, the growth and popularity of travel apps are rising the most and already proving to be one of the more popular categories in the Apple App Store representing almost 4% of all app categories and reaching approximately 95% of the Android users in the United States. Online Sales from these mobile channels are set to grow from $52 billion in 2015 to $95 billion by 2019 (source: Statista).
Current research suggests that travelers prefer researching travel destinations via their smartphones but are still making their purchases on desktops because it is more user-friendly and secure. Phocuswright for Bing’s ‘The Travel Marketer’s Guide’ reports that 40% of users conduct research using a mobile phone to find flights, hotels, and accommodations, compared to only 21% of shoppers that complete their transactions on mobile. Given this trend, those in the travel and hospitality sector must work to make the transition between their channels seamless, with effective mobile optimization, websites, and apps, that keep their customers engaged and prevent them from leaving to shop at a competitor.
Social Media Influence
There has been an enormous increase in the number of people sharing their travel experiences on social media platforms. It is no secret that millennials enjoy sharing images and comments on their travels and that it has become a large part of their identity creation, with many becoming influencers among friends, colleagues and their community, through sharing their experiences.
The dramatic growth of social media posts and reviews on holiday and travel activities have made the importance of a positive public image for travel hospitality destinations vital. Expedia’s ‘Millennial Traveler Report’ states that many customers base their choice of holiday destinations on their friends’ influence.
Having happy customers who post online is incredibly valuable to any business in travel and hospitality, making it one of the most important touch points in the customer journey. Satisfied customers become brand advocates through their posts, feedback and reviews on social media, magnifying every brand’s message and reputation significantly, as well as growing the customer base and awareness. Additionally, a positive presence on social media enables travel and hospitality companies to influence potential customers and get them interested in the complementary products and services they offer.
Analytics and Personalization
Vacationers look for unique experiences when booking their travels, and hospitality companies must personalize their shopping experiences accordingly. An adrenaline filled adventure, a holiday with friends or a romantic getaway should all have unique content that is personalized and relevant to the traveler in order to provide the ultimate shopping experience.
State of the art analytics and personalization tools enable travel and hospitality companies to provide personalized shopping experiences by serving up relevant content throughout the shopper’s journey. Theses tools measure and take into account customer searches, preferences, realtime site behavior, purchase history, and social habits when personalizing the content shown. When done effectively, sales and conversions improve dramatically.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): With the help of AI, travel, and hospitality companies are now able to analyze their customer’s unstructured data including pictures, social post, reviews, natural language, searches, and history. Now more than ever before, targeted, personalized content that is based on a deep understanding of what they are most interested in can be curated to capture the attention of their shoppers.
Internet of Things: IoT is driving the connected world of the future, and the travel and hospitality industries are going to reap the benefits of these new technologies. For example, in the future, hotel beds will be able to measure body temperature, mood, and hydration levels, linking with smart home technology climate controls to provide the ultimate in-room experiences.