It’s hard to remember what it was like to book a flight or find an appropriate hotel before the Internet made it so doggone easy for travelers to look at flight schedules, prices, and pictures of hotel accommodations online.
But technology isn’t done transforming the global travel experience just yet. In fact, technology, social media, and mobile apps are making nearly every aspect of travel easier to manage than ever before.
More Mobile Apps on the Runway
Travelers will continue to look for ways to leverage mobile apps to accomplish travel-related tasks. Mobile apps offer travelers quick and relatively accurate access to real-time travel-related information on flights, hotels, nearby restaurants, reviews, travel tips, and local transportation options.
Many travelers are already using their mobile devices to check in and out of hotels or to pay at restaurants and coffee shops. At some hotel properties, mobile devices can be used to lock or unlock room doors.
The Somewhat-Secret Sell Side
Meanwhile companies operating in the travel and hospitality industries are looking for ways to use travelers’ mobile devices as direct sales and customer service channels. The same mobile travel apps and tools that are so useful for travelers simultaneously collect vast amounts of traveler-generated data.
APIs give companies quick and organized access to all that data. Companies in the travel and hospitality industries hope to leverage all that traveler-generated data as they try to offer experiences that are more and more localized, personalized, and customized regardless of where the traveler is visiting in the world.
Even though consumers still remain leery towards micro-targeted ads based on personal information that has been collected with or without their knowledge or explicit permission, there is growing evidence that travelers respond to localized apps and customized marketing messaging.
Social Media Bonanza
They say bad word of mouth travels quicker and farther than good word of mouth. But either way the chatter on social media has become a critical means to promote tourism and for businesses to try to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Digital-based peer-to-peer travel companies like Airbnb and HomeAway should continue to reap the rewards of travelers’ increased reliance on technology and social connections to guide their travel experiences.
TripAdvisor has become a go-to for many travelers researching their vacation destinations. Although a hotel or restaurant might have a reputation that precedes the business, on social media a company’s reputation is always debatable and perceptions can evolve or be updated.
Hotels as Mobile Global Offices
The cloud and Internet technology have enabled greater flexibility for many people to get work done while they are away from the office. Hotels in particular have become more viable as mobile offices. But even in the digital age of video conferences, business travel is still alive — sometimes people need to meet in person to communicate properly and see eye to eye.
Michael McLellan covers the business of restaurants, hospitality, marketing, media, technology, and more for D&B and Hoover’s. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Radio-Television-Film program. Follow him on Twitter.