How technology can play a vital role in bringing travellers back
October 30, 2020 7:07 AM
The revival of the travel industry depends on stakeholders’ ability to provide a secure experience in the current environment
By leveraging data and real-time insights on consumer demand, companies can pivot quickly to react to the rapidly shifting trends in this pandemic
By Ritu Mehrotra
Technology has always been a powerful instrument to accelerate progress for many industries and organisations, positively impacting lives across the globe. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, technology and innovation emerged as a vital tool yet again, whether for helping enhance safety measures or supporting business continuity and the overall stability of the economy by enabling remote working and contactless punch-ins at work. However, with travel as one of the most impacted industries, and one that revolves around in-person contact and experiences, how is technology already leading the path to recovery?
The revival of the travel industry depends on stakeholders’ ability to provide a secure experience in the current environment, right from transparency at the moment of booking through to in-stay safety and hygiene. Tools that enable accommodation owners to update the cleanliness and hygiene measures in place at their properties in real time, provides the much-needed transparency travellers need to make an informed decision.
Further to that, technology will also continue to play an important role in bringing the travel community closer, as people rely even more on first-hand experiences from other travellers to gauge where and when it’s right for them to travel again. Having said that, credibility of source and trust in the reviews and endorsements they read will be very significant in helping bridge the gap between expectations and reality, and technology plays a vital role here.
Frictionless travel experience
By leveraging data and real-time insights on consumer demand, companies can pivot quickly to react to the rapidly shifting trends in this pandemic. By helping interpret large amounts of data, companies can truly understand what travellers want now, and make it easier for customers to find the right kind of properties and experiences. For example, online travel partners can recommend private, whole home accommodations, and offer additional filter options that deliver results tied to what research shows travellers want at this time. This includes drive time or distance from their home, trip themes such as beach or nature, and cleanliness scores — all of which are on top of travellers’ minds at the moment.
Additionally, chatbots and virtual assistants are gaining prominence in the travel industry through the combined application of AI and ML. A good chatbot can quickly process a traveller’s request and instantly suggest the best course of action, while prioritising any urgent queries, to ensure they receive the highest level of support in a timely and efficient manner.
Leveraging technological innovations is at the heart of supporting travellers and accommodation owners in a pandemic-struck world. Data-led insights on traveller demands and expectations can equip properties to make appropriate arrangements to safely host travellers. Many travellers are currently looking for a steady WiFi connection and subsidised rates for longer stays in a particular destination. This insight helped many property owners host travellers looking for what we’re now calling a ‘workation’.
Cloud-based systems that deploy IoT can also be useful in managing back-end functions and streamlining day-to-day tasks for property owners — like contactless housekeeping, delegating duties to hotel employees and ensuring compliance of health and safety standards.
As we emerge from the pandemic and the world settles into a new reality, technology will be a strong catalyst in reviving the travel industry, while continuing to play an integral role in creating a seamless experience, perfectly tailored for every traveller.
The author is country manager – India, Sri Lanka & Maldives, Booking.com