Digital transformation has radically changed the way people travel and behave as tourists. Although the recent health crisis has not made it easy for the tourism industry to thrive, the trend towards digitisation continues to grow. Indeed, some digital trends in the travel sector have emerged and are worth analysing to understand the extent to which businesses need to adapt and transform.
Here are 8 major trends in the digitalisation of the tourism sector to remember
1. Digitalise the experience: Mobile First!
It's no secret that the travel experience is becoming increasingly digital. It is indeed now common to use digital tools to enhance the experience. The perfect example: the mobile phone. The constant companion for any good, connected tourist. Thanks to its many functions, travellers use it for telephoning as well as for surfing the various social networks and taking beautiful and memorable photos.
To give an idea, about 68% of tourists search for information via their mobile device instead of using a computer or tablet; for 42% of respondents, on the other hand, the smartphone is essential for sharing their experiences on social profiles; finally, 38% use it to leave comments and reviews on dedicated applications and sites (statista.com).
Mobile phones have a significant impact on the behaviour of tourists and on their choices, from booking a holiday to buying flights to paying for activities on site. Mobile first!
2. Hotels go digital
Tourists are more demanding than ever and their expectations are high. Hotels have to live up to this expectation and to do so they have increasingly sophisticated digital tools at their disposal. Many hotels have decided to invest in state-of-the-art digital solutions to make their guests' stay memorable. For some time now, smart hotels have also been on the market. What are these?
Smart hotels offer guests a unique and new experience. Guests can adjust the temperature of their room, open their door, pay for their stay, etc., all by simply swiping their finger on their smartphone. Recently, the renowned hotel brand Marriott even initiated a collaboration with Samsung and Legrand to design an intelligent room in its hotels. The guest will be able to take a Tai Chi class with an interactive mirror, personalise the cleaning service, order food and drink and even flush the toilet by voice command or through a special application.
This will allow hotels to further improve efficiency and learn directly from customer behaviour, which is proving to be valuable. As big data becomes increasingly relevant in the tourism industry, the digital transformation that some hotels are undergoing is enabling them to take full advantage of it.
3. The arrival of virtual reality in the tourism industry
Virtual reality is increasingly present in the tourism industry. Whether it's a destination or a hotel, guests can now take a quick look at a destination and get a taste of their next holiday. This option is particularly interesting for travellers who want to offer themselves a unique pre-experience before leaving for a distant destination.
The practice is set to become more and more widespread in the coming years. It will soon be possible to visit a destination, choose a plane seat and even examine rental cars, all thanks to virtual reality.
When visiting a city, there is a new activity that is becoming more and more successful: Indoor virtual reality. Whether it’s escape games or Laser Tags, the trend of gamification is growing very fast and is now almost a must during city-breaks.
4. Our friends the robots
Robotics is coming faster than you think in the tourism sector. It is a particularly important development that will probably take some time to get used to. In hotels, robots have been used as concierges, greeting guests on arrival and providing information.
In restaurants too, robots have a real role to play. Whether it's in room service, dishwashing in the kitchen (provided the robots are waterproof) and food preparation. In train stations and airports, they can also be used to smooth traffic and detect concealed weapons, while some manufacturers are using robotics to create suitcases that follow you intelligently.
In times of COVID the use of robots makes even more sense as they reduce human contact. Their use has indeed increased in 2020 and 2021.
5. Artificial intelligence and chatbots
AI-powered chatbots are an expensive but strategic investment in travel technology. Because they never stop, 24/7, they are able to provide customers with answers to their questions in real time and regardless of the time of the request. They are often used to answer common, closed questions, but thanks to advances in AI technology, chatbots are evolving and will soon be able to answer even the most complex queries.
The travel industry is beginning to harness a lot of data to improve the customer experience. It is clear that the more hotels or airlines know about their customers, the better services they can offer them.
6. Going TikTok
The trend of social media has been a hot topic for a while now but somehow its power is still underestimated by tourism and attraction providers. Well, you should stop ignoring it and start being where your guests are: TikTok. The Covid-booming social medial channel has become the most downloaded one in 2020 and 2021. It also has the most engaged audience with 14.5% vs 2.54% for Facebook. It is a real asset to help you reach a larger audience.
How does it work? Generating content on TikTok is quite easy with all the "templates", video ideas and challenges available to anyone. Additionally, partnering with influencers has never been more relevant than with TikTok. Unlike Instagram and FB, it’s not your number of followers that will determine your reach on TikTok but the quality of the content you post. Anyone’s content can then go viral just like that! Influencers usually represents a very low cost - you offer the entrance ticket to your park or attraction - and their content can reach up to millions of users.
7. Dynamic packages including ticket sales
Dynamic packages are a revolution in the online ticketing industry. Let's say you are organising an event in the city centre but with a wider reach, you can imagine adding to the sale of your events and activities for the entire public transport network in your region or country.
But dynamic packages are not just about tickets. Depending on your sector of activity, you can, for example, if you are a theatre or a concert hall, offer your customers to combine the purchase of their ticket with the purchase of a second performance or a snack for the intermission. If you are a museum, you can combine the entrance with an audio guide, for twice the fun.
8. Tailor-made all-inclusive pass
Whether you are a destination or a tourism office, you can imagine proposing an all-inclusive pass to your clients and visitors. It will allow them to have the best experience in your city just like the example of the city of Lausanne, the Olympic capital located in Switzerland, that innovated with an all-inclusive pass allowing access to different events and cultural venues as well as public transportation network with the help of a single QR code.
Lausanne Tourisme, the tourism organisation behind this City Pass, is one of the forerunners in this field. With the aim of increasing the attractiveness of the city to visitors, the City Pass offered by the Vaud tourist office has different options depending on the length of the stay or the interests of each visitor.
Take the plunge with Smeetz
Smeetz for Business is the #1 data-driven dynamic ticketing and pricing solution for attractions and cultural players. With Smeetz you can automate your pricing strategies, optimise your occupancy and sell across multiple channels. Smeetz also allows you to increase customer loyalty and sell your products simultaneously on all distribution platforms in your industry.
How do dynamic packages work with Smeetz?
Smeetz developed an improved and more flexible add-on functionality, which allows you to offer dynamic packages with different products or services that complement your activities
Nothing is more simple and intuitive than creating an add-on on your Smeetz account.
For example, thanks to the recent SBB x Smeetz integration in Switzerland, it is now possible to add to the sale of tickets and products, tickets for transport, ranging from national trains to regional buses.
With the help of our team, you can define routes for which you want to offer tickets. Our integration with SBB allows you to define a starting point and an ending point. Your customers can then choose from the routes you have prepared or you can include them in packages.
But the possibilities are wide and we are just at the very beginning. Soon, Smeetz will enter into new partnerships and enlarge its offer in dynamic packages.