The travel industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Today’s traveler is discovering destinations via social media and feverishly documenting their trips by sharing photos and updates with friends, family and followers. People are increasingly booking travel with mobile devices and companies are scrambling to get ahead of the virtual reality wave. What will 2017 bring? We identified these four trends:
1. Virtual reality will go mainstream
What if customers could get a real-time preview of their travel experience without leaving their homes? With virtual reality, it’s a real possibility. Shangri-La Hotels says VR is a “revolutionary sales tool,” shaping customer decision-making by providing an immersive 360 discovery experience. Shangri-La isn’t alone, airlines like Lufthansa, Delta, and Qantas have all tested VR to showcase in-cabin experiences, network destinations and entertainment perks.
2. Hotels are embracing mobile apps and check-ins
Travelers want to make their bookings online, and they expect the same digital experience once they get to their destinations. Hotels are starting to integrate the mobile experience into their guest’s stays with mobile check-ins. Travel Market Report found that 65 percent of hotels (the majority were upscale-luxury) are enabling check-ins through mobile apps. Meanwhile, Robert Rauch, the CEO and President of RAR Hospitality and blogger behind hotelguru.com, is predicting airport-like kiosks in hotel lobbies for check-in, rather than the traditional front desk. Perhaps soon we’ll be saying goodbye to long check-in lines in the hotel lobby.
3. The artificial intelligence revolution is coming
Think it’s cool that you can voice-order products in seconds with Amazon Echo? Pretty soon, you might be able to book trips with the technology thanks to a partnership with Expedia. Currently, travelers can use Echo to check the status of Expedia flights and car rentals. Meanwhile, Intercontinental Hotels Group has developed AI technology to communicate with guests via Facebook Messenger and Hilton is testing Connie, a robot concierge powered by Wayblazer and IBM Watson to inform guests on local tourist attractions, dining recommendations and hotel features and amenities. Expect the AI space to expand greatly in 2017.
4. Booking experiences will get more organic
In 2017, the digital-booking experience will move towards being more full circle, where customers will be able to book every aspect of their trip in one place. Airbnb recently launched it’s Trip App, where hosts can offer services and experiences, and travelers can filter through activities like sushi-making classes in Tokyo or touring a film studio in Los Angeles. (The app is only available in 12 cities so far.) Meanwhile, hotels are starting to integrate geolocation technology in partnership with local restaurants, tourist companies, shopping centers or other local destinations. With hotel apps offering discounts and directions, geolocation services are sure to be a hit.
Digital marketing has transformed the travel industry and smart brands are relying on lifestyle content and fan photos to show off their amazing hotels and locales. Check out our free guide: Creativity on the Fly: The Rise of Lifestyle Content for Travel Brands to learn:
- The importance of visual content throughout every stage of the travel journey.
- How to engage travel consumers across nine key digital touchpoints.
- Actionable tips and tricks to help you monetize your content across channels.