With the introduction of smartphones, the travel industry has changed to accommodate travelers savvy in technological advances. 2019 is a year busting at the seams with uncharted digital travel trends. As more of the world’s population finds time to travel, digital travel trends are allowing unprecedented variety in the ways people choose to travel.
From hotel management to automation features, tourism has been reimagined to fit mobile and diverse vacationers. Yet, these new digital travel trends impact industries beyond tourism as more vacationers find themselves shopping or connecting with brands in new ways throughout their travels. These are the 2019 digital travel trends your business should be aware of to keep pace with the latest in digitalization and marketing strategies.
Online and Traditional Travel Agencies
Travelers aren’t just going more places. They are also expanding their options to trip planning resources. Traditional travel agencies rely on human interaction as interested travelers call, visit websites, or stop by in person to browse through pre-arranged travel packages. Several of these customers might ask for a travel agent to build a trip customized to preferences and budget.
Companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial were some of the first companies back in 2007 to mass market travel packages at cheaper rates to customers willing to travel during pre-selected dates and under predefined travel terms. Since then, not only have traditional travel agencies had to build a trustworthy and modern online presence to compete, but also new businesses such as TripAdvisor and Expedia have emerged to give travelers the power to broadcast their own travel recommendations.
Even bloggers and entrepreneurial social media influencers have constructed business models around creating customized travel packages for vacationers who have little interest in sorting through the abundance of travel options and the hassle of making bookings.
According to a study conducted by Signature Travel Network and The Center for Generational Kinetics, out of 1000 American travelers, 66% of participants said they would still pay to use a travel agent’s services but that cost was the biggest deterrent. As a result, many travelers rely on the recommendation and advice of others found within the online travel forums of TripAdvisor and Expedia. This trend showcases the gaining influence digital travel resources have in influencing vacationers.
The year’s digital travel trends don’t just stop at the departure. More tourists are utilizing QR code technology to save digital boarding passes and booking information on mobile apps, cutting the need to print boarding passes or stand in line to check-in.
One of the newest digital travel trends is the employment of recognition technology. Some major airports, such as Taoyuan Airport in Taiwan, use recognition technology in their latest e-Gates for immigration purposes. Those with residency or passports can swipe their residency cards or passports, step into an automated stall, give a fingerprint, and take a picture before the gates open to allow the individual to continue to their gate of departure or to the baggage claim. The Taoyuan Airport also announced that the e-Gate would be granted use by Australian citizens. This process has freed up many of the lines for regular travelers needing to speak with an immigration officer.
On arrival, vacationers are opting into accommodations that boast digitalized features such as digital check-in and digital room keys that can be accessed from a smartphone. Some accommodations rely on facial or fingerprint recognition technology instead of the smartphone digitalization options for check-ins and room keys.
More accommodations are offering the Internet of Things (IoT), an extension of internet connectivity into everyday objects. For instance, a guest would be able to control the lights or air conditioning units in the room by use of their smartphones. Other hotels are using apps to allow their guests to book spas or order room service. The IoT and mobile app integration give guests greater access to remotely monitor and control their environments and their travel plans.
Hospitality and hotel management are transforming the ways in which they provide customer service to their guests. If the 2019 digital travel trends are any indication, soon recognition technology will also be able to provide payment authorization or other travel-related services.
Payments Via Mobile Phones
The rise of e-commerce has pushed many businesses to recognize a move towards cashless societies. eMarketer predicts that by 2021, over 79% of smartphone users in China will be scanning, swiping, and tapping at the point of sale. Already, 577 million Chinese consumers use mobile payment systems such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.
These mobile payments systems use QR code technology to link to a consumer’s preferred bank account. Already these Chinese tourists are using the technology while traveling to save on currency exchange or having to carry large amounts of foreign currency.
The Dubai Mall allows Chinese visitors to use Alipay for their purchases and some airports such as the Munich Airport accepts Alipay and WeChat Pay for vacationers to book tickets. Both Alipay and WeChat Pay support tax refunds in about 80 airports worldwide and 40 countries globally accept the use of Alipay and WeChat Pay throughout the country.
Personalization of Unique Experiences and Intrepid Journeys
It isn’t just the tools that are undergoing transitions; one of the digital travel trends this year modifies what it means to travel. More vacationers are looking for personalized and unique experiences that put them beyond the normal scope of tourist destinations. Even more adventurous, many young adults are opting for intrepid journeys or around-the-world travels that span larger amounts of vacation time. Whether coffee culture or organic farming is the traveler’s focal point, search engine capability connects more travelers and locals together to share their experiences and recommendations.
Social media platforms are developed for influencer marketing strategies. These allow individuals and businesses to promote their own content or that of a paid partner to their followers. The largest of these influencers are Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) and a subgroup of influencers, the wanghong, specific to the eastern world. Both influencer groups drive their audiences to new travel destinations, tourist products, and ways of exploring culture and businesses. They thrive on their audiences’ desire to have a trusted face on lifestyle experiences and products rather than take the word of a faceless company with marketing initiatives.
Yet, these new ways of traveling and connecting with the globe also applies to families and business professionals. One digital travel trend to emerge this year is the integration of co-working and co-living spaces that bring short-term and long-term travelers together as a community, regardless of location. While most travelers will not work on vacations, more individuals are switching to remote jobs that they can do while also traveling. This has given rise to the idea of ‘digital nomads.’ Whether in the bustle of city centre or down a sleepy beach street, more spaces are popping up to facilitate vacationers with a desire to work or live around others. These spaces often host events and promote through social media platforms or mobile phone apps.
Further, the emergence of digital technology has led to a reversal on the idea that families are unable to spend large amounts of time traveling. Family vacations during school break times seem to be a thing of the past. Technological advances grant families the power to choose nomadic family learning travels. Terms such as ‘unschooling’ and ‘edventure’ demonstrate the power that digital technology provides in allowing families to travel and still educate their children. Family gap years are becoming increasingly popular and many of these families document their experiences using social media platforms. New travel agencies are surfacing to support travel and learning journeys.
Test-Run a New Home with Homeware Hotels
Tourism businesses aren’t the only ones benefiting from this year’s digital travel trends. The homeware industry has taken advantage of the new ways people are traveling, living, and shopping. A number of homeware companies opened their doors to guests of brand new hotels that are fully stocked with the brands’ homewares.
MADE and Muji brands are among the first to unveil new hotel properties. Guests are able to test-run the home goods these brands sell during their stay in the hotel facility. They can then choose to purchase any of the items from chairs to plastic soap bottles.
2019 is a big year for digital travel trends. Not only are travelers changing how they plan their journeys, but also the ways in which they choose to travel. Businesses are making adjustments to accommodate cashless travelers and give them more control from their smartphones. Other industries are delving into the travel industry to allow vacationers more opportunities to try out new brands while abroad and harnessing the power of influencer marketing to connect with travelers in more authentic and trustworthy ways.
Having a digital presence is more important than ever before as well as diversifying the methods in which consumers can access a brand in an age with an abundance of information. The 2019 digital travel trends highlight the significance of digitalization and influencer marketing strategies worldwide. Tenba Group is ready to launch your brand’s success in digitalization and influencer marketing. Contact the team today to bring your business to the front!