The discussions revolving around the future of the travel industry are endless. Every article, podcast and webinar out there try to unravel the best strategies and trends companies must follow in order not to fall behind.
Yet while everyone is talking, the speed of innovation in the industry increases.
Those who understood what the evolution of travel required early on are now more than one step ahead of the competition.
But, not even the fastest ones can keep up with the demands.
The terms "personalization", "digital" and "experiences" have been exhaustively used for years now. Most recently, in addition to these three, we have also been showered with the word "mobile".
One has to ask, however: Why are we still highlighting the importance of these terms?
In today's world, clients expect travel companies to provide a certain level of service. Much like brick and mortars having to accept cards, being digital, mobile friendly, focusing on experiences and personalizing the interaction with the customers is a must in the current travel scenario.
Missing even one of these characteristics may put any industry player at a great disadvantage.
However, attributing these key points to services is not the equivalent of having the advantage. In fact, businesses that are in the process of perfecting their personalized treatment and mobile user experience still struggle to create loyalty.
Smart solutions on the rise to enhance the need for personalization
For some of the big brands in the industry, the concern relies on how to enhance the customer journey by perfecting their technology.
Among airlines, the need to add value to the passengers' experiences throughout all touchpoints of their journey, not only the in-flight stage, becomes more urgent with each passing year.
As expected, the best in class airlines are constantly seeking for a way to maintain their position.
Having embraced the digital necessity from a very early stage, these airlines have gained a strategic advantage which allows them to dedicate time into seeking for the next innovation.
Singapore Airlines, named the world’s number one airline by the annual World Airline Awards published by Skytrax, has created the Digital Innovation Blueprint, a program dedicated to pushing the company to the next digital level by conducting research on trending areas and creating smart solutions.
Delta is solving one of the most stressful issues for passengers: lost luggage. Passengers are able to track its luggage inside the airport through the Delta App.
Meanwhile, KLM is providing an incredible experience for passengers that don't need to stand in line anymore.
With a smart queuing system, the carrier allows passengers to digitally queue. Moreover, KLM has also been delivering an excellent ChatBot service with voice assistance.
Iberia has gone the extra mile with its APP by pairing up with us. Clients receive a personalized travel guide on the APP based on their destination, dates and language in order to make the most out of their trip.
But passengers don't fall for the myth of personalization as easily nowadays. When booking a ticket, the amount of information provided makes it obvious for them to expect airlines to use their name on emails and send newsletters with deals they might like.
The truth is that, as much as airlines try to show clients they know how to use their data well, the added value is still unnoticed.
But it is not only the airlines' segment that has companies running to stay ahead of the curve.
Hotels seizing the opportunity
There has been a lot of thinking among hospitality companies that also seek innovative ways to personalize the guest's experiences. Some, have already found interesting online solutions.
Virgin, for example, has created "The Know" program that allows guests to quickly answer a questionnaire in order to receive a more customized treatment.
And Iberostar Hotels & Resorts sends a link to its Trip Planning tool (also powered by us), along with its booking confirmation emails so guests can get a hold what will be happening at the destination during their travel dates.
Others are focusing on going beyond a simple desktop and mobile experience. While hotels across the world are still contemplating the idea of having smart rooms with voice control, Intercontinental Hotels is already there.
The 5-star hotel chain has already applied the smart concept to its hotels in China and plan to soon spread it to the other territories.
There is no better or worse direction to pursuit on the road to a complete digital transformation.
Solutions need to adapt to the needs of the customers of each sector. Carnival Cruises showed how cruise lines can also integrate different technologies and improve its services.
The company delivers a customized experience by alerting passengers about attractions of their interest that are happening, as well as their distance to the passenger's current location in the ship.
Despite the velocity some companies work on implementing new ideas, the industry works at a pace that it is impossible to keep up with.
Travelers' demands and standards increase and their ability to share their experience and review brands get stronger every day.
That is why being innovative and launching smart digital solutions do not guarantee customer loyalty, but it does help to gain a competitive advantage.
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