Top travel technology trends so far in 2014 – and how to implement themNews / TechnologyBy Viewpoints | June 17, 2014Share This article was originally published on Travel companies today have incredible resources at hand, perhaps more than at any other time in the history of the industry.Furthermore, innovation in travel technology has empowered companies to connect with consumers in ground-breaking ways.NB: This article is written by Mary Russell, a copywriter at PhoCusWright.We’ve used a recent PhoCusWright report, Travel Innovation and Technology Trends: 2014 and Beyond, to enumerate the most important trends – as well as a few items to add to your to do list in order to implement them.Trend One - Video: Essential to customer engagementDigital and video technology enables travel companies to interact with customers at every link in the travel value chain.Not only is video an excellent tool for creating content marketing, how-to guides and destination information, but it can also help track ROI.To Do: Use video to take advantage of multiple distribution channels.Engage customers with relevant video content at every stage of the trip.Tailor your video strategy to business goals, target audience, intended content, means of promotion and ROI measurements.Trend Two - Search: Just getting startedSearch engine optimization (SEO) is no longer the beating heart of online marketing: Google now uses algorithms to influence results based on site design rather than keywords.To stay ahead of the pack, travel company sites must feature engaging, user-friendly design – regardless of device – and first-rate, easily navigable content.To Do: Optimize your site for mobile.Be ready to handle queries phrased as questions – not just keyword queries.Link with Google+ and accumulate Google+1s. The more +1s, the higher your company’s rank in search results.Trend Three - Taking aim at the travel experienceThanks to social media, customers have a powerful voice in the marketplace.The sudden awareness that "little" things could make or break a trip – or a brand – jolted travel companies into broadening their focus from revenue generation to the overall travel experience.Now, travel companies are working to eliminate the minor but myriad hassles that leave travelers stressed and unhappy.Airlines are making check-in simpler and informing passengers promptly about service issues. Hoteliers are investing in automated check-in, luggage storage and mobile room entry.The result? A more convenient and pleasurable travel experience.To Do: Look beyond the product or service you traditionally provide and find innovative ways to support other parts of the travel experience.Explore new technologies – if you can’t afford them, consider partnerships – to offer a broader spectrum of content and services.Ensure that staff, training, websites and touchpoints provide a uniform message and stellar service that both responds to and anticipates travelers’ needs.Trend Four - Can’t get enough mobileBy 2015, for example in the US, mobile bookings will account for 27% online travel revenue.Most web traffic will be generated by mobile devices, which means offering an efficient, user-friendly, high-performing mobile site or app is a must for customer engagement.To Do: Integrate your mobile strategy into your overall CEM strategy.Accommodate a variety of mobile devices.Create a mobile offering that supports customer needs and expectations.Trend Five - Hands free, ubiquitous and always-onWearable smart devices are gaining popularity, and speech and gesture interfaces will soon replace keyboards.Several travel companies have tried out responsive technology publicly so far: Virgin Airlines is using Google Glass for passenger check-in, flight updates, and language translation.A tourism board in Florida recently used Glass and social media together to execute a successful ad campaign.To Do: Work with customers to determine which interfaces are most comfortable.Ensure a seamless experience across devices.Experiment with interfaces in fun or off-the-wall ways – this technology is new to travelers, too, so give them an excuse to play with it.Trend Six - Big Data = Big ActionsTravel companies use big data to target their marketing based on trends in social media and consumer behavior.Marriott uses it to personalize its website, while British Airways uses predictive analytics (gleaned from big data) to customize offers and enable employees to recognize customers.Big data can also help detect fraud, measure ad campaign results, and provide actionable insights that help predict a shopper’s reaction to an offer. Two of the simplest (yet high-quality) tools available for sifting through data are Google Analytics and Coremetrics (IBM).To Do: Select a big data tool that fits your company’s needs. Identify the data most likely to produce actionable insights.Give customers meaningful and relevant information in real time.Focus on areas that will provide immediate ROI and long-term value.Trend Seven - Social marketing: The business embodiment of social mediaSocial media’s impact on conversion and purchasing is immense. Marketers can use it to publish outgoing communication, monitor activity, and extract relevant information, yielding valuable insights about consumers.Just as importantly, they can use it to listen to customer feedback.To Do: Include social media features in your website.Integrate social media with your other marketing approaches.Track and measure your success, whether via ROI or publicity.NB: This article is written by Mary Russell, a copywriter at PhoCusWright. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.NB2: More details with PhoCusWright’s Travel Innovation and Technology Trends: 2014 and Beyond.NB3: For more exciting and visionary travel innovations and technology, attend The Travel Innovation Summit@The PhoCusWright Conference (November 11-13, Los Angeles, USA). Register to attend (ticket prices increase June 30), or apply to demonstrate (early-bird fee expires June 20)!PhoCusWright is the travel industry research authority on how travelers, suppliers and intermediaries connect. Independent, rigorous and unbiased, PhoCusWright fosters smart strategic planning, tactical decision-making and organizational effectiveness.NB3: Travel technology and mobile beach 2014 image via Shutterstock.