Technology has grown substantially in the last few years, and it will no doubt continue to do so. It provides a platform for creativity, and many different global industries have seen extreme benefits from this. Within the travel industry, technology has provided a great many benefits and opportunities, and 2016 is set to continue this trend. It affects both supply and demand for the industry, providing new and innovative solutions that can both enhance efficiency and help companies to really drive that top-line revenue.
One area that has seen particular growth over the last year is the development of alternative lodging platforms. Services such as Airbnb and HomeAway have been around for quite some time, but 2015 saw them really begin to expand within the market. In terms of business opportunities, these ventures have been extremely innovative. However, they have been much less so when it comes to technical implementation. Coming into 2016, this seems set to change.
In the early days, online bookings didn’t use sophisticated technology. They were made via email, with confirmations then faxed to customers. Like other major travel providers, these smaller up-and-coming ventures are now moving on to much more streamlined processes. This should therefore expand their distribution capabilities in 2016, and allow them to grow and offer a much wider service to customers. The majority of medium and large businesses have found it necessary to implement some form of sales force automation (SFA). The most widely adopted of these is probably Salesforce, although there are many different platforms on the market which are suited to different needs.
Salesforce reports that a massive 90 per cent of the world’s data was created within the last 12 months, a sign that adoption was heavy in 2015. Travel departments, along with SFA solutions, now plan to work together in order to create the capability to optimise travel spend for businesses. With innovative ideas, the opportunities for this market could effectively be endless. One such opportunity includes a much more streamlined process for planning corporate trips. As of yet, the majority of businesses tend to arrange corporate travel independently. However, by integrating the SFA system with the travel system, the intuitive programmes could suggest further businesses opportunities in a specific area, potentially saving both time and money, and also creating additional business opportunities.
These days however, it isn’t all about the processes and procedures when it comes to booking travel. Customers want even more from their experience. They want a genuine relationship with the company they are booking with. However, many businesses are still unsure how best to achieve this. This is expected to be a key focus moving into 2016. It’s more than just sending out confirmations to customers. They want additional information. As businesses begin to incorporate content marketing more thoroughly, they will garner the capabilities to offer much broader services to customers, and therefore forge much more sustainable relationships.
In order to achieve this though, businesses need to be innovative with their uses of technology. By delivering the same service as other businesses, you will get lost in an extremely saturated market. The capabilities of technology to deliver new levels of service and customer interaction could take businesses to new heights with innovation and creativity. Customers want the right information at the right times, and by utilising the technological advancements out there, travel providers will have the opportunity to really stand out from the crowd.
Some things can’t unfortunately be solved by technology; however, the experience that they provide can be. Trips abroad are often disrupted by flight delays or cancellations. In fact, 28 per cent of all US flights were delayed within the last year. Understandably, this is extremely frustrating for customers, but the situation can become much more efficient if technology is used. Programmes are being developed that will be able to factor in the weather, air traffic and global events to predict any potential delays. Ultimately, providers will not only potentially be able to predict any disruptions, they will be able to try to overcome these in advance and also notify passengers as soon as the information becomes available.
Obviously, technology cannot make any business perfect. However, the opportunities that will be on offer not only in 2016 but over the next five years will give businesses the opportunity to transform. Those organisations who are innovative and flexible to change will inevitably see great success by using technology to really get the level of service, operation and efficiency that all travellers seek.