Technology has surrounded every industry in recent years with offerings of advancement, ease-of-use and durability for the future.
What’s next for hotel booking services and OTA’s (Online Travel Agents)? More importantly, what does the customer want from technology in the coming years and what influence and/or change does this incite?
Booking.com listed in their 2017 predictions that “Technology is fuelling a more demanding and impatient traveller” with “44% of travellers already expect[ing] to be able to plan their holiday in a few simple clicks”.
So, what technologies are out there to facilitate this ‘need’ and what can we expect from future adaptations? Are we about to see travel-savvy Siri’s becoming our travel companions advising us where to go and who to stay with? Or, super advanced search systems further detailing our every need?
There is an argument against this theory of technological inclusion or advancement. The humanised experience; travellers in 2016 were searching for more apartments and BnB’s than ever citing that the irreplaceable kind and friendly experience provided by a host was a key factor in accommodation selection.
So, although technology brought them to the host page it was the humanised aspect which determined their conversion. With this in mind, would travel sites see benefits from making their portals more personalised and socially capable? Or is the advancement in search technology the answer to the changing travel climate?
According to Statista, 3.6 billion will be using messaging apps by 2018. This key social tool will grow in importance and relevance to the travel industry, especially with customers yearning for profiled opinions as one of their key decision contributors.
Furthermore, will these two trends clash? Will we see a defining difference between competitors; some focusing advancement on technology and others on the humanised experience? Or, dare I say a palatable mix of both.
Already we have complicated user-experience technologies making their way into the public eye such as the creation of AI run Lola led by former Kayak co-founder Paul English. Which is, in essence, a self-service travel agent. Making technology personal, stepping away from condensed search results and focusing on the more traditional advisory of travel agents. This technology is bridging the gap between the fore mentioned. Although, it is still telling the customer what to do based on metrics and data. Agreeably more advanced, but the concept remains. With more travellers becoming influenced by social proofing is this the best path to take?
This begs the question, would the adoption of a simple social platform, messaging and viewable hotelier profiles not cover all bases? Giving the traveller the option to choose from a variety of opinions and recommendations left by ‘real’ people, not just one produced by AI, something people may find hard to trust.
We’ve seen this idea utilised to great effect on sites such as Airbnb and Gomingo (yes, we are biased); personalised pages and content mixed into a simple interface. Could this system be taken a step further to include the personalisation of companies and organisations, not just the individual hotelier? Could huge all-in-one sites such as Expedia and Booking.com use this to combat new technologies such as Lola?
One thing for certain is that the travel, online hotelier and booking sites have room for change. With industry experts teaming together to create messaging bots and AI, will this influence change in the well-solidified market giants? Are we about to see a technology revolution for OTA’s and booking sites alike?
The Gomingo team want to hear about your views and predictions? What do you think travel’s new superpower will be?