To say the growth of tourism and travel industry has been exponential is an understatement. According to the International Travel Agency its estimates that the number of Air Travel passengers will be 7.2 billion in 2035. How has technology changed the landscape for the travel industry?

Digitalization has altered the way travellers plan a vacation. The Internet has created an online sphere with freely available information. Mobile devices have enabled users to search, plan and book trips with simplicity. With Social Media channels stealing every ounce of attention from consumers; travel marketers have to fiercely adapt. This digital revolution poses countless economic opportunities for both sides. 

 

Digitalization

Digitalization has created an online space that has phased out long winded traditional methods of travelling. It is an ambiguous term with various meaning and interpretations. According to IGI Global, it can be defined as “ the technology of digitializing information. Digitized information is usually made up of binary digits that can be processed by computers. The computer decodes the information that is human readable”. In essence, giving us means for increased access to information that primarily disclosed in paper form. Paper that has been used for laws, printing money and books. Society has been forced to adapt to this ever changing digital landscape. Computers now allow us to use digital currencies as a means of payment, read ebooks on our devices and gradually phasing out printed media.

Travel Agents – World Economic Forum 

The Travel and Tourism Industry is valued at an estimated $8.2 billion accounting for 10% of the global GDP. It is one of the largest sectors in the world. Digitalization has created an online space that has phased out long winded traditional methods of travelling. OTAs. The number of passengers in 2035 surpasses the current population of the world. 

 

The Social Impact of Digitalization on Communication

Digital technologies has revolutionized the way humans socially interact. J.Scott Brennen, a postdoctoral researcher in Communication, and Daniel Kreiss, Associate Professor, both attending the School of Media at University of North Carolina elaborately described this phenomena. They referred to “digitalization as the way in which many domains of social life are restructured around digital communication and media infrastructures”. Social Interaction is now more easy and faster than ever. You had to send a letter to someone, wait for a response which could take days. There was always the risk that the letter could get lost in delivery. Now, instant messaging just by having an internet connection. Regardless of the location of the person you are trying to contact anywhere around the world.

 

The SmartPhone  – World Impact

A 2015 news report from the International Telecommunication Union(ITU)over “globally,3.2 billion users are using the Internet” with more than 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. That is more than half the population online. This exponential growth is due to the rise in Internet affordability. The ITU states that broadband is now affordable in 111 countries with the cost of a basic or fixed mobile broadband plan costing less than 5% of the Gross National Income per capita.

 

Travel User Experience

Mobile devices have enabled users to search, plan and book trips with simplicity. 

When it comes to booking a trip the user of smaller screen devices is increasing. According to research by Google in 2016 “ smartphones are travel guides. More than half of smartphone users turn to their devices in I-want-to-go moments. Most often seeking out discounts and researching activities to do before and during their trip”. Search Engines with their sophisticated algorithms attempt to connect people to travel booking websites. Mobile devices are quick and easy research instruments in the tip of our hands. Consequently, simplicity in web site navigation must be prioritized by travel marketers. Value for money is the single most important factor a consumer looks for in booking.

A 2017 Travel Study by Google states that “over one third of smartphone users have a negative of a brand if the experience is slow”. There is a constant desire for efficiency through speed. A poorly designed website only causes a headache for the customer. They feel that they are being robbed of valuable time that could otherwise be used elsewhere. The limitless space of the Internet combined with a ruthless competitive business environment means that online travel agencies suffer if their customer experience is negative.

But how can OTA’s overdeliver on their promises and provide a meticulous service to their customers? In tomorrow’s blog you will learn how the phasing out of analogue technologies has improved travel agencies for the better.

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