Despite the difficulties that have permeated the tourism industry over the past year, it is possible to identify several digital trends that will represent the future in this sector and that, if correctly interpreted and supported by optimized technological processes, can lead to gaining a significant competitive advantage over the rest of the market. Many of the digital trends and evolutions we are witnessing are the result of the contingent situation linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this, as in other industries, the pandemic has led to an unprecedented boost in innovation.
Travel Industry, 5 digital trends: eCommerce
Specifically, the first observable trend is the constant growth of bookings through the digital channel. Suffice it to say that 2020 eCommerce in travel recorded a growth of +9% compared to 2019, reaching 15.5 billion euros. Digitization affects both the demand and supply side, reaching a relevance equal to the analogue sector. Considering that the tourism sector was one of the most backward and least digitized globally, this aspect represents a great opportunity for both technology providers and companies in the industry.
Travel Industry, 5 digital trends: the virtual experience
The second trend concerns the importance that digital is gaining during the travel experience. This has a twofold effect: on the supply side, there is strong growth in tools and technologies that can offer virtual travel experiences or that can offer digital support to the physical experience; the second effect, on the other hand, concerns the demand side, where the customer has reached a technological maturity such as to require adequate digital support in any travel experience. This is confirmed by the fact that 68% of Italian tourists look for travel information from mobile, rather than remotely; 42% of Italians consider it essential to share their travel experience through social networks; and 38% actively contribute, through content and comments on dedicated sites and social networks. This means that for operators in the sector, being present and offering services from mobile becomes a new and extremely effective way to reach potential customers.
Travel Industry, 5 digital trends: smart hotels
The third trend concerns the hotel industry, where investments in advanced digital solutions are becoming more and more frequent. Based on this trend, in recent years the first smart hotel was born, in which everything can be done via smartphone. The well-known chain Marriott International has signed an important partnership with Samsung and Legrand to create totally smart and digital rooms, equipped with the most advanced IoT systems to make the tourist experience unique. Similarly, Starwood has announced its goal to automate certain parts of the travel experience through the adoption of advanced technological tools. All of this will only improve and make more efficient the service offered to the end customer, as digitization becomes the main driver for acquiring information and data related to its customers and prospects. Companies that can use them can reap enormous benefits and learn how to respond better and better to the needs and expectations of demand.
Travel Industry, 5 digital trends: the centrality of data
About this last concept, the fourth tourism trend observed develops, namely that linked to the importance that data is also acquiring in this sector. The digitization of processes represents the viaticum for the acquisition of valuable information on consumers and the potential market. These data describe purchasing and consumption behaviour in great detail. If processed correctly, they can indicate market trends and changes. Monitoring the data and analyzing it, with the support of companies specialized in the sector that in recent years have offered the market sophisticated software based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to support tourism players in these delicate activities, becomes a strategic and business lever that is now essential in this area. The analysis of the available data allows one to know one’s clientele and retain them, to know the market and intercept it, to foresee the evolutions and be able to satisfy new demands and needs reactively. Data is therefore becoming central to guiding actions in this sector as well, and it is now clear that companies that can do so are positioning themselves well ahead of their competitors.
Travel Industry, 5 digital trends: predictive analytics
Finally, the latest growing digital trend is the use of advanced predictive systems based on historical data. So, once again, the centrality of data is confirmed, which in this case is used as the basis for feeding more or less sophisticated algorithms that aim to predict consumer behaviour based on their past purchase choices. Through this approach, it is possible to identify similar customer clusters based on several relevant variables, predict the behaviours of each cluster, and optimize pricing based on these factors. In addition, these predictions also make all marketing and communication investments that a company can make more effective because they allow commercial offers to be targeted, to increase conversion. Finally, the use of clustering and forecasting algorithms can also have a positive impact on the company’s margins, because, based on the information available, cross-selling and up-selling actions can be carried out, focused on each cluster, which derives from consolidated historical purchase data and can effectively contribute to the growth of margins.
At an overall level, the common thread that characterizes the new digital trends in the travel industry is the need to know one’s customers, to understand their needs and to anticipate developments. This can only be achieved through the support of technology and data. Therefore, it becomes essential to equip oneself with the tools and support of professionals who can help the company achieve these objectives in the short term and at the same time have a long-term data and customer-oriented vision.