Technology

Travelport’s Scott Barber on how the next wave of tech will shape our industry

Scott Barber

For the past few years, the travel industry has experienced rapid changes at the hands of emerging technologies.

It’s go-to has been to emphasise the value and importance of human interaction for tourists and travellers around the world.

However, this is quickly changing as Australian travellers expect technology to work seamlessly alongside the human touch points to improve their travel experiences.

This is reinforced by Travelport’s recently released 2018 Global Digital Traveller Survey which highlighted the groundswell building around this digital shift as adoption rates of new technologies such as voice search, chatbots and hyper-personalisation soar.

The findings reveal key technology trends that are reshaping the travel industry and highlight the urgency for a shift in mindset among travel providers.

Seamless and consolidated mobile experience

While mobile is a crucial aspect of travel, travellers are looking for a more consolidated mobile experience.

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61 per cent of Australian respondents to the survey prefer seeing all their trip itinerary in one place and a third of them find it painful and frustrating when they can’t access all of their booking information on their devices.

Mobile has the potential to serve as a central platform that brings technology together, allowing for a consolidated and seamless experience for travellers.

Forward-thinking travel companies are thinking about how mobile can connect to every aspect of the travel experience.

Our adoption of mobile and consumers on-demand expectations has resulted in a generation of travellers that want a seamless mobile experience. Organisations need to focus on creating a consolidated app that brings together all the points of a traveller’s journey to create an integrated experience that makes travel easier and reduces stress.

The growth in adoption of new technology

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Despite voice search being a relatively new technology in Australia, it is emerging as an incredibly powerful interface for one simple reason: it makes everything easier.

Voice technology has been quickly adopted by travellers, with 33 per cent of Australian respondents using voice search to research travel and 17 per cent stating that voice search had the greatest influence for them when travelling.

With such significant growth in this area, we expect voice technology to become a key part of the consumer travel experience.

This new technology not only transforms how travellers communicate with brands but also how airlines and travel companies engage with consumers.

There has been an increase in airlines and travel brands using this technology with easyJet, Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner and Marriott International exploring voice search functionality.

Simplifying and enhancing the travel experience with technology

Consumers want technology to simplify their travel experience, from the initial booking through to the experience on the ground. Australians are embracing new technology solutions that create stress-free travel experiences.

AI is emerging as an incredibly important tool to facilitate personalised, instant and frictionless travel experience.

Air New Zealand, for example, is leveraging AI through its chatbot ‘Oscar’ and since launching the technology in 2017, Oscar can now assist with more than 450 topics, averaging 1,500 conversations per day and solving approximately 73 per cent of traveller enquiries.

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It’s not just the booking process that is seeing widespread change driven by new technology, the use of biometrics also has the potential to improve travel.

Sydney Airport and Qantas have announced a trial of facial recognition technology. The first stage of “couch-to-gate” biometrics could eventually mean that passengers will be able to go through most stages of the airport using only their face as a means of identification.

Soon, your face may become your passport and boarding pass, significantly cutting down queue times.

Taking our technology away with us

Travellers expect to be able to use the same apps abroad as they do at home, in fact Australians still use banking apps (48 per cent), maps (53 per cent), weather apps (45 per cent) and instant messaging (34 per cent) to keep informed and stay connected.

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With this, it’s unsurprising to hear that free hotel Wi-Fi is a must-have for Australians, 65 per cent of travellers would avoid hotels that charge for Wi-Fi.

Being able to access data and stay connected with family and friends through social channels is a key factor that modern travellers take into consideration when booking travel accommodation.

Consumer-driven change

The stage is set for emerging technologies such as voice, chatbots and AI to come together and enrich all stages of the traveller’s journey.

We expect these technologies to create a new type of travel experience driven by consumer demand and personalisation.

Travel providers will continue to see further technology innovations, and success will be driven by the ability to harness the benefits of these advances to create even more meaningful experiences for Australian travellers.

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