December 19, 2017, by Gilad Berenstein, CEO of Utrip
There is no denying the massive change that technology has brought to the travel sector. In every element, whether it is the booking process or the overall customer journey, technology is playing an incredibly important role.
The current technological landscape when it comes to travel possesses many different elements, and as such, can be a bit hard to distill since trends and usage tend to be very niche in each industry. In general, though, there is now a vast dependence on artificial intelligence, automation, data, mobile and a laser-focus on scaling operations to better integrate these different types of technology for a more seamless experience.
This has provided many benefits and an immense amount of value to both travelers and the travel companies. There is a level of convenience and personalization that could not have been accomplished almost a decade ago. We’ve seen a dramatic shift towards greater efficiency, ease of access to information and an overall focus on providing a more personalized experience.
However, this increased dependence on technology is a double-edged sword that companies must monitor in order to retain their competitive edge. Using technology is great, but travel companies need to be mindful so as to not "overuse" technology and lose the spark that humanizes the consumer experience. There are very human elements of travel that need to be nurtured and balanced with technology in order to see success.
For consumers, travel is still an extremely personal experience. Travelers are seeking authenticity and human connections, and travel continues to be one of the most real-life, human experiences that one can have. That means that travel companies must continue to treat it as such and balance that idea with their growing use of technology.
Essentially, travel providers must continue to innovate their services and offerings through these different technological advancements. This, however, should not mean that the human touch, local expertise and authentic experiences they possess must fall by the wayside. Travelers still derive real value from these elements, and it is important to continue to let that remain an integral part of the business.
The first step is for travel companies to do a deep evaluation of where they stand in the market and what their future growth looks like. Once that is established, how can innovative technology help accomplish their goals? Can there be an increase of technology that does not sacrifice the authentic/human touch? The answer is yes, but what that might look like is very much dependent on how the company executes on its vision.
The most successful companies within the travel industry will be those that are able to provide convenient and personalized technological experiences that are balanced with the authenticity and credibility that comes with the human touch.
Travel consumers are trusting you with a precious and personal experience of their life, and it is critical that they not feel like just another number. Today’s travelers value convenience, that much is certain, but they also value the knowledge that comes from local experts and authentic experiences.
Companies must craft strategies that allow them to provide technological efficiency while still humanizing their brand and services in order to retain customers in the long-term and build loyalty that will have a lasting impact. They should strive to find the right balance between technology and personalization—without losing that quintessential human touch.