The adoption of innovation and technology is crucial for any business and in case of travel and tourism, the innovations have not only changed the behavior of travellers but has compelled all the related stakeholders of tourism to adapt to these changing innovations.
By Dr Amit Gangotia (Sr. Assistant Professor, Central University of Jammu)
The dynamic world of tourism business has changed significantly with the advent of technology today. The demographics, motivations, way of travelling, skill sets required in tourism business have also been changing in the rapidly evolving tourismscape. The adoption of innovation and technology is crucial for any business and in case of travel and tourism, the innovations have not only changed the behaviour of travellers but has compelled all the related stakeholders of tourism to adapt to these changing innovations in order to stay in the business. Whatever tourism business you may be involved in, you need to understand the dynamics of this business and also need to swiftly and aptly adapt to the changing tourismscape.
Concepts like “bizcations”, where leisure and business travel is combined, have pre- existed but simultaneously concepts like digital nomads, blesiure etc. have evolved, where travellers either engage themselves in leisure activities or get perks in terms of tourism activities and technologically quipped travellers engage themselves in travel related activities. These are becoming popular in the contemporary scenario.
Today the traveller wants to experience every facet of the culture, belief and traditions of the place they are visiting. Simultaneously, technological adoption in tourism is taking centre stage like never before as it includes usage of smart phones, interactive robots, mixed reality, virtual reality, tailored artificial intelligence, augmented reality combined with real-world experiences and virtual elements, chatbots, location-based optimized information, SoLoMo tourism (the tourism trend where tourists communicate via Social network platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, RenRen etc. Moreover in this trend, tourists are likely to interact and search for information in the local area during their trip via the use of mobile devices), facial recognition technology etc. for getting better experience or for the personalisation of tourism experience by the business.
Today the customer is more demanding and expects better and unique services that not only matches their personal preferences and expectations, but also gives them a memorable and satisfactory experience ranging from accommodation, sightseeing to destination etc.
Tourism marketing has also changed dramatically in the past few years as per the preferences and changing demands of the travellers, whether it is providing the interactive and dynamic website designs, social media management and engagement, search engine optimization, usage of user generated contents and implementation for focussed marketing, targetted pay-per-click ads, engaging lead generation or content marketing strategies etc. Google has released an interactive infographic that identifies five stages of travel: dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. It’s important for online marketers to target their audience at each one of these stages to maximise their reach. Looking at the gravity and importance related to value preposition of the search business through mobile phones, Google might now eliminate your webpage from rankings in a mobile search (SERPs) if your webpage is not mobile-friendly.
The sharing economy is one of the fastest growing business trends in tourism history. It is an economic model defined as a peer-to-peer (P2P) based activity of acquiring, providing, or sharing access to goods and services that is often facilitated by a community-based on-line platform like Airbnb, Uber, Rome2rio, Couchsurfing, Homeexchange, SilverNest and GoGoGrandparent, that are shaping the future trends of tourism business. India is a leading example of the highest mobile-first online population in the world therefore it becomes a necessity for the tourism industry in the country to realise the importance of adoption and usage of the technology to its own advantage.
With the advent of new technologies and numerous options for the tourists, enhancing the customer experience has never been more vital; customer experience is what will make or break your business. Enhancing the experience can lead to the difference between creating a loyal and repeat customer which can exponentially enhance the business via word of mouth, and one who drops out at the booking stage. Everything on the web interface, where your clients start by booking their trips to the very last day of their journey, needs to be as enjoyable as possible.
Indian Tourism industry needs to realise and understand the changing tourismscapes and adapt with the changing dynamism of the tourism in space and time. This industry, which has just touched the 1% of the global market share, has a tremendous capability and promise to become one of the leading markets of the tourism world. This can only be realised with catering to the needs of the travellers and by adoption of the innovative technologies in the tourism world. It’s a must for the Indian Tourism industry to realise the changing demands and turn the digital India campaign to its advantage.