Tourism is changing, whether it’s a pandemic-induced inclination to take domestic breaks or the rising awareness of eco-tourism.
Consumers are savvier and more aware of the impact of travelling on the environment, which has seen the emergence of new trends such as long-haul flights carbon offsetting or the demand for eco-friendly in-room products.
These are just a few of many changes shaping the tourism sector, which is ripe with opportunities for keen entrepreneurs, who by their very nature, must do everything in their power to keep abreast – and if possible, be ahead of emerging trends.
Despite the tragic nature of COVID-19, there were opportunities, and these will continue as the sector’s entrepreneurs think-up creative new solutions to health, safety, hygiene and environmental issues.
A key driving factor is technology, now a crucial part of the tourism and travel industry. Technology solutions help businesses with day-to-day operations, while also improving the customer experience.
For this reason, it is important that hotels, airlines, F&B outlets and other companies keep-up with the latest technology trends within the travel industry.
So, what are the trends, and the opportunities that flow from them?
Firstly, the need to be always connected. Travellers, whether for leisure or business, expect to be ‘always on’, whether it’s to keep in touch with the family at home, or send a vital email.
Beyond simple communications, there’s the exciting developments surrounding 5G and Elon Musk’s Starlink global satellite internet service, which will be a game-changer.
Connectivity, by extension, leads us to the Internet of Things, or IoT as it’s known. IoT brings smart devices together in a highly interconnected web, allowing one device to talk to – and control – another.
Hotel guests will benefit from using a smart device (even one they may own, like a phone or watch) to gain access to their room, and control the temperature, lighting, TV and curtains, for example, as well as easily order and pay for food and beverages.
Guests are delighted by a smooth, seamless, intuitive approach to controlling their experience, while hotels will benefit from reduced costs and delighted guests.
And this space is wide open for eager entrepreneurs. IoT will even spread to journeys, with luggage tagging, airport check-in and purchasing all potentially handled via IoT-based technology.
Big data is increasingly being used in the tourism sector. Both have enormous advantages in predictive analysis of customer behaviour. Risk analysis is better understood with access to real-time data.
Drilling down to the granular level of mass data groups means we will see true personalisation. Information might just be the differentiator which wins customers over; from understanding customer needs to better management of staff shift patterns, and stock management.
Data can also be used to analyse and review business performance. Hotel owners, for example, can use big data tools for revenue management, using historic occupancy rates and other past trends to better anticipate levels of demand.
When demand is predictable, pricing and promotional strategies can be optimised.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is making inroads in the sector too. Artificial ‘chatbots’ on websites are the new normal, and AI-driven learning can further help the sector deliver deep levels of personalisation and business performance analysis.
There’s also a host of tech like virtual reality, which has already forever altered leisure and entertainment, while voice- and biometric-activated solutions not only bring convenience but are helping people of determination navigate travel with greater independence.
Virtual tours and cultural experiences helped us all get through the pandemic lockdown, and the sector pivoted towards the virtual world with admirable speed.
Why not search for your next holiday using virtual reality?
There’s never been a better time to launch a tourism-related business, and with the rise in tech-based solutions, we are seeing a new raft of tech-related tourism solutions.
Entrepreneurs in this sector must clearly be technology experts, and that expertise does not come overnight.
What we will probably see is technology-based companies from other sectors pivoting to provide solutions in the tourism sector. And that’s to be welcomed!