“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”
— Inventor Dean Kamen
Travel can be stressful for even the most experienced, but digital technology is removing the pain — and even adding a little fun to the process. These days, travelers can research an airline, train or cruise online, where they can take virtual tours of the cabin prior to booking and receive personalized recommendations.
After purchasing a ticket, they get text updates and reminders. They check-in online, receive mobile tickets, zip through security using biometric scanning and AI and use RFID tags to track baggage. And later, post-trip, cruise passengers may receive a social-media-ready photo of their final evening on deck.
These are just a handful of the technologies some travel companies currently provide travelers to make their journeys more smooth and enjoyable. Advancements in IoT, mobile applications, Analytics & AI are poised to help these companies go even further to improve their customers’ experience and build loyalties. After all, a journey should be memorable for all the right reasons.
During travel, guests look for personalized experiences — and travel companies look to OZ for the digital solutions to get them there. Digital itineraries help customize daily adventures. Wearable payment technology allows travelers to expedite purchase processes and RFID bracelets to keep track of children.
Wait times in security are shorter thanks to IoT, mobile, RPA and facial recognition.
Interactive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) allow guests to preview and reserve seats at restaurants or sports games, virtually tour pools and other facilities and book activities and excursions. Mobile apps are transforming food-and-drink ordering, creating a seamless experience for guests.
The best travel companies know that once a ticket is sold, the journey has just begun. The key to ensuring future trips is creating frictionless, customized experiences for every traveler.
Jorge brings more than 20 years of experience in strategic design, development, and support of enterprise and consumer systems in the travel industry. He oversees several teams that focus on the digital transformation of guest and employee experience.
Jorge takes a hands-on approach to product development and project consultancy, working collaboratively with business and technical leaders to create solutions that deliver the best results and greatest value.
- Source: Gartner 2019
Today in Travel and Hospitality, it’s no longer just about amenities, features and price — focus is now customer-centric and experience-based. Guests are looking for more personalized and seamless experiences when they travel. Advancements in Analytics and AI are giving brands the power to unleash data and better understand guests, including using predictive signals to engage potential guests. Simple innovative methods to preview the travel experience will greatly impact guests’ decisions to book their trips. Ultimately a stronger and more personalized advertising experience is created.
The possibilities are endless — they really are! The travel and hospitality industry has so many options to provide to the world’s potential consumers that it truly becomes difficult to formalize a trip/plan. The focus is on simplifying the research process for potential consumers and offering them innovative methods of experiencing what their possibilities may be prior to booking. Previously, consumers would search the web aimlessly waiting for something to resonate with them. Advancements in analytics and AI are now giving consumers a more customized experience when researching possibilities. Brands are now able to drive personalized content and targeted offerings to potential consumers, making the process of booking/finalizing much easier.
Over the years we’ve seen a decline in the use of travel agents — no more dealing with phone calls or multiple human interactions. Seeking more control, and to effortlessly manage their bookings, consumers now rely on transparent online platforms to seamlessly book their journeys. Advancements in online booking through mobile, AI and analytics have given consumers a variety of additional features to enhance their experiences, including price alerts that put money back into their pockets. Online booking now gives brands the ability to influence the rest of the guest journey from inception and to create stronger relationships with their guests.
Swimming with the dolphins or Jet Skiing? It’s every guest’s dilemma: Which excursion to choose? Brands are now offering a plethora of amenities and activities to exceed guest expectations. But guests still have trouble understanding what would suit them best. VR/AR applications are giving guests the ability to experience amenities and excursions prior to booking. Digital advancements have given brands the power to customize and push offerings/packages based on consumer data. Guests have full transparency on what they can expect, leading to much easier decisions on which activities to book.
Checking in online is a must for travel and hospitality guests worldwide. Manual and inefficient processes are a thing of the past, and lengthy wait lines/times are immediately off-putting. Brands must digitally transform the check-in process to keep up with consumer expectations. Digital technologies including IoT and mobile are expediting check-in processes and providing guests additional functionalities to optimize their journey, helping them enjoy a more frictionless experience.
It’s go time! As guests embark on their journeys, multiple stops are sometimes required. Someone traveling on a cruise may be coming from a different location than the port, requiring both a hotel and a shuttle. Brands must consider and accommodate all these variations in the guest journey as they depart from their homes. The ability to digitally manage all aspects of the leaving-home stage is essential. Pre-journey notifications and reminders are impactful and help build a strong initial connection with the guest. A seamless home-to-arrival experience is critical in properly starting off the journey
In every hotel, resort, cruise liner, casino, airport terminal and restaurant, arrival is one of the most exciting parts of the guest journey. First impressions are everything at this stage, as initial interactions and experiences can set the stage for the entire vacation. Facial recognition, Robotic Process Automation and IoT devices are allowing employees to greet guests with personalization and optimize the entire welcoming process.
In every resort, cruise liner, casino and airport terminal, the security stage is viewed as the most burdensome moment in the guest journey. Delays and inferior service can lead to frustration for guests, altering their consumer behavior and severely impacting the guest experience. Breakthroughs in IoT, mobile and RPA are optimizing the entire security process for guests and staff. Lengthy, manual, paper-driven processes are automated and made digital. Guests reap the benefits of reduced wait times and more attentive, efficient service from employees. Innovative offerings including facial recognition and AI are streamlining security checkpoint processes for guests and offering experiences never before available.
In every resort, cruise liner, casino and airport terminal, check-in processes have traditionally been slow, requiring multiple human interactions. Guests today are looking for ways to streamline check-in and get their trip started sooner. Digital technologies including IoT and mobile are expediting this process, promoting remote check-ins and providing guests additional functionalities to optimize their journey. Guests feel empowered and a more frictionless experience is created.
Let the fun begin: It’s time to explore the property and get a feel for everything around you. With guests’ time being so valuable, it’s a priority to fast-track every aspect possible. With hotels, cruise ships, casinos and other destinations being so large, it becomes troublesome to explore the entire grounds and understand all they have to offer. Intelligent navigation and IoT assist in guiding the guest through the property while providing a personalized experience based on preferences. Interactive technologies such as augmented reality allow guests to experience and book facilities such as shopping, pools, sports, restaurants and bars as well as experience and book activities and excursions that the hotels, cruises and partners offer.
Safety first! On board a cruise, you will experience a mustering or safety orientation that is standard protocol for guests and staff in case of emergency. The focus is on giving back what’s most important to guests: time. The ability to reduce time spent on previously extensive processes will greatly enhance the guest experience. Digital advancements have optimized the flow of moving passengers/staff through the ship during the drill, and safety alerts and protocols are now also accessible digitally.
Most of the work is done. Arriving, security, check-in, safety drills — now it’s time to enjoy the vacation! Continuing a seamless and digital journey, guests take advantage of mobile, IoT and AI to enhance their experiences. These digital advancements empower guests and put them in control. Guest no longer want to carry wallets and room keys; simple wearables do the job. No more waiting endlessly for a drink; instead, through IoT, an employee will recognize you’re on low and fill you up before you even need to ask. These technologies are creating frictionless experiences for guests to exceed their expectations.
During travel, guests look for personalized and delightful experiences, requiring features such as digital itineraries, to help customize their daily experiences, or digital payments, to expedite purchase processes on the trip. Similarly, connectivity to the rest of the world is critical to guests in today’s digital era. Guests need the ability to communicate and share their experiences with the rest of their networks with speed and ease. Additional, digital breakthroughs are shaking up travel and hospitality. Imagine, in every hotel room and cruise cabin, voice and mobile app control of all entertainment devices, lighting, temperature control devices, curtains/blinds, room service and a virtual concierge and booking service. The interactivity of voice control and the data captured by these devices will greatly enhance the guest experience.
That’s a wrap! As guests conclude their journey, it is important to leave them with the “cherry on top” effect. Interaction and personalization are the drivers in creating these delightful final experiences. Digital advancements in IoT, AI and analytics have led to new guest-centric features, including the ability to scan a guest’s digital itinerary and recommend last-minute activities. Or snapping pictures of guests via drone during their experience and digitally sending them as memories for guests on the last day. It is critical that in some shape or form, the guest has something to tie them back with their experience.
Arriving home from a wonderful trip can cause mixed emotions. As guests disembark, it is critical that the transition is hassle-free. Advancements in IoT and mobile applications allow guests to enjoy a seamless departure. For example, an app can instantly call for luggage, check out a guest and order a ride to the airport. Or analytics and AI can be used to track preferences guests expressed throughout the trip and save them for another trip, creating a fast and efficient customer experience the next time they book a vacation. The departure stage is also a vital time for the guest to reflect on their experience. This is an opportunity to interact with them while the experience is still fresh. Digital advancements allow us to listen to guests, gain insights and build brand loyalty.
An overlooked part of the guest journey: referrals and loyalty. Today, consumers are pledging less and less loyalty to brands. Rather, they care about who can create a superior and personalized experience for them. What’s better than to have guests continue to talk about their phenomenal experience even after it’s over? Social media and digital advancements in IoT, analytics and AI have given brands and consumers the ability to interact and engage on a more personal level. Picture this: Two months after a fantastic cruise, your customer is sitting down with friends to have dinner, and they receive an interactive message from a cruise line with picture memories of the last dinner they enjoyed on board. Naturally, they show all their friends, which sparks a conversation and interests more people in having the same experience. Brand loyalty has been built, the word has been spread and your customer is now the go-to travel expert in their group of friends.
OZ is a leading global consulting company whose services and solutions enhance Customer Experience through digital innovation.