The Future of Technology in Travel - International - June 2011
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Technology also continues to integrate itself into consumers’ daily lives, with developments such as the proliferation of smartphones and Internet-enabled tablets meaning that people are constantly connected, whether inside or outside the home. As a result, technology is likely to play a far wider role in the future in enhancing the traveller’s experience. With more and more devices utilising location-based services (LBSs), both tourism suppliers and destinations have massive potential to track, interact with and better inform travellers, providing them with more focused information and more precisely targeted offers, and in this way help to increase customer satisfaction. The world is currently on the cusp of a new revolution in terms of technology, perhaps due to recent developments such as the iPad, which has moved computing away from the desktop and into the hands of today’s highly mobile consumer. Businesses that recognise this trend, and can figure out how to exploit it successfully, potentially stand to gain significant advantage over their competitors by reaching out and developing real, lasting and meaningful relationships with their customers.
Although widely used throughout the tourism sector, information technology (IT)-based systems have not affected all areas equally. Certain sectors, such as airlines, have been early and keen adopters, using it to help manage and streamline their operations and gain strategic advantage. Others, in particular hotels and other forms of accommodation, as well as smaller tourism suppliers or attractions located within destinations, have been less enthusiastic, and have only recently begun to take advantage of the many benefits that IT can bring. Many traditional retail travel agencies are still lagging behind in terms of technological adoption and, as will be discussed, it is increasingly evident that consumers are often better informed that their professional travel advisors. Retail travel agencies are increasingly threatened by new and innovative players (in particular the online travel agencies, or OTAs) moving into their market space, enabled by the power of new technology. These are in turn being threatened by new and evolving business models, again empowered by developing technologies that facilitate close contact with the customer. Despite nearly half a century of innovation, it is clear that change is the only constant in the tourism sector, and that IT-based systems continue to play an important role in driving that change.
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