Air travel itself can’t be digitally scaled -- at least not yet anyway -- because it’s hard to imagine teleportation from Boston to New Zealand without, you know, boarding a flight and sitting there for 16+ hours. But the overall travel experience can be scaled via mobile and technology, and some brands are already on that big-time. Below are 4 mobile trends taking off this summer:
One of the worst things about travel (among many great things) is that something can go wrong when you’re far from home, and that’s going to become a stressful situation super quickly. Airlines and other travel outlets are inundated with customer service requests -- lost bags, ticket changes, other concerns -- and often when you’re in a super stressful moment at the Barcelona airport (this is not me speaking from experience or anything, sigh), you can’t get ahold of someone who could help you solve the problem. That’s changing with technology, though. Air New Zealand’s Oscar chatbot has reportedly enabled the airline to answer 75% of questions in Australasia, freeing up its customer service agents to focus more on handling complex queries. In short: you get your issue solved faster.
Get this: Lufthansa is using IoT to enable passengers to track their baggage via a link found on their mobile boarding pass in the Lufthansa app. So as you’re deplaning, you can figure out the status of your baggage.
Singapore-based Drop Positioning Systems has created an all-encompassing Smart Hotel Eco-System to simplify the process of storing and locating guests’ luggage, manage inventory and even tracking of lost & found items, enabling hotels to save on manpower while boosting workflow efficiency at the same time.
Now, obviously that’s one airline and one set of hotel chains that DPS sells their product to -- but basically, your luggage (often the source of travel concern) is now on a seamless journey (can luggage have a ‘customer journey?’) from plane to ramp to bag claim to hotel. And tech -- that you can access on mobile! -- is backing it up every step of the way.
Hopper got some attention in late spring for “Secret Fares” within its app, with Travel and Leisure even claiming it would save consumers $500 per flight. Well, unfortunately “Secret Fares” got discontinued in June, with Hopper’s CEO saying he needed to “eliminate any further confusion about the program.” That’s a bummer.
Here’s what’s not: push notifications on various stages of the travel journey are still massively important to travelers and a way to gain loyalty to your app, be it an airline, a hotel, or even a sightseeing destination (send pushes about traffic, where to check in, or even rich pushes of what the traveler is about to experience). Secret Fares may be a ways off because of the intricacies of airline pricing, but push notifications are a powerful mobile travel tool.
Voice search currently presents the greatest opportunity in hotels. According to Travelport Digital Mobile Travel Trends Survey 2017, 31% of travel brands intend to invest in voice technology in 2018. Makes sense: we’re becoming increasingly comfortable with voice and voice search, and embedding it within travel apps is psychologically relevant too -- if you’re in a place where the majority of people aren’t speaking your primary language, having a trusted phone in your pocket where Siri will speak that language is comforting.
We referenced the 2017 one above, but the 2018 one is also out -- and this might be the most data-packed slide from it:
Clearly the idea of mobile communication with travel brands and airlines is at scale and still growing; admittedly this is a smaller sample size survey (about 1,000 travelers), but think of most people you know. Are they using apps to plan, research, book, or get notifications of various parts of the process? They probably are, especially for domestic travel. Mobile is a powerful player in the travel space -- it will continue to connect travelers to quick, ideally seamless information about their belongings, their times, and the experiences they want to have.
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