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DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION OF TRAVEL

Digital transformation has profoundly impacted industries such as healthcare, banking, logistics, telecom, insurance, manufacturing, etc. The travel industry is not an exception, for it underwent considerable changes due to the digital disruption that affected every aspect, converting the travel and tourism industries into brave early adopters of digital transformation.

While travel extensively uses information and transactions in all stages of the value chain, consumers search for the information before a trip, compare and check feedback, reserve tickets and hotels, and request a virtual tour of their potential destination…

No doubt, digital transformation is here to stay. Yet, it makes sense only when one listens to the clients, understands them, and constantly offers them unique experiences. For businesses, digital adaptation is not optional but an indispensable condition to continue being competitive and respond to the continuously growing consumer demands.

Digitalization is familiar in the travel and tourism sector. While offline bricks and mortar travel agencies continue to operate, many customers are long-used to making their travel arrangements online, carrying out research, booking flights, transfers, hotels, and even admission to local attractions via their computer or smartphone. That does not mean that the travel sector’s digital transformation is complete; far from it. Building on the foundation of online bookings, the travel industry is continually searching out new ways to satisfy customer needs and provide new services digitally.

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Challenges facing the travel industry

Just a few years ago, the book “Life in the Digital Vortex” by Shan, Wade, and Noronha, placed the travel industry among those most disrupted by the shift to digital services. At the time, the travel sector was highly customer-focused and increasingly online-focused. That assessment remains steadfast and has been further augmented by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, encouraging people to conduct their lives online to an even greater extent.

For any business in the sector, the customer expectation is that any service available offline is also available online, not only ‘online’ but specifically mobile. In the first quarter of 2021, over half of all online interactions were conducted via a mobile device (source). The challenge is not only to be available via the internet but also mobile responsive.

In its digital form, the travel industry broadly includes review and other information sites for online research and booking sites for transport, accommodation, and access to attraction sites and facilities. More and more, digital customers expect independence and agency from the travel industry – whether it’s booking their flights or arranging accommodation via a network of private individuals with no hotel in sight (e.g., Airbnb). What do digital customers want from the travel industry? According to Alex Dichter and Nathan Seitzman of McKinsey & Company, quoted in a BBC article, travel customers want.

  • Authenticity: they want so-called ‘real’ travel experiences instead of the packaged, touristfriendly ‘lite’ version of their destination.
  • Discovery: they want to find places and experiences for themselves; again, part of a desire to avoid restrictive package deals, preferring to reap the benefits of exploring locations independently (or at least, semi-independently).
  • Connection: to the destination location and other travelers (as seen in the popularity and success of review sites, such as TripAdvisor).
  • Flexibility: again, the desire not to be held hostage by an imposed itinerary.
  • Personalization: travelers expect a unique experience, one that is tailored to their specific needs and interests.

Simple transactions and processes – such as virtual boarding cards at the airport and easy and secure online payment systems when booking.

All of these services and features are very achievable through the development of digital technology. To varying degrees, they can all be found as part of the offerings from many travel sector players, whether it’s review and research resources, online booking services, or userfriendly payment options.

Digital transformation technologies in the travel industry

The technologies currently transforming the travel sector include.

  • Mobile apps
    The modern travel experience was (and continues to be) transformed by the smartphone. Travelers walk around with a map of the world in their pockets, detailed enough to show the street they’re standing on. That map is also a complete encyclopedia containing every historic building, monument, artifact, or attraction they might find interesting.
    Their phone also offers access to all of their travel plans and documents. No wonder mobile apps are fast becoming the critical mode of interaction between travel businesses and their customers.
    More than just access to information, mobile apps allow travelers to board planes and trains, open hotel room doors, order room service, or find a guide for the next day’s explorations. It is now possible to travel halfway around the world and not interact directly with another human being.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
    Artificial intelligence is an essential tool in these increasing human-digital transactions. A chatbot on a travel company’s website is available 24/7 and can handle many standard questions and issues, including reservation changes, redeeming vouchers, or checking out. With this type of digital technology, there is little need for human employees’ time, and services can be offered in various languages automatically, opening up the company’s potential customer base.
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
    The expanding worldwide network of connected devices equipped with sensors and processing power offers access to customer data. The travel industry can use that access, those insights into customer wants and needs, to improve and adjust the individual customer experience, making it easier to satisfy travelers’ expectations. For the travel sector, knowing the customers better means more sales; for the customer, it translates into a better, more individual experience.
  • Reviews & Ratings
    Social media-based reviews and ratings have given the customer greater power and influence in the traveler/travel company relationship. Online review platforms create global communities of travelers, exchanging views and recommendations that can have a significant impact on a service provider’s reputation and, therefore business.
    The flip side for the service provider is a more granular insight into customer views and values. Travel companies can use this information to improve services and products, engage directly with customers (both individuals and community groups), increase customer satisfaction, and build company credibility in the marketplace.
    For the traveler, easy-to-use, rapid-sharing review and rating platforms have become essential sources of information to be consulted and researched in planning any trip.
  • Virtual and augmented reality
    Virtual reality is another fast-growing research technology for travelers. By creating virtual tours, travel companies open up a whole new experience to their customers. People can see their hotel room or rented accommodation before they book it. They can preview locations and attractions to create a better personal itinerary. After their trip, they can post 360-degree images on their favorite social media platform.
    Once on their travels, customers may find that the visiting experience is potentially enhanced by augmented reality tours adding new depth with extra content, videos, sound effects, music, narration, etc.
    Taken to a logical conclusion, virtual and augmented reality could even mean the possibility of travel without leaving home, a potentially attractive option for people with mobility issues and anyone who doesn’t want to travel during a pandemic but still wants to see the world.

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Conclusion

The travel industry was an early adopter of digital technologies – as witnessed by the fact that online bookings and reviews are now viewed as ‘business as normal’ and not technically innovative. There are still plenty of innovations to come, and travelers should continue to expect new disruptions, especially in personalization, using the data gathered by widespread digitalization to enhance further and individualize the travel experience.

At one end of the spectrum is using digital products and services to travel without needing to travel physically.

For most travelers, the travel industry’s ongoing digital transformation means increasing online convenience and the automation of the essential elements of deciding where to go, arranging the journey, and then having the best possible experience and sharing it. For individual travel companies, digital transformation is a strategy to build and maintain a competitive edge, potentially leading the industry toward the future.

The integration of business and IT has resulted in a surge of digital transformation in the travel and logistics industry. The emergence of new technologies and growing demand for real-time engagement with customers throughout their journey is changing the way business is conducted, with big data playing a crucial role in developing innovative strategies. To keep up with these changing needs, organizations must adjust their systems and processes to a flexible framework that supports innovation. Our travel and logistics specialists are equipped to handle evolving market conditions, adaptive planning, and early delivery.

What we do

We work with clients across hundreds of use cases to create technology solutions that enable the 5 nodes of Industry 4.0.

Aviation Industry

Our team specializes in helping airlines and travel technology providers embrace digitization and make strategic decisions. We have extensive experience in areas such as operations, revenue management, cargo, and maintenance, and offer product engineering solutions to give our clients a competitive edge.

Transportation services

We assist ground transportation companies in digitizing and optimizing operations through our Connected Travel experience, making it more focused on the passenger. Our solutions, powered by technology and data, help improve operational efficiency, offer seamless ticketing, improve communication, promote sustainable mobility, and enable targeted marketing.

Delivery Solutions

We use digital initiatives to solve complex business challenges throughout the entire logistics value chain, including order management, transportation (intermodal), warehousing, and last-mile delivery. We collaborate with our clients to create strong digital solutions using technologies that support B2C and B2B eCommerce, transportation enablement and optimization, last-mile delivery prediction and optimization, and warehouse automation.

Urban delivery solutions

Our goal is to create a city of the future where public transportation is accessible to everyone. We assist in developing and implementing futuristic Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and Demand Responsive Transport solutions that help achieve this goal. Our solutions help reduce the carbon footprint of the mobility industry and alleviate urban congestion.

Hospitality IT Solutions

Our focus is on innovation in the hospitality industry. We understand the dynamics of guests in hotels and onboard cruise ships and help our clients reimagine the journey and adapt to the digital customer's needs. Our expertise in creating 'Smart' and 'Sustainable' operations helps fast-track the digitization process.

OTA Solutions

Our mission is to digitize travel agencies and travel management companies, and we leverage our expertise to create omnichannel solutions that meet the needs of tech-savvy travelers. We develop innovative solutions across the entire traveler journey, from personalized marketing to integrated booking platforms for flights, hotels, car rentals, and ancillary reservations, to customer support solutions.

We offer UX/UI Design Services. Our team of designers creates user-centered designs to enhance user experience and drive engagement. From website and mobile apps to software interfaces, we bring your digital products to life with intuitive and aesthetically pleasing designs. Our services include,

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By tapping the right signals from sales, experience, and marketing channels, we help you unlock the untapped potential of loyalty transformation. Our digital solutions team works with multiple SaaS, PaaS, and cloud solution providers to help you ideate, design, plan, and execute new loyalty solutions driven by a proven loyalty-transformation framework. Rejolut's team of experienced designers, data engineers, integration specialists, and loyalty functional SMEs can help expedite your transformation journey by building loyalty.

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