Our current dependency on technology and how we make use of it in our daily lives impacts how people travel and the travel industry as a whole. Gloria Martinez, travel technology expert and EMEA Market Manager at Booking.com, has a background in travel technology within the hospitality industry.
With her first-hand experience in this travel technology transformation, Martinez explains recent research findings that explain who today’s connected traveller is and how accommodation providers can support a balance between guest needs and business goals through the support of hospitality technology.
A complex traveller
Of global travellers, 47% want faster development of technology to improve their travel experience, but only 27% of accommodation providers are currently leveraging technology to improve the guest experience. The hospitality industry is experiencing friction between supply and demand based on the attitude towards technology.
We don’t want to waste time. Instead, we want to experience our world in the most unique and personalised way possible. This mindset creates a very complex traveller who has high expectations and is looking for instant confirmation, immediate responses and personalisation.
Today’s traveller is over-connected, so going on holidays means switching off from the online world and pressing the “airplane mode” of the human brain. Travel has always been a synonym of being disconnected and rest. However, we experience a completely new sort of fatigue. This is the reason why experiences like mindfulness, yoga retreats and meditation are becoming so popular.
Hotelieres have the opportunity to help their guests to find the right equilibrium between experiencing an authentic trip and recovering from their daily routine by connecting with them.
Finding the right equilibrium
For tech-enabled travellers there is an ideal trip, and offering a balanced trip is key for success.
This traveller is a mix of the all-inclusive tourist and the backpacker. Today’s traveller wants to look after themselves, but at the same time they want to feel cared for. They also want to experience the travel destination in an authentic way like a local. Through the rise of personalised activities, travellers want to be active participants instead of onlookers. Finally, they want to truly live the trip rather than waste time on preparing it.
This challenging balance is not easy to find, but it gives power to the hoteliers. In fact, accommodation providers are in the best position to help travellers find this balance.
Common situations where hoteliers can help
For example, travellers visiting a location for the first time feel more secure and comfortable having their smartphone on hand. In case the traveller gets lost or needs to find a nice restaurant, their smartphone is still accessible to use digital maps. However, using a smartphone in this situation can become a problem since one of the main purposes of going on holiday is disconnecting. If the traveller is still dependent on their device and use it, they are not able to switch off entirely.
Another common example is when travellers use their smartphones to research the perfect experience. While the traveller may find plenty of interesting activities, they may not have enough time to complete everything on their list. This adds pressure and an overwhelming feeling that will not allow the traveller to fully enjoy their holiday (nor relax).
This is where the hotelier can help. Instead of travellers using their smartphones, a hotel receptionist can provide personal recommendations based on a guest’s preferences and interests. Another option is to use hotel messaging technology that can help answer traveller’s questions and provide activities or restaurants suggested by locals. This technology can even be used before the traveller arrives to help plan their trip.
The role of travel technology
Technology needs to be understood as a supportive ally and not a challenge. However, it is still perceived with apprehension in the hospitality industry because it is considered a substitute for human interaction.
In fact, hospitality technology helps support new connections. These tools allow accommodation providers to offer the right equilibrium that today’s travellers seek. This new digital effectiveness brings the immediacy that the traveller needs and fulfills the desire for human interaction.
To help accommodation providers navigate the growing selection of hospitality apps, BookingSuite launched the AppStore – a technology marketplace that offers applications to help hoteliers connect with their guests. Booking.com properties can explore technology solutions in categories such as guest reviews, guest messaging, price optimisation, property website, check-in, upsell and promotions.
All photos by Xavier Gómez / TecnoHotel Forum