Technology is all around us. Nowadays, it’s fully integrated into how we live – and travel. But how does that affect the way people approach this process? How does travel technology affect guest expectations, and their experience?
To find out, we talked to 30 travellers aged between 18-65, from the UK and Italy. They were a mix of business and leisure travellers who accessed the internet at some point during their trips. And crucially, each of our interviewees were regular bookers of smaller independent properties.
Overall, we saw that technology has had a lot of interesting effects on these people’s approach to travel. Many of the responses revealed technology as a double-edged sword, enhancing people’s lives while simultaneously complicating them.
There’s pressure to get it right
Our research revealed that travel expectations are higher than ever. The internet has given guests access to a lot of information – and a lot of beautiful pictures to inspire our dream holidays. We can now quite clearly picture the Eiffel Tower, and we’re regularly enticed by pictures of white-sand beaches on social media.
And while this inspiring content has opened us up to a world of possibilities, it’s also raised people’s expectations when it comes to planning and taking a trip. As a result, technology increases the pressure to have the perfect experience.
One of our interviewees, Luca, said “I want the most beautiful and best hotel, the cheapest flight and the best restaurants without having to make 10,000 searches”. And this pressure was something that was echoed by almost all of our research participants.
We want to be in control
Another effect of the internet age relates to control. Having all the world’s information at our fingertips gives us real power – but at the same time, there’s so much out there that it can be hard to know where to start. So while it’s an amazing thing to have access to so much information, it can often seem overwhelming.
In the case of booking a holiday, sometimes it feels like it can take thousands of searches just to sift through it all to find something that we actually like. This is where is pays to offer easy processes to guests to reduce the amount of admin they may face. With so much searching and planning, the last thing guests want is extra steps along the way.
Travellers don’t want to give up control of their planning, but they want solutions to make it easier and prefer properties that help streamline admin work.
The key is striking a balance
Ultimately, our interviewees concluded that it’s all about balance. They want to be able to manage their own trips, but at the same time, they’d like to feel looked after.
So for properties, that means making things easy for guests, without being too overbearing. It means fitting into their tech-oriented lives just enough, but not too insistently.
For example, you could make admin smoother for guests by using online check-in technology, and help them feel looked after with personalised room requirements or promotions. You could also help guests have an authentic experience by offering tailored recommendations for local restaurants or businesses that you know.
To help them feel in control, you can allow them to set their own agenda, but help them cut through the excess of options by offering recommendations that you think they’d like either at your property or in the city or region you are located in.
To learn more about our findings, and what technology solutions our tech-enabled interviewees prefer, check out the full report.