By Amit Kumar
Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” is arguably one of best films ever made in the history of cinema. The boldly imagined masterpiece envisions a world where taking a ride to space is as commonplace as catching a flight to the US. What is ironical is that despite a number of things predicted in the movie have not been achieved yet; commercial space tourism might be a reality in the near future. In fact, Richard Branson-backed Virgin Galactic made a successful trial flight in December, 2018. While such developments are still in their nascent stage, the travel-tech industry has already witnessed a series of innovations over the last decade.
Online travel companies ushering in a new era for the travel industry
Technology’s impact on the travel industry is profound, with innovations marking the beginning of a new era of travel products and services following the advent of the internet and smartphones. Not only has the sector itself benefited from modern technological interventions like GPS in cars, live-tracking of flights and smart security in hotels, but also customers through the rise of online travel portals and apps dedicated to enriching their travelling experiences. While the proliferation of internet-powered devices has enabled the common traveler to do preliminary research about destinations using Google Maps, Pinterest and Instagram, it’s the travel-tech companies that have provided the opportunity to search, compare prices and book at the touch of a button.
Leveraging modern technology to redefine the travel sector
If the rise of online travel portals marked the beginning of a new era, it’s the sophisticated technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) that are bringing a large-scale tech evolution in the travel industry. Take machine learning algorithms, for instance. Most leading players in the travel-tech segment have incorporated these algorithms to gain better insight into consumer travel preferences. Machine learning also enables travel service providers to cater to the specific requirements of every customer.
For example, understanding whether the customer booking a mode of transport is a millennial or an elderly person makes it considerably easier to provide them with tailored options catering to their taste and budget, streamlining the entire process of researching and booking. Furthermore, machine learning allows for the compilation of consumer data on a macro level as well. It can parse through booking histories of individual users to recommend them relevant travel plans. Simultaneously, travel-tech companies are utilizing other AI-driven technologies offer customers a more personalized experience.
Another major innovation that tech-travel operators have been leveraging is price prediction. With the massive amount of data available online, companies can now foresee probably pricing trends through artificial intelligence and similar predictive analysis tools. This data-driven approach not only helps travelers make more informed decisions, but also enable them to save money.
Tapping into the unexplored; what makes a company stand out?
With the travel-tech sector becoming increasingly cluttered, a company needs to have a USP to strengthen its foothold. However, creating a steady customer base is easier said than done. When we initiated our journey, there was a substantial gap in the bus travel industry. In tier II and tier III cities, buses are the most preferred mode of transportation for intra-city and inter-city travelers. Unfortunately, there were limited options available for customers who prefer to travel by bus. We wanted to bridge this gap through our online portal to discover and book bus tickets.
Travel-tech is an extremely intriguing and exciting realm, having the potential to cause major disruptions in the travel and tourism industry. Along with new innovations, the advancement of existing technologies is also bringing in paradigm shifts. While still in its infancy, the travel-tech industry presents endless opportunities for companies and customers alike.
(The author is the VP, Product and Marketing, Travelyaari)
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