The Digital Transformation of Travel

By  Amit Madhan, President & Group Head – Information Technology & E-Business, Thomas Cook India

Technology has become key in travel and will continue to take a larger role both for the traveler and the industry service provider. On World Tourism Day, it is important to note that the theme of travel in this era is attributed significantly to the technological transformations and travellers have never had it better.

Today, technology as an enabler is not just adding to the story of travel but is rewriting the way we travel. Wanderlusts now have more channels of information and interaction. The influence of technology in the New Age of Travel, when people travel to find a deeper meaning in their trips and diligently personalise their vacations, is unmistakable and inseparable.

Seventy-one percent of Indian travellers use smartphones to research destinations, to understand the best ways to reach venues, things they can do there, and the best deals available. Plans are confirmed on the basis of a thorough research and places are checked out before the visit to get a feel of being there. As unique experiences are one of their top objectives, jaunts are timed so that there are special events at the venue for them to participate in. It is the memories that count now.

In ‘The New Age of Travel’ where the story is all about the traveller, the influence of technology inevitably leads to personalisation. Seven out of ten travellers are open to the idea of letting companies use personal information to roll out personalized offers. Destinations are chosen based on specific preferences, which vary from Wi-Fi connectivity, a room with a view, or the right cuisine. Now, travellers believe that it is the small things that count and want flawless detail in their itinerary. Nothing is trivial anymore.

Seven out of ten young people below the age of 35, prefer to spend on experiences rather than products and indulgence is now not restricted to pampering just oneself. Travellers join communities on social media and plan trips to help communities during vacations. They look forward to roll up their sleeves and help locals harvest produce in addition to helping keep traditions alive. Environmental issues and welfare of communities are close to their hearts and consequently, vacations are ideal getaways to live out their passion. Travelers now clean beaches, rappel down cliffs with tribal folks collecting mountain honey or teach English to locals.

World Tourism Day is an opportunity to consider how technology is an enabler that stitches the various intentions of travellers together. From choosing a destination, getting a personalized itinerary, to finding a sense of purpose in their travels, it is technology that unites the traveller with their aspirations. Today, it is hard to imagine travel without an interface with technology. Let us acknowledge today that technology has truly transformed travel.

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