The possibilities that Internet and other communication technologies bring to societies and economies seem endless. We´d like to share some facts on how the Internet is shaping the travel & tourism industry.
Let’s start with a few figures. There are 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide, aproximately 34.3% of the population. Unsurprisingly, they are mostly in Asia (45%), Europe (21%) and the Americas (22%). On the other hand, in 2012 for the first time the number of international trips reached 1 billion, with top destinations being Europe, Asia and the Americas.
New markets emerge and the traveler is becoming global. The travel industry has long understood the importance of being in the right place at the right time. And the place to be is mobile and social:
Travel sites adapt to an always-connected user. As most travelers are influenced by online content, travel sites are going mobile, with new partnerships between travel brands and technology firms emerging.
With more data available, the future is all about microtargeting and customization. The travel industry is slowly understanding the enormous value of all data currently underutilized. Think of loyalty programs: Many travelers wonder “When will these people learn my name and preferences?"
Today’s travelers are empowered, and demand value. Travel distribution as we knew it is shifting towards a more customer-centric approach. Travelers want to interact in a transparent, responsive environment.
Travel is social. Most travelers trust recommendations and share content from social media and social travel sites such as Tripadvisor, over the contents generated by brands or other commercial sites. The industry recognizes social as excellent channel for conversion.
DMOs seem to be slower in embracing social media but are certainly working on it. By countries, Australia, the best performer, has reached almost a million fans/followers on Facebook and Twitter while the second and third destinations by social influence (New Zealand and Spain) are close to the 300K mark. However, at the state and regional level, destinations like California show better performance.
Mobile is allowing for unprecedented interactions. Besides the huge increase in usage of mobile devices for travel planning and booking, mobile devices open a whole new world of possibilities for new experiences with brands. Soon we will be able to connect our device to the in-flight entertaining system for personalized contents. Hotels are providing new services to guests before, during and after their stay, even beyond their grounds. Destinations invest in mobile guides and interactive maps. The technology is there, it´s now up to us to make the most creative use of it.