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What kept customers happy 10 years ago no longer works today. Internet and new technologies have completely changed consumer consumption behaviours, and the travel sector has evolved tremendously as a result of digitisation.

In the early days, the goal was simple: to provide consumers with a new way to research and book their travel. Back then, customers were still serviced through call centres, where company representatives focused only on answering queries, and customer relationship building post-booking remained offline.

With the rise of online travel portals such as Expedia in the mid-1990s, digitally-empowered consumers began shifting towards online purchases, causing customer expectations to evolve yet again.

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The changing consumption behaviours have evolved customer expectations in three main ways:

Immediate:
Customers today demand assistance with more immediacy than they ever have, expecting a resolution in just 30 minutes for urgent requests conducted over the phone. These customers typically rate the speed of response as the most critical factor in service.

Exhaustive:
Customers expect a seamless experience when interacting with brands, no matter the channel – from call centres to digital messaging apps, emails to in-store services.

Personal:
Customers respond positively to personalised content and services – our research shows that almost seven out of 10 customers say that they feel valued when customer services know them by name; almost half of them feel that it is critical for their service history is remembered.

 

How is technology impacting the traveller experience?

With a high penetration rate of mobile devices in Asia and airports increasingly adopting new technologies, travellers today are able to enjoy a more relaxing, seamless and hassle-free travel experience.

The way travellers research, book and experience their travels have rapidly evolved; as we speak, there are apps that help travellers navigate around airports to create a more relaxing experience with the information they need, in the palm of their hands.

With mobile technology readily available, travellers have access to more options and can easily change travel plans on-the-go, from any device. Mobile apps are able to cover needs such as checking flight status, accessing boarding passes, changing hotel or flight bookings, navigation, booking rides or even offer personalisation based on a traveller’s history.

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For airports and all their stakeholders, including airlines, travellers, retailers and ground service providers, several key technologies are likely to catalyse the development of entirely new business processes, including biometric identity management, Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) tracking, service robots and augmented reality.

The airport of the future is an intelligent environment: connected, immersive, personalised and multisensory. For example, Australia has planned to automate 90% of incoming international air travel processing by 2020, using a combination of facial recognition, fingerprints and iris scanning to identify passengers without the need to show passports.

 

Technology trends shaking up the travel landscape

Emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are changing the way we experience travel. Travel companies are tapping into these technologies to showcase destinations that are visually spectacular, giving customers a multisensory engagement experience with the destination even before they book their trip.

In addition to digital realities, other technology trends that are poised to revolutionise the travel landscape include:

Blockchain:
Being hailed as the new “Internet of Trust,” blockchain is awash in innovators looking to transform industries, governments, commerce and culture. The term is self-descriptive: blocks of data are sequential­ly added to a chain of similar blocks. All blocks in a chain must follow the same set of rules, established from the first block. At present, an array of governments, businesses, non-profits and ad hoc collectives are using block­chains in a breadth of ways hinting at its future potential. We’re also beginning to see blockchain prototypes emerging in the travel space.

Neural interfaces:
When it comes to the mind, there are two very different chal­lenges: extracting information out and transferring new information in. Neural interfaces attempt to address one or both challenges, and can do so in either an invasive or non-inva­sive way.

Space Tourism:
Mars is the final frontier of human travel for our lifetimes, but closer to home, commercial and government competition is heating up as a 21stcentury “space race.” It’s not just promising orbiting hotels, but trickle-down technologies that will bring all corners of the earth closer together.

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For a deeper look at the nine technology trends shaping tomorrow’s travel industry, download the full Sabre Labs 2017 Radar Report here.

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