Hyper-connectivity Shapes Future Success or Failure in Travel
Meet Sana — she’s 26 and is a Bangalore IT specialist. She spent a year abroad in Europe and currently works for an international company. She recently got married and there were 600 people at the wedding. Sana is connected 24/7, active on social media, and wears clothes and shoes that track her health. She expects technology to be responsive and provide what she needs in a timely and mindful way.
Sana has two million followers on Instagram and regularly hires a drone to help document her travel and social activities as social capital is very important to her. She only travels with her phone and is cashless. Her husband, Raj, is interested in going to a lodge in the Himalayas for a digital detox but it blocks Wi-Fi, her idea of hell as she suffers from “nomophobia”, and expects the same level of service wherever she goes.
To reach Sana, you need a mobile strategy and provide a responsive customer service 24/7. Already mobile phone ownership is almost 80% globally, and in cities such as Bangalore, smartphone penetration is over 85%. There could be ubiquitous connectivity by 2030; ensuring that travellers have access to Wi-Fi is a must-have, and no longer a perk.
Technology dictates the success or failure of many a travel brand. We only have to look at the speed and scale of online adoption to see how vital it is to business survival. Today, almost 40% of the global population use the internet and by 2030 that is expected to be 53%. In advanced regions such as North America, Australasia and Europe it is already 80–90%, with 50% of Asia and over 66% of Latin America using the internet. There is a huge push to reduce the connectivity gap and make the unconnected connected by 2030.
The iPhone was launched only eight years ago in 2007 and already there are more mobile subscriptions than there are people in the world (7.4 billion) and by 2030, Euromonitor forecasts 10 billion — and 70% of those will be smartphones. Mobile technology is leapfrogging incumbent tech in emerging markets.
Reaching the optimum peak
New technologies are flooding the market and we still don’t fully understand how they will impact our daily lives. What we do know is that always-on consumers expect brands to engage before, during and after a trip.
Consumers will still continue to rate convenience, value for money and flexibility, but they increasingly want personalised service and are willing to engage to achieve that. Through the use of big data, we are moving towards an era of “1 to 1” personalised marketing.
We are seeing greater communication between individuals, their peers and brands particularly online and through social media, which brings greater transparency and collaboration to the relationship but we are also likely to see an optimum peak or ceiling as future generations such as Generation Alpha who grow up with technology will want to have a seamless experience online and offline.
Tech utopia vs dystopia
Sana is likely to be using an autonomous wearable - ie a connected watch, contact lenses, or glasses - or even a wearable smartphone as predicted by Euromonitor’s Head of Consumer Electronics who said we may begin to see internal chip technology by 2030. Sana is happy to receive notifications, alerts and offers via her wearable smartphone as she likes that the brands that she engages with know her preferences thanks to predictive analytics.
The big data that brands collect on Sana from all her interactions help provide greater personalisation. Clearly, there are concerns about privacy and security, but Sana like over 40% of Indians and Chinese already say that they find targeted ads helpful, compared to the 25% who saw it as an invasion of privacy.
Technology for good
Sana’s husband Raj uses his personal impact app to monitor his daily activities, track his carbon footprint and use of renewables. While trekking, he uses a Tracker Trail app that’s endorsed by UNESCO and ATTA — that uses anonymised data — to help him see which trails are the busiest/quietest so that he can choose his optimum route, powered by Google’s map technology.