"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten" - Bill Gates
20 years ago you booked flights, accommodation and tours through a local travel agent, purchased a few guide books and set off. Communication was postcards, snail mail and landline phone calls. Today travel is researched, booked and paid for online and communication is through smart phones, skype, instant messaging and social media. We are living in an age where information is readily accessible online and instant is the norm. Technological change has been rapid and unrelenting and the tourism industry has been hit hard. Google is taking over the travel world and middle men are replaced by Metasearch engines like Webjet.
History shows that an attitude of ‘We have always done it that way’ comes at a cost. Who remembers Kodak film? And Rest in Peace the beloved Video rental store. The pace of change has caused casualties but there are winners. Now we have AirBnB, Uber, Facebook and Google to name a few. They haven’t been around very long but they have disrupted their industries by doing things differently. Those not willing to change or who do not see the writing on the wall will be left behind while those that embrace it will see success.
Now is the time to use technology to our advantage as it is the most significant trend affecting the travel industry and ‘businesses with high digital engagement enjoy a 20% increase in revenues’1.
So where do you start? By innovating and doing things differently to your competitors.
The DIY mobile customer is alive; spoiled for choice and able to do things for themselves whenever and wherever they want. Businesses need to be found easily online, available on mobile applications and have pizazz. The ability to book and pay easily and instantly is a given. Imagine a chat bot and some drone photography to bring the WOW factor!
Connect and engage to build your brand and community through social media. Share your story, take people on an adventure, given them the WHY. Make it beautiful and creative. Share, don’t sell and post regularly to be front of mind. Warning: Do not follow the pack – dare to be different!
Automate processes utilising cloud based software and systems that integrate with each other. Imagine your CRM, point of sale, payments and accounting systems all talking to each other. Real time, accurate data to make decisions – game changer!
And in the near future virtual reality, where customers try before they buy and being able to utilise artificial intelligence systems to provide insights, simplify decision making processes and deliver personalised experiences for customers.
Harnessing these changes will set your business apart to reach higher levels of success. We mustn’t underestimate the benefit of implementing these technologies now to be successful in the future.
1 : Deloitte Access Economics: Connected Small Business – How Australian small businesses are growing in the digital economy