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travel technology

Technology continues to influence every part of our lives, from communication and commerce through to navigation and networking. No aspect of modern life has been impacted more than travel, with technology affecting every single aspect of the travel experience. Whether it’s booking accommodation, getting around a new city, or organizing work as a travel professional, let’s take a look at how travelers benefit from technology every single day.

airplane on globe

Instant global communication

Many of the benefits ascribed to technology come under the banner of communication. Never before in human evolution have we had the ability to communicate with anyone at any time. This is especially useful for travelers, who often need to talk with multiple people across continents and time zones. The combination of global networks and mobile devices has made communication easier than ever before, which means you can book a flight, reserve a hotel room, or manage your work emails on the go.

Smart mobile travel assistants make communication easier than ever before, with free calls and internet services allowing travelers to contact nearby businesses and move around like a local. These tools offer a tailored and personal approach to modern travel, as guests are able to communicate, access useful guides, and book tickets for local attractions. Smart mobile travel assistants are equally great for accommodation providers and travel professionals, because they can add value through improved revenue streams and analytics while enhancing the customer experience. 

Information and advice

The internet is a fountain of knowledge and advice, sometimes to its own detriment. Every regular traveler understands the importance of accurate and up-to-date information, with online forums and social platforms often used for travel inspiration and research. Smart mobile travel assistants are a great way to access relevant information in a customized and trustworthy package.

Dedicated travel apps have been tailor-made to solve common travel problems and provide a great user experience. By providing your guests with a free and accessible source of communication, they can access great deals and relevant tourist content. These apps work across the city and within your own hotel, with deep room integration enabling things like room service and automation.

traveler with travel tools

Comparison and contrast

Despite its free-wheeling reputation, travel typically involves lots of research and screen time. With more products and services out there than ever before, it’s important to compare and contrast services in order to find the perfect fit. Comparison websites provide travelers with an easy way to research accommodation, tours, insurance, and anything else that’s integral to the travel experience.

While comparison websites are incredibly useful, sometimes too many options can lead to confusion and paralysis. Travelers now demand a more tailored and streamlined approach, with some comparison services able to learn from past choices and provide valuable recommendations. Smart narrow-cast advertising provides a similar approach, with businesses able to reach out to customers on their own terms. When these services are integrated with travel apps, hotels and other businesses can benefit from improved business opportunities.

Navigation and time management

Travelers need integrated maps and navigation services every single day. Gone are the days of large paper maps. Now we can fit an accurate map of the entire globe in the pocket of our jeans. Whether it’s navigating public transport in a new city, finding the fastest way to the airport, or working out if you’ve really got time for lunch, technology makes navigation and time management easier than ever before.

Smart mobile travel assistants provide personalized help wherever you go, with travelers able to take advantage of browsers, integrated content, and geolocalization features. While Google Maps and other navigation tools are available to everyone, a dedicated operating system designed especially for travelers provides a much richer and more comprehensive travel experience.

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Traveler using technology

The travel and hospitality industries are constantly growing and changing. With technology being developed every day, it can be difficult to keep up with the newest gadgets and platforms. However, it’s important to learn about and incorporate these technologies, as they have the potential to elevate every aspect of a traveler’s experience.

4 Technologies Changing the Travel Industry

Whether you’re a hotelier, tour operator, restaurant owner, or avid traveler, utilizing these 4 technologies will enhance the experiences of you and your guests, and ensure that you’re in the know on today’s tech!

Mobile Travel Assistants

Mobile travel assistants are revolutionizing the hotel experience across the globe. Rendering hotel apps obsolete, mobile travel assistants provide everything a traveler needs, all packed into one smartphone. The capabilities of these devices can’t be overstated.

Hotels are placing mobile travel assistants in their rooms, giving guests access to the device 24/7 for the duration of their stay. Mutually beneficial to both guests and hoteliers, mobile travel assistants help guests organize their trip, allowing them to make bookings, find restaurants, watch audio guides and videos, get directions, and access all the tips and tricks they’ll need to have a great time. The smartphone also works in the hotel as a tv remote, room key, and mainline phone, allowing guests to contact the concierge, order room service, and more. It’s almost hard to believe all of this can be done from one device!

Linking up with mobile travel assistant technology is incredibly beneficial for hoteliers. With an organized web dashboard, hoteliers can access data (basic, non-private data) from the linked devices. This allows them to help guests quickly, centralize hotel services, receive more feedback, and access analytics and data regarding their guests’ average routines. This means that any hotel using these devices will be able to see which restaurants, activities, hotel services, and more are preferred by their guests. 

Given that mobile travel assistants also allow hoteliers to control their own advertisements on the device (creating an additional revenue stream), hotels can market the best possible services to their guests.

These handy devices are capable of providing free unlimited local and international calls, and free unlimited 4G WiFi with hotspot capabilities. Needless to say, mobile travel assistants have become a rising star among hoteliers and travelers alike.

Social Media and 360 Videos

It’s a bit of a no brainer that social media has affected the travel industry. However, considering these platforms are constantly updating, there’s always a new feature to take advantage of. Instagram has come out ahead as an important social media platform to master if you’re looking to bring attention to any destination. With viral hashtags and beautiful filters, some travelers even plan their trips according to what they’ve viewed on Instagram. 

This is why it’s more important than ever to understand how to market your business, city, or event online. Some current methods of marketing on Instagram include:

  • Advertising through popular Instagram accounts
  • Extensive research regarding popular hashtags
  • High-quality photo and video content
  • Consistent content upload schedule
  • Giveaways and contests for likes, shares, and follows
  • Sharing special discounts and coupon codes

There’s a new feature being used on various social media platforms that is changing the way people in the industry are marketing to potential travelers. Three-hundred-and-sixty-degree photos and videos are allowing businesses from all around the world to display their destination and services in a more immersive, emotional, and experiential way. Luckily, with the right camera, this feature is completely accessible to any business on social media. Take advantage of this amazing tool and connect with potential guests like never before.

Virtual Reality Travel

Virtual reality technology is becoming more and more prevalent across industries, and travel is no exception. This exciting platform takes immersive marketing to a whole other level. Using video and/or 360 photos, travelers can be transported all around the world with a VR headset. What better way to market your destination than by letting people experience it digitally? 

Virtual reality is a powerful destination marketing tool
Virtual reality is a powerful destination marketing tool

Virtual reality headsets go beyond pictures. Want to see the California redwoods? How about one of the shopping streets in Tokyo? Due to the design of the headset, people can immerse themselves in sounds and other physical sensations that make them feel as if they’ve just been flown across the planet. Interestingly enough, it’s not just parks, beaches, and other natural landscapes embracing virtual reality. More and more hotel chains are beginning to use VR to allow their potential guests to view their selection of rooms. People like to know what they’re getting into when traveling far from home. VR fills that gap.

Virtual reality is slightly less accessible than the other tools on this list, but that’s likely to change as this technology is being incorporated into more and more industries.

Packaged Travel Booking Websites

It’s pretty typical to book your flights, hotels, and activities online. What has become increasingly popular, however, is the rise of interlinked or multiuse booking websites, offering packages and deals for multiple aspects of the standard travel experience. This allows tour operators to offer clients a more convenient booking experience, and oftentimes, a better deal. Here are just a few of the reasons why booking online has completely crushed booking by phone or email:

  • Convenience
  • Ability to access quick reviews
  • Coupon codes
  • Place multiple bookings at once
  • Content available in multiple languages
  • Suggestions automatically generated

It only takes one look at the wildly popular website Trip Advisor to see the success of centralizing bookings for accommodations and events. Second only to the aptly named Booking.com, these websites have been incredibly dominant forces in the travel industry. 

Almost every new piece of technology, whether intended for the travel industry or not, can be utilized to enhance the experiences of both guests and business owners. This can be in the realm of increasing your hotel’s efficiency, in marketing your location, or in simply building an experience that is more convenient for travelers. If you aren’t using these four technologies, give them a try and see what they can do for you and your business!

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Bed and Breakfast - Manet Mobile Solutions

Let’s face it: No one goes into the Bed-and-Breakfast business thinking they’re going to strike gold. 

For many small business owners, it’s the joy of meeting people, of serving weary (and excited!) travelers and the love of sharing the place they call home with others. 

At least, that’s what propels that initial foray into the world of B&Bs.  

Five-star reviews, running meet-and-greets, booking out rooms – these all come right after the initial buzz of starting something new has worn off. 

Yet, by all accounts, B&Bs have a rosy outlook. 

From 2013 to 2018, the number of B&Bs has grown. 

In terms of revenue, long-term trends indicate an overall rise, projected all the way to 2024. 

Besides the mini-dip in 2023, the strong demand for B&Bs shows that owners have a chance to really capitalize in the next five to seven years on a market that’s on the rise and likely to thrive. In fact, while the industry is considered “mature,” there’s a very strong expectation of growth in revenue when compared to revenues from other industries within the sector. 

So there’s an opportunity here. But how can B&B owners get a slice of the proverbial pie?

So far, all the chips are playing out in their favor.

“Average occupancy, or number of rooms filled on a daily basis, according to PAII, has skyrocketed along with the number of available properties, increasing from 45 to 50 percent in a recent four-year period. And room prices have also increased, going from $103 to $121 in the same four-year stretch.” – Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII)

Part of the robustness for the industry can be attributed to the precedent set by Airbnb: it’s managed to popularize more informal and personal travel accommodations. A greater number of people have come to prefer this more intimate and “local” way of booking and traveling. 

And closely connected with this digital disruption caused by Airbnb is the larger, more macrocosmic shift in the hospitality market at large: digital and tech innovations that streamline, simplify, and promise to delight the customer experience, from booking to departure, at a fraction of the cost. 

And it’s something that B&B owners would do well to harness. 

1) Review Management

The first aspect to digital enhancements for the B&B market is important for everyone within the hospitality sector: managing those reviews. 

You’ll see that managing reviews in the digital space is actually not about completing the customer’s experience but, rather, anticipating it, and then having the forethought and planning in place to engineer that experience and the resulting glowing review. 

In other words, intend to put into place all those pieces that will get you the review you’re looking for. 

Harnessing the power of review marketing

Review marketing: What is it?

When your potential customer is looking to book you over hundreds of other, comparable, accommodations, reviews are a huge propeller. They’re the “why,” the catalyst, and the justification for the customer’s choice. 

But it’s not just the number of five-star reviews you get nor how many of these review sites you populate. Of course, that’s important. What’s really critical is how you respond. 

You’ll notice, for example, that the proprietors of Netherleigh Bed and Breakfast respond to reviews in a highly selective manner. For the most part, all their reviews are positive. And even the ones marked “critical,” such as the 4-star review below, are generally positive.

However, instead of responding to both, the proprietor decided to only respond to 5-star reviews. That’s unfortunate because, with a simple acknowledgment, they might have ensured an even more delighted customer who, now, may end up booking elsewhere.

Traveler reviews - Manet Mobile Solutions

The thing is, customers are willing to overlook a “bad” review because they understand that everyone’s experiences are subjective. What irks one person, another person may not even bat an eyelid at. 

They’re more interested in how you, or a member of your team, respond to and resolve the situation reported by the irate traveler. 

Your response can be an opportunity to give a potential customer/reader the chance to know, more fully, the picture behind the scenes. So it’s not just about following up – if you don’t respond at all, you miss out on speaking to your potential customer in a more subtle way.

For example, since 52% of customers want to see reviews that “mention tips that improve the guest experience,” this is the owner’s chance to do just that!

What travelers look for in reviews - Manet Mobile Solutions

Source: Little Hotelier

Managing your reviews in a timely and friendly manner, engaging with, thanking, and even addressing customer concerns on these platforms is incredibly important. Review management, at the end of it, is all about managing and addressing the details.

The details are, after all, where you can prevent customer attrition.  

What’s your niche? 

See, your “niche” is directly related to your customers’ experience of your B&B. And it’s not just your “digital” niche, either. Your B&B can benefit from using particular themes and marketing itself in this way. 

Choosing a niche or theme for your B&B attracts the right kind of travelers and will determine which booking sites you should rely on and manage reviews on. 

How to focus on your traveler niche - Manet Mobile Solutions

Source: Little Hotelier

For example, according to research by The Business Research Company, “wellness vacations” are an increasing theme that is spurring B&B profitability.

“People are interested in incorporating activities such as cycling and yoga into their travel plans.”

Focusing on a niche is a B&B proprietor’s way to tap into digital behavior, thinking like a hotel, but operating (especially in terms of cost) as a small business. 

According to the same research, 74% of B&Bs are profitable precisely because they have no employee overheads or they use sub-contractors on a more casual basis. 

And if you can use these digital enhancements, you’re likely to see an influx of guests while still being able to operate like a lean, mean, booking machine. 

Using email marketing

Email marketing is incredibly powerful. It’s not so much about open rates as it is about timing. Email marketing can be used to great effect in building nurture sequences and for building trust, providing personalized perks, rewards, and discounts.

A powerful loyalty program or an email marketing suite that provides a way to “tag” customers is crucial to your retention and re-booking rates. You want to make sure that all the trouble you’ve gone through and the effort you’ve put forth creating an unforgettable stay actually pays off. 

And the best “ROI” is a re-book. Loyalty programs, even in small-format operations like B&Bs, can pay-off, big time. If 18% of travelers already sign up for them and 35% “sometimes” sign up, that’s over half your guests!

In fact, part of the profitability factor of B&Bs is precisely because they’ve had to compete in an already “competitive” environment. 

While Airbnb has paved the way for a change in travelers’ behaviors (booking and otherwise), it has also made the market far more saturated, since individuals can now list their personal properties as accommodations. 

In order to keep up their momentum and professional edge, B&Bs owners have had to resort to certain “flexible trends in the industry,” including: 

  • Flexible check-out times
  • Smart room keys
  • Increasing use of analytics
  • Personalization of services

Yes. Even B&Bs. 

2) Streamlined Booking Experience

A streamlined booking experience is all about your digital activities online. Review management is just one part of it. 

But there are three other prongs from which to tackle your attrition and booking rates: the online customer experience of booking through OTAs, aligning your social media, and using your website as a viable hub for your digital footprint. 

Online booking

See, customer behavior is already about booking using OTAs because of the convenience and user-friendliness of the entire experience.

So why not meet them where they’re already at? 

At the same time, booking directly through providers is perceived as less user-friendly and less convenient though increasingly secure. Yet individuals opt for convenience over security. 

This points out clear areas for improvement. If you’re a B&B owner, you have a chance to take over your customers’ preferences for booking with OTAs by either matching or surpassing the convenience and user-friendly aspects.

Travelers' booking preferences - Manet Mobile Solutions

Source: Little Hotelier

And that’s where your website comes in. 

Use your website as more than just a content corral

Many individuals who own B&Bs will simply use their website to display a plethora of beautiful pictures of their property. 

If they’re a little more tech savvy, they may also hook up a calendar or some kind of primitive booking system – which turns out to be a nightmare to try and organize on the back-end. 

Instead of this ad-hoc, informal, rigged together system, B&B owners need to have a firm, streamlined strategy for capturing bookings and crucial customer information – making it easy on the customer side and on their own side. 

They’ll need to invest in technology like property management systems, channel managers, website builders, and a booking management software that hooks in to and plays nicely with email marketing. 

Remember the semi-negative, 4-star review we saw above? The customer’s major complaint was that it was too cold and, worse still, they were unable to reach the manager. This could have been easily prevented with technology. 

For example, a property management app could have been easily used by the guest in order to create a request, which someone on the team or the proprietor could then look at and address – especially if it’s after hours. 

It’s not just about improving the perception of your guests. A streamlined booking experience includes creating the systems on the back-end that will capture and support these “standard” customer expectations. 

Many of these systems give proprietors cloud-based benefits that include automating and accelerating administrative tasks and paperwork, alongside allowing them to distribute rooms online, expand market reach, and maintain a good relationship with the Google gods of search.

Social media much?

Especially because you own a sweet little B&B, it’s important to use social media to the max. 

Customers already like to book online and, as we’ve seen, rely on customer reviews to make their final booking decisions. 

And part of that research is social proof through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. 

3) Ancillary Services

The final skewer in this three-pronged approach to positively affecting your online booking rates is to offer ancillary services that are standard but “upgraded” using technology. 

You can certainly take your cues from boutique hotels and think of it less as an upgrade and more of a catching-up with traveler expectations. 

Digital meeting spaces

Wi-fi. It’s what everyone demands when they first walk through those doors. 

Often, inns and B&Bs can host business meetings or be “quaint” lunch spots for travelers, either in a professional or leisure setting. 

And since an increasing number of guests are also “remote” and location-independent, offering “digital” meeting spaces is a great way to enhance your guests’ experience. 

Turn Meet’n’Greets into on-boarding sessions

Meet-and-greets are standard in the B&B profession. So why not take a chance to “on-board” your guests, acclimating them to not only the property and the particulars of your service but the various digital enhancements they can rely on as well? 

Have you just installed a new, automated home cooling and heating system powered by an app? Have you partnered with a local meal delivery service to speed up “room service” as part of your B&B?

Take the time to walk your guests through these enhancements. 

Conclusion

Many of these actions designed to enhance booking rates are actually all about a shift in behavior.

See, customers’ and guests’ actions and intentions are already digitally-driven. While it may feel like a huge ask, what these “changes” really come down to is bigger-picture thinking. 

And, in order to start thinking bigger, B&Bs don’t have to look far – nor spend too much. Even overhauling just their booking system or website can completely simplify and, at the same time, amplify pretty much everything from bookings, to revenue, to customer satisfaction, and beyond. 

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