The concept of self-service travel has seen rapid innovation due to challenges the tourism industry faced during the pandemic. Social distancing and touchless technology became top concerns for hotels to prepare for future unpredictable health scenarios. Here’s a look at the direction self-service is moving for travelers.
Early usage of the self-service experience traces back to the first supermarkets of the twentieth century. Prior to choosing products and taking them to a cashier, it was typical to hand a list to the clerk, who then walked around the store gathering the items for purchase. In 1916 the first self-service grocery store opened in Tennessee and completely changed the grocery shopping experience. Following this model today, bigger stores can accommodate more products and larger aisles for browsing and the movement of shopping carts. Vending machines, ATMs, and self-checkout stands added later helped take self-service to a new level.
Early pioneers of online booking in the travel industry were websites such as Priceline and Expedia. These online booking platforms set the stage for conditioning modern travelers to utilize self-booking tools. These days, cloud services and automation are game-changing technologies contributing to self-service travel. Now, travelers can plan and adjust journeys through an application on their mobile device at any time from any location.
The massive popularity of smartphones has led to the rise of self-tagging kiosks at airports and the ability to check-in to a flight through a web portal. This technology contributes to more efficient travel planning as well as more choices and control for the traveler. Hotels participated in the early adoption of online booking and many now offer electronic check-in through a digital key.
Better Customer Experiences
Thanks to self-booking features, customers no longer need to spend time waiting to speak to a human assistant on the phone. Air travelers can also initiate their own check-in through a web portal up to a few hours prior to the flight takeoff. This capability is particularly convenient for travelers who do not plan on checking any luggage and can therefore skip the check-in line.
Standing in line to buy a flight ticket is no longer necessary since travelers can purchase e-tickets with their smartphones. In the process of going paperless, travelers no longer have to worry about losing physical tickets.
Another way hospitality businesses can become more connected with customers is to provide a real-time calendar that allows room availability to be displayed online. A hotel can add to the travel experience by allowing guests to communicate with the front desk through a simple web portal. The more guests can order food, entertainment, or other services on their own, the more they will appreciate the feeling of control and independence.
Keep reading: The Future of Flight with Advanced Digital Technologies
Improving the Booking Experience
The booking experience is becoming more seamless from the research to action phases through making post-booking adjustments. Tourism companies are investing in online booking software for travelers to set their own schedules. User-friendly customer dashboards have become an integral part of this experience. To maximize self-service efficiency, the 24/7 dashboard should be intuitive and allow customers to earn rewards by promoting referrals through sharing a promotional code.
While some tourism destinations like museums might still use human tour guides, they are also exploring audio guidance technology such as apps in different languages. The booking experience can be further enhanced when travel companies ask for feedback through email or social media. It’s now common for travelers to leave reviews on travel sites such as TripAdvisor without being told.
Related article: Designing a Tourism 4.0 Ecosystem for the Future
More and more tourism companies are turning to self-service travel technology to create greater conveniences for travelers. Offering more choice and control at a faster pace is helping encourage people to get back into travel. Allowing customers to plan and make decisions with their smartphones opens up wider possibilities for developing online revenue streams.