Sponsored by: Avantio
By Nicole Bayer
For the past five years, the travel industry has been heading toward digitalization.
The preferred method for tourists to plan their journey has been online or via apps throughout the different travel touch points for several years.
As per Statista, online bookings and on-the-go mobile apps have been the preferred choice for travelers since 2018.
But the pandemic has been a catalyst to push forward the adoption of technology in the customer journey of guests even further.
While our industry has been more geared toward a more personal touch, which is what makes it so special, how can we fulfill the expectations of the tech-savvy guest without losing our core value of personalizing the experience?
It is possible. We have to see technology as a tool, but how we reap the benefits of its usage to augment the travel journey for guests lies entirely in our hands as hospitality experts.
Guests That Stay Connected to Our Brand
The importance of staying connected has become even more imperative. And we have to find new ways to bring back the essence of travel to guests via technological tools that help us adapt to the new demands and cover the operational needs of vacation rentals.
Unified Inbox - Going Beyond What Is Expected
Many property management systems already have this great tool as a feature. If you want to increase your customer satisfaction, it is a must-have.
81 percent of tourists want experience recommendations from hospitality professionals, so this communication channel is ideal to go beyond what is expected.
Though typically used as a live chat to answer guests' queries, why not excite them before their trip by sending them a message with a travel guide of your destination before their arrival or information on catered attractions that they can book with you?
QR Codes Are Here to Stay - Easy Ways to Use Them
Then there are other types that appeared during the pandemic, such as QR codes, which are here to stay, with an average download of 11 million US households per year.
Since you can pretty much link QR codes to websites, landing pages, and your social media channels, it is very easy and cost-effective to find innovative ways to use them.
Why not leave a greeting card with a QR code that sends them to a personal welcome video from the team or guest relations manager and invites them to follow you on your YouTube channel?
Invite them to stay connected with you if you have a loyalty app or Instagram to promote stories about new activities at your destination to keep them connected to your brand.
Storytelling Through Augmented Reality
While augmented reality (AR) is not exactly novel—it has been in the landscape already for a couple of years—it is most definitely evolving.
Travel companies such as Vrbo, Vacasa, Airbnb, and TurnKey have been using virtual tools to showcase properties in an immersive experience for potential clients.
But if you truly want to differentiate yourself from the competition to make a lasting impact, you can use this tool to further personalize the experience for travelers during their stay.
Some hospitality companies have used it to tell stories about their properties´ history, such as the case of BlueGreen Vacations, which used their app to reveal the history of New Orleans via augmented reality.
IoT - Sustainability Meets Personalization
Smart Devices - Attending New Eco-Friendly Trends While Offering a More Personal Touch
IoT (Internet of Things) smart devices such as temperature and energy control are becoming more important. Sixty-one percent of post-COVID-19 tourists want to travel sustainably, according to sustainable tourism statistics.
As per the most recent survey from Booking.com on sustainability, there is a growing number of tourists who have become more aware of the importance of taking care of the environment and prefer to stay at accommodations that are taking eco-friendly actions.
IoT can help you cover the rising demand for eco-friendly stays while personalizing the experience by letting your guests control more appliances and services through tablets and smartphones.
Besides, you can use the data stored through these devices to remember guests' preferences and send them more targeted messages.
Moreover, you will be able to reduce your energy consumption costs while meeting the expectations of your clients.
Driving Efficiency While Staying at the Top of Mind
Another key tech that will empower you to drive efficiency, reduce costs, help you go green, and attend to the personal needs of your guests are contactless technologies.
Data show that 62 percent of tourists' preferred method of check-in and check-out are mobile apps, as opposed to websites at 30 percent and only 8 percent for public kiosks.
The good news is that there are many vacation rental management systems that already integrate with these apps or have this feature, and many come with the possibility of sending notifications and value-driven customized messages to guests.
Keeping the Wanderlust of Travel for Guests
Create a Travel Blog - Carry on Building the Momentum
As per the recent travel report 2021 conducted by AMEX, even though there are still some travelers who will not be able to go on their dream holiday in 2021, 76 percent of them are building their top destination travel list for 2022.
Make sure you have a website design with a dedicated travel blog so you can nurture that wanderlust and pent-up travel demand. Building momentum for the traveler is as important as giving them excellent service during their stay.
A recent study conducted by the Journal of Destination Marketing and Management mentions "Emotions form an important consideration in how destinations position and market themselves."
Appeal through personalized email marketing campaigns to those guests that you have on your list, even if they are not ready to travel.
Chances are that they will include your destination on their list if you do a good job with your destination marketing through your blog.
Although technology might seem to take away that one-to-one personal reach with your clients, it can be an ally to stay connected with guests while streamlining your operations if you find creative ways to use the digital tools you have available.
Also, take into consideration that we are at the height of a technological revolution in travel, and tourists will be expecting hospitality companies to offer digital services that drive efficiency in their travel and connect them to their favorite brands.
Furthermore, looking into the future of travel, the Gen-Z generation and those to come are growing amid an era of online content, social media, apps, and technological platforms in general, digitalization is a must to keep on engaging with them on their terms.
Nicole Bayer is a PR and content manager at Avantio.