Emerging technologies can win the hearts of travelers

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    By Adrian Johnston

    First of two parts

    ASIA-Pacific is on track to become the biggest driver of demand for air travel, with nearly 4 billion passenger journeys expected over the next two decades, according to the International Air Transport Association. This means business-as-usual will not be enough for the hospitality industry to support the explosion of travelers.

    One of the trends behind this increasing demand is the “Instagram effect” which is influencing people to prioritize meaningful experiences over the need for luxury. Take Jasmine, for example. She is one of the 4 billion travelers thinking about her next trip – and she is considering either a year-end journey to Australia or the Olympics in Tokyo. She also has specific travel preferences such as opting for low-cost carriers while splurging on four-star accommodations.

    Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also playing a role in growth by making it easier for people to plan, check-in and manage their trip , which is putting pressure on industry players to embrace data and advanced analytics in order to attract and retain their customers.

    By leveraging emerging technologies in the Cloud, hospitality companies stand to improve customer service, optimise productivity, and control operational costs.

    Tapping on emerging technologies to upgrade customer service. Jasmine will likely spend hours trawling through several travel aggregators to find the best deal to her destination, not giving preference to any one website, airline or accommodation brand. Recognizing this, Expedia, a popular travel website, is building an emotional connection with customers through targeted deals that suit their preferences. Leveraging the cloud, Expedia has partnered with Oracle to harness all customer interactions across channels to build a holistic customer journey and present the right level of hotel and the right flights to customers like Jasmine.

    Accommodation providers are turning to the cloud, as well, to go the extra mile for guests at the point of booking and are adapting to various guest requirements on-the-spot at check-out. Case in point – serviced apartments company Oakwood Asia Pacific integrated all its processes in the cloud, enabling its front desks to seamlessly configure rental billing based on travelers’ requirements and quickly generate guest bills. As a result, loyal guests like Jasmine can receive personalized rates from Oakwood, gain the flexibility to extend her stay and even assign certain nights to her corporate account to easily combine work with pleasure.

    In addition, hotels are turning to the cloud to fully utilize emerging technologies such as AI-enabled chat-bots, virtual assistants and concierge services that can decrease problem resolution time by an average of one-third and almost immediately respond to guest inquiries, freeing staff from routine tasks and significantly reducing guest wait times .

    Moreover, AI can automate “best next actions” like playing Jasmine’s favorite music playlist or streaming content tailored to her favorite TV shows by leveraging her data stored on the cloud, which enables hotels to provide the ultimate personalized experience. (to be continued next week) Author is Senior Vice President of Cloud Applications (SaaS), Japan and Asia Pacific, Oracle.