What Consumers Think About Travel Technology
All those travelers you see glued to their smartphones at airports may be doing more than checking their email or updating Facebook. Many are using digital travel technology, a trend that is changing the way consumers interact with airlines, hotel chains and other companies.
To help travel providers better understand what technologies consumers are using and what they think of them, Cision aggregated thousands of English-language news stories and social media posts from key forums, news sites, blogs and social networks that appeared between November 2014 and May 2015.
The data was sliced and diced with the Visible Intelligence social media intelligence platform and a study created that looks at three key categories in the travel continuum: planning and booking travel; getting there; and the destination experience. Here are five key takeaways from the study:
1. What You Wear May Open Doors
One key trend is wearable technology. It’s catching on, and one of the driving forces may be the “MagicBand,” a wrist-worn device that visitors to Disney’s theme parks and resorts that hotel guests get for free and park visitors can purchase for a small fee.
MagicBands allow guests to open room doors, enter the parks, carry meal plans and charge purchases. With Disney’s success, more travel brands will follow their lead.
2. Some Apps Miss the Target
While many airlines and hotels have created booking apps, those apps have not caught on. That’s because most of them can’t compare brands, prices and reviews among different providers — the most important feature to many consumers.
3. Now Boarding: Successful Apps
One thing consumers are using apps for is in-travel processes, such as boarding airplanes. But these apps must be seamless and hassle-free or consumers will reject them. Worse, they may call them out on social media.
App developers must keep close tabs on what social media users are saying. Some of the most active social contributors are also Apple product users, and they demand app compatibility with Passbook, a home-page app on iPhones and iPads that now extends to the Apple Watch.
4. Smart Customers: Your Room Is Ready
As Disney has shown, travelers like technologies that provide convenience. Another example: apps that turn smartphones and Apple Watches into room keys, allowing guests to check in remotely and bypass the hotel lobby.
Once they get to their rooms, guests also appreciate in-room amenities like custom iPads. Once reserved for luxury hotel guests, more non-luxury hotels are providing them too.
Hotel chains that offer a technology-rich experience were highly rated for travel in 2015, according to AAA. AAA also reports that the highest-rated hotels are keeping up with their tech-savvy guests by offering them the choice of high-end service either in person or electronically.
5. Travelers Don’t Want to Pay for Wi-Fi
Travelers get really upset about high-priced, low-speed Wi-Fi. In reviews, many travelers complain bitterly about high prices for Wi-Fi on planes and at some high-end hotels. Ironically, lower-end hotels get kudos for complimentary Wi-Fi.
Insights Analyst Caitlin Jamali contributed to this post.
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