Increasing digitalisation of services is assisting companies in curating a more personalised, intimate experience for the consumer, writes Sharat Dhall, President, Yatra.com. He notes that culinary tours, green travel and insta-worthiness of a destination have become important drivers of travel for the new-age traveller who is constantly on the lookout for a new experience. Excerpts from his writeup:   

The Indian travel industry has been growing at an exponential rate at the backdrop of burgeoning socio-economic disposition and evolved preferences of customers. Fuelled by Government initiatives like UDAN and digitalisation reaching nooks and corners of the subcontinent, India has been motivated to travel a lot this year. The much-awaited HR mail with the holiday calendar in the first week, marks a beginning of planning for the year. Families plan their long vacations and festive visits to book way ahead in time.

Travel has become more about rejuvenation, adventure, fulfilment, learning new skills and ‘being more of who you are’ than just ticking off places and flopping in the sun. Travel has now become a priority in the decision-making process of how they want to spend their disposable income.  The trend can also be attributed to the first generation of digital nomads who would put envy-worthy Instagram and Facebook feeds with picture-perfect photographs and inspire more and more people to travel, creating a snowball effect.

Taking frequent breaks and shorter vacations, they are just looking for a reason to give in to their wanderlust – be it a weekend break, destination wedding, baby-mooning or a second honeymoon. An interesting observation to note here is that the travelers across the world are not hesitant to stay in a stranger’s house. For a cost effective and indulgent trip, homestays have become quite popular. Although we have seen an inclination towards budget hotels, we cannot ignore the fact that there is high level of interest for luxury travel and properties, encouraged by the macro economic conditions. Needless to say, whether budget or luxury, all travelers want is to weave a tapestry of experiences while travelling.

With travel becoming more experiential than functional, brands are personalizing their offerings as per customer preferences. Basis their buying patterns brands push relevant offers to their target segment, recommend options for their stay, etc. Big data, cloud technology & personalization is having a profound positive impact on the travel industry as it offers customer insights that were hitherto not available previously. With this new information, businesses are in a better position to provide customized service, enhance customer satisfaction, and increase operational efficiency and at the same time help companies gain competitive advantage.

To sum up, while some of the trends in the travel space prevailed, there has been persistent changes in the travellers preference and studying those, some of the onlooking trends could be:

Green Travel

More and more travellers are increasingly ‘going green’ in their travel choices while keeping the needs of the environment in mind

Food Tours

In 2018, culinary travel ruled the trends and keeping along with that theme brings 2019’s big food-related travel trend: foodie tours. Almost every big city provides at least one Foodie Tour, from Savannah’s Southern Charm Sidewalk Tours to Brooklyn Chocolate Tour

Family Travel

When you’re on the go with a crew in tow, experiences are clearly the best option. But instead of the usual Disney World or all-inclusive beach getaway for groups, families are being much more adventurous

Instagram’s enticement

One area that will remain hot next year is Instagram. The social media platform continues to take the industry by storm, making “insta-tourism” as much a part of global travel as passports. Younger explorers are making entire trip plans based on photogenic spots captured on Instagram.

Personalisation

Big data and machine-based learning both provide opportunities to deliver a more personalised experience and this trend will only grow in the years ahead.

Internet of Things

Another digital trend in the travel industry is ‘The Internet of Things’ which refers to the use of internet capabilities within everyday devices, allowing them to send and receive data. This is extremely useful within the tourism industry, because it can be deployed to automatically reduce costs and improve the experience for customers, without the need for human interjection.

Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR)

In the current day and age where technology is the big bet of the day, consumers are spoilt for choices and are increasingly looking of this intervention even in their travel choices.