The COVID-19 pandemic has been a “digital wake-up call” for the travel and hospitality industry, with customers of experiential businesses demanding enhanced digital communication, contactless solutions and a superior guest experience.
Travellers and customers of tour and activity businesses now demand more online shopping options, digital communications, and contactless solutions, forcing companies to adapt how they serve their customers.
That’s according to a new report from Skift and AWS Travel & Hospitality, which found organizations across the industry are now embracing digital transformation - a philosophy that promotes digital-first business practices, toolsets analytics and new ways of interacting with guests.
The report defines the benefits of digital transformation as
- To deliver experiences that satisfy travelers’ increasing preference for communicating, shopping, and buying using digital means.
- To accelerate digitalization of travel company products and services, making them easier to price, promote, distribute, and purchase.
- To enhance the ability of travel businesses to quickly adapt their business models and ways of working to unexpected shifts in demand and the competitive environment.
- To assist with analysis and forecasting of company operations, providing new insights to drive better understanding and decision making.
- To run businesses more efficiently and profitably by doing more with less, cutting costs, and finding new sources of revenue.
- To keep pace with or surpass industry competitors and weather larger, structural changes in the economic environment.
"With little choice but to captivate customers with dreams of what was to come, brands enhanced their digital channels, invested in new and improved web sites, mobile applications, digital services and experiences – delivering improved automation, efficiency and customer self-service... And as travel reopens, with ever evolving customer expectations, brands that invested in digital are well-prepared to better serve their customers and meet their needs.” David Peller, Managing Director at AWS Travel & Hospitality.
With that in mind, Fotaflo takes a look at some of the top takeaways from The 2021 Digital Transformation Report. We hope these can help you enhance your business in some way as we move into 2022.
The acceleration of digital-first business practices
Digital transformation efforts in the travel and hospitality industry were underway before 2020, but the pandemic accelerated the need for digital first business practices, operations, and customer experiences.
The report found that commitment to digital transformation is nearly universal, with ninety-one percent of respondents stating that it was a “very” (67 percent) or “somewhat” (24 percent) important priority for their business.
Despite this, a gap still remains between the growing importance of digital transformation as a strategy and the ability of companies to put it into practice. Most industry respondents rated their companies’ digital capabilities as average at best.
Looking ahead to the future, there is a strong commitment among those in the industry to proceed with digital plans, with 87 percent stating that it was much more or somewhat more important to proceed with their plans because of the pandemic.
Business goals moving into 2022
When it comes to business priorities for 2021 and 2022, travel executives said they were focused on the same objectives as they were pre-pandemic. Acquiring new customers was the top goal at 50 percent, followed by deepening relationships with customers (30 percent), and increasing sales (28 percent) (next page, left).
To help achieve these goals, the following digital strategies were the top five priority for business owners:
- Improve our marketing and advertising (39 percent)
- Improve our overall customer experience (37 percent)
- Improve our digital analytics capabilities (32 percent)
- Save money and improve efficiency with automation (30 percent)
- Make our software systems more flexible and resilient (24 percent)
Find out how Fotaflo’s photo and video marketing platform can help your organization enhance its digital transformation by reminding customers of their experience with your brand, leading to a better guest experience, more repeat bookings and increased word-of-mouth marketing.
The ability to deliver a great customer experience
For tour, activity and experiential businesses to strive, focus must be put on finding new ways to deliver a superior guest experience. This isn’t just about meeting customer expectations, but blowing them out of the water.
The report found that organizations which put digital transformation at the forefront of their business are now reaping the rewards of an improved guest experience.
When a world-class guest experience is delivered, an increase in the quality and quantity of online reviews, more repeat bookings and the growth of word-of-mouth marketing are just some of the benefits that industry businesses can realize.
Technology investments and the move towards cloud computing
The report found that 73 percent strongly or somewhat agreed they had made upgrades to their technology systems during the pandemic. Cloud was a particular focus, with businesses investing in cloud computing in a bid to run more efficiently, respond to unpredictable consumer demand and support new business opportunities and new ways of working.
Most interestingly, was the use of cloud computing to improve guest experiences. In fact, 84 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that cloud technology can improve the customer experience.
Interested in learning more about how digital transformation can help your tour or activity business grow? Fotaflo has designed an innovative photo and video marketing solution that improves the guest experience, increases repeat bookings, encourages word-of-mouth marketing and so much more!