The travel and tourism industry in South Africa like any other industry is not static but dynamic. Each year comes with different trends which challenge the thinking of old business models and behaviors. Below are some technology trends currently affecting this sector in South Africa.
Sharing Economy – More and more people are becoming comfortable with the power of peer to peer arrangement.This is expected to increase as more and more people become comfortable with the concept. Agents are also embracing this more and more by servicing government, corporates and small businesses more effectively than they could do it themselves from a procurement perspective.
Customer experience – Various surveys conducted show that more and more customers are becoming brand loyal.This indicates that customers are becoming less influenced by traditional brand building, like billboards and TV advertising, and more value is being placed on the overall customer journey. Companies that focus on delivering experiential customer journeys are more likely to build repeat business because customers now buy experiences and not just products.
Use of data – With more and more data being readily available, it implies that no matter how big or small a business might be, getting to grips with this information will make all the difference. ITCs that gather information on how their customers book, where they travel, what they book and when they book can speak to their clients in a personalised way, which increases the chance of converting a sale.
New walk in is mobile – Years ago hotels would try and attract walk ins with last minute specials. Nothing has changed, except now hoteliers targeting smart phones with same day booking specials will catch them. Mobile devices will certainly not be replacing agents.True, mobile can be a useful tool for on the go product research and some of the more simple booking processes, but many bookings are just more easily and conveniently done with the assistance of an experienced live human being.
Rise of meta search – Meta searches like Kayak and Momondo.com do a better job than Google in searching for the best fare and then sending the customer to book at the airline or travel agent supplier website.These handy sites will grow in prominence.
Desktop decline – Online players need to invest in the best responsive experience possible as users check a price on mobile, research more on a tablet and perhaps book on a laptop or even still on a desktop.The only behavioral certainty is that it could be any device and unlikely to be a PC.
The African traveler – Companies that gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively communicate to the rising black middle class market segment using available technology and data will uncover untapped potential.