In the 1970s Boeing’s now-iconic 747 Jumbo Jet revolutionised travel, making mass international air travel affordable. Now trends indicate a second revolution is underway as technology changes the way we holiday.
“Just as the economies of the Jumbo Jet made the dream of an overseas holiday attainable for many more people nearly 50 years ago, today technology is shaping the way we decide where to go, what to do and the experience we have,” says Edward Frost, British Airways’ commercial manager for South and East Africa.
The airline, which flies to about 200 destinations in nearly 90 countries, has identified four technology influenced trends which are increasingly shaping the way its customers are holidaying.
While the unrelenting pressure of constantly being available means some people expressly seek destinations with no connectivity, many more are choosing holidays that add to their mental or physical well-being. Examples include spa-breaks, yoga retreats and cycling or walking trips.
Bleisure, an awful contraction to describe adding a leisure component to a business trip, is an associated trend.
2. Enhanced experience
The comfortable familiarity of being recognised and having your needs anticipated is one reason your parents’ generation might have returned to the same resort or hotel year after year. Now your digital profile means airlines, hotels, even restaurants can provide more intuitive customer service.
3. Constant evolution
Much has been made, rightly so, of how disruptive innovations such as Uber and Airbnb have given consumers more options and flexibility at better prices. These disruptors are likely to face increased regulatory pressure as traditional business fight to regain market share. They will also have to contend with second-generation disruptors looking for ways improve or undercut their offerings or split off niche markets.
4. Less sightseeing more experience:
If the Boeing 747 shrunk the world for holidaymakers in the 1970s the internet has put it at millennials’ fingertips. Perhaps this is why the global-village generation is shifting from its parents’ dip-in, dip-out sightseeing holidays to total-immersion experiential travel. Typically this may involve community volunteer work or participating in conservation projects.
“There’s no doubt about the fact that technology is having a major influence on travel trends,” says Frost. “Just 20 years ago when we launched ba.com it was little more than a handful of pages, showing basic timetable, product and contact information. In the past decade the number of flights bought on the website has increased by 300 percent and nearly 60 percent of customers now check in on desktop or mobile.”