If you have been a travel agent for a while, you probably have noticed a paradigm shift. Travellers no longer call with dates and times and ask you to put together a complete vacation package. You may still play a role in their travel arrangements but today’s travellers are more technology savvy and they put those tech skills to work when it comes to travel.
So, what do you know about today’s travellers?
The Face of the 2015 Traveller
The face of today’s savvy traveller may surprise you. He or she is:
· Nearly ageless but with similar demands: travellers of all ages are better informed and more involved in their travel arrangements and experiences. They expect choices, speed, customized travel, and greater integration of technology to facilitate every phase of their travels.
· Tech savvy: travellers are increasingly confident and capable of using the latest technology for their travel purposes.
· Experiential: many travellers are increasingly focused on experiential, immersive journeys, choosing to “live like a local” and spending longer periods of time abroad (60+ days).
· Contradictory/unpredictable: while searching online for the best prices and packages, today’s travellers are also willing to “trade up” for luxury. Conversely, they may flip options next time and focus on a working or cultural immersion experience.
Tech Savvy at Every Level
Today’s travellers utilize every available technology resource for planning, journeying, and sharing their experiences. Many begin their travel planning from the comfort of their own living room, using their PC or mobile device. They will likely share their travel news, images, and opinions across most media platforms.
Travel technology solutions have enabled travellers to fully customize their plans. Travel-specific software and apps gather data (such as destination recommendations, specialized tours, etc.)and forward it to the user’s profiles. Web robots or alert systems from a travel agency notify the traveller of product/service availabilities matched to each client’s criteria.
Travel technology links travellers with virtual communities of fellow travellers – before, during, and after travel.
Mobile device technology also helps travellers orient themselves in remote locations via GPS functions, arrange for reservations, change itineraries, and send travel alerts.
Telling the Story
Once, wealthy individuals made the Grand Tour. They took a few photographs and chronicled their journey in letters and diaries that often were lost or forgotten within a generation or less.
Social media has made it possible for anyone’s travels to have an extended life, far beyond the moment it happened. Details and images are shared in an instant.
A More Complete Travel Experience
Certainly, technology affects the ease with which people plan, schedule, complete, and share the story of their travels.
On the one hand, technology would appear to fuel the more hedonic nature of some travellers – providing nearly instant gratification, total customization, and a much larger audience for story-sharing.
On the other hand, technology provides greater availability of travel information and options that may encourage travellers to look traditional tourism and fantasy. Immersion programs, working vacations, and exploration of other places and cultures affect a traveller’s behaviour by transporting that individual from the familiar and predictable into new life experiences.
The astute travel agent keeps pace with travel technology solutions and clients’ ever-changing needs and interests.