14 May 2019

How digital is transforming travel

Travel may be one of the industries most affected by new digital developments. From planning and booking, to logistics like flying and paying, travel today looks almost nothing like it did even a decade or two ago. The experiences expected by customers before, during, and after their travel are constantly evolving, opening the door to both challenge and opportunity. Take a look at some of the big changes in travel thanks to digital transformation, and learn the story of a traditional tourist region launching themselves into the future.

Walk this way

It’s likely that you’ve already trained your phone to recognize your face, but biometric monitoring is incorporating itself into travel, by air, land and sea. Earlier this month Royal Carribean cruises, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the will be further implementing IDEMIA’s MFace high speed 3D face capture technology in their debarkation process. When debarking the ship, passenger’s facial identities with the identities of ticketed passengers who boarded the ship earlier. This system, which does not store identities after trips are completed, has proven to not only be much faster, but also much more secure than previous security procedures.


Facial recognition is also saving you time checking in for your flights. Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, working with Delta Air Lines, opened the first fully biometric terminal, allowing registered, ticketed passengers to check in, drop baggage, and board their flight with just a quick glance at a screen. This process is more secure than barcode scan system, helps identify falsified passports, and saves an average of 9 minutes per passenger. Airports in China are already testing biometric screening, and boarding and check-in process via facial recognition is planned in countries like Japan and England.

All for the Insta

Shifts in the economy and attitude of younger generations (you know who you are) are compelling brands to offer higher-value experiences. With authentically unique, affordable, and transparent options like AirBnB are developing in the hotel sphere, traditional hotels are forced to adapt. A strong example of this is Mariott’s millenial-minded brand Moxy. Originally marketed as offering the “bare maximum”, Moxy hotels offer luxury experiences in prime locations worldwide, for more affordable prices. Several different Manhattan neighborhoods have Moxy brand hotels, with uber-instragammable decorations in the rooms and common spaces like rooftop lounges and bar areas. In exchange for central locations and chic interiors, guests trade in other luxuries like some shared amenities in order to keep the prices low. The rooms at Moxy hotels are also typically 30-50% smaller than average, which guests seems happy to accept--an overall enjoyable experience is more important.

Cash is the past

More and more of life becomes manageable from our personal mobile devices, making other things obsolete. People are no longer traveling with bulky camcorders or cameras, preferring to carry just their smartphones. It seems like the next item left off the packing list is the wallet. A study by PwC shows that nearly a quarter of Americans prefer mobile payment, and mobile payment is even more commonplace in some areas, like China. Travel is pushing this to the next level. Traveling internationally is in many ways easier than ever, and smart companies are finding ways to make the experience even more seamless.

A good example is seen in how Australian brands have begun allowing for payment from Chinese digital payment platforms like Alipay and WeChat. Being able to pay for taxi services like Cabcharge with Alipay, a system Chinese tourists already know and like, breaks down barriers like currency and language. 7-Eleven accepts different forms of mobile payment worldwide, including WeChat and Alipay in Canada. As rates of tourism from China continue to rise, 7-Eleven encourages these visitors with a familiar, easy payment experience.

Where there’s tourism, there’s transformation

Travelers today expect not only information and access via digital technology, but to be able to exercise personal control over their travel experiences. There is much opportunity to enhance customer experience in the country of Spain, who while only opening its borders to international tourism in the late 1950’s, receives the second highest number of international tourists worldwide. Some areas of the country, like popular beach areas of Ibiza and Mallorca receive over 10x the number of visitors annually as there are residents. We’ve seen that in terms of digital adoption and innovation, most Spanish companies have not kept up with their competitors in other countries.

The tourism board of Murica is a recent example of the transformation needed in Spanish tourism. They knew they needed to connect digitally with their customers during all phases of the tourist customer journey. How did they decide their strategy, and actually get started? Get the details in the case study to see how this traditional area is pushing themselves into the future.