How Will Technology Shape The Future Of The Travel Industry? | Vietcetera
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How Will Technology Shape The Future Of The Travel Industry?

To find out what this all means for the future of travel and for all of us, TravelMag met with representatives from Google and Booking.com, travel blogger Matthew Mai and singer/actress Bang Di.

TravelaMag

Source: Unsplash.

TravelMag

In travel, “pack and go” is the new normal. Everything is done instantly, at the touch of a button: from booking to planning to sharing experiences on social networks.

Travelers are getting more adventurous too, venturing outside the usual tourist hotspots. 

To find out what this all means for the future of travel and for all of us, TravelMag met with representatives from Google and Booking.com, travel blogger Matthew Mai and singer/actress Bang Di. 

Tammy T. Phan — Head of Marketing, Google Vietnam

Google
Tammy T. Phan — Head of Marketing, Google Vietnam. | Source: Google

How has technology changed the way we experience travel? And how are Google’s products facilitating smarter and safer travel?

To answer your question, let’s look at the travel experience from start to finish. Once a decision is made to go on a holiday, the search of a destination begins. That’s part one (1). Part two (2) kicks in when the plan has taken shape and hotel and flights are being booked. And finally, the experience of travel itself (3).

(1) We used to read the Lonely Planet travel guide for inspiration. Now we have YouTube to help us visualize holidays and trips. 

For Vietnam travel tips, look up “Explore Vietnam #WithMe" playlist on Google Vietnam’s Youtube channel. It offers authentic reviews and tips from content creators.  

(2) The next step is to finalize your itinerary and book the flights.

If Google Search helps you find the best travel deals and accommodation packages, then Google Travel provides you with all the information you need about the destination. 

(3) When you touch down at your destination, you turn to Google Maps to find local attractions and Google Translate to communicate with the natives.

To sum it up, technology, such as Google’s products, has democratized travel by making the planning and booking process more efficient and accessible.

After the pandemic, how has the industry landscape changed in the Asia Pacific region, and more specifically in Vietnam?

We’ve recently published an article about The state of travel in APAC: Identifying trends to prepare for the road ahead, which provides updates on the current situation of the tourism industry as well as other market trends so that businesses can devise a suitable strategy. 

In a global survey, 25% of the Vietnamese respondents shared that they were willing to go on a holiday locally within the next three months – a much higher number than in other countries such as Australia (2%), Japan (4%) and Singapore (8%). 

Search engine data suggests a recovery in the tourism industry. In Vietnam, searches for terms such as “resorts” and “resort packages” are on the rise.

Next, when asked what they care about when traveling, Vietnamese consumers listed the following: 

  • safety and hygiene -- whether or not the accommodation provides free face masks and hand sanitizer; 
  • cost -- if a 25% discount is offered; 
  • and flexibility -- reimbursement in the event of date change or cancelation. 

I believe these insights can help businesses put together an effective strategy. 

What trajectory is Vietnam’s tourism industry on, in your opinion? What can businesses, especially medium and small businesses (SMBs), do to reach potential customers? 

Regarding the potential of tourism in Vietnam, data collected from Google Trends indicates that Vietnames people are ready to travel again and they are very tech-savvy. Travel search and decision-making are both happening in the digital space. Therefore, as a business owner, you want to ensure that your product or service comes up in search engine results. 

This can be achieved through Google My Business -- a search management tool on Google Maps and Google Search. Verifying operating hours, updating images and other information on Google My Business will help customers quickly find the appropriate website and location. 

Google

What is Google’s near-term strategy in supporting Vietnam’s travel industry with growth and recovery?

We have been running a program called Accelerate with Google, which is specifically targeted at SMBs and women who want to develop their entrepreneurial and digital skills. Due to the pandemic, we’ve switched to offering online workshops and currently host webinars 6-7 times a week. The plan is to step up our event programming, both online and offline, and focus more on teaching business digitization. 

Google 3

Tim Duong — Former Area Manager, Vietnam at Booking.com

Bookingcom
Tim Duong — Area Manager, Vietnam at Booking.com. | Source: Booking.com

What path do you expect Vietnam’s tourism industry to take in the near future? 

Over the past few years, Vietnam has witnessed a surge in domestic and international arrivals. Domestic tourists are also willing to pay more for travel and leisure activities, making Vietnam an important market for Booking.com. 

Moreover, Vietnam possesses a diverse culture, rich and complex cuisine as well as famous landscapes recognised by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage. You can say that Vietnam has many elements that make it an attractive tourist destination in South East Asia. 

Countries are adopting different approaches to restarting their economies after the first wave of the pandemic. How will this affect travelers in terms of behavior and psychology? 

I anticipate a boom in domestic tourism, which is why “staycations” have become a trend. Outdoor activities, such as going to the beach and exploring nature are also popular. 

By the end of April, we began to notice that Vietnam was one of the first markets to recover. A large portion of bookings made on our platform came from domestic holidaymakers. Favorite destinations include Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, as well as resorts such as Nha Trang, Dalat and Phu Quoc. In the upcoming months, if the pandemic is contained, we predict that this trend will accelerate.

What role will technology play in the future of the tourism industry?

As more and more people are using apps when traveling, technology companies are provided with the perfect motivation to up their 4.0 game and really push research and development. 

Free cancelation policies along with discounted prices will encourage people to travel more. Honest reviews will continue to play an important role in planning trips. Finally, places that can guarantee safety and can provide accurate information about their hygiene standards will come out victorious.

How does Booking.com use technology to analyse user behaviour and serve customers at every stage?

Booking.com continuously experiments with various applications to provide all-inclusive experiences: 

(1) expanding the scope of our machine learning models;

(2) further developing the hugely successful Booking Assistant tool;

 (3) focusing on direct messaging and self-service to facilitate direct communication between the user and the owner/manager of the accommodation.

Booking 3

Today, most of our customers come into contact with machine learning technology, and we expect that about 50% of all bookings will have a deep interaction with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in the near future. 

What advice would you give businesses in the tourism industry to remain competitive?

Upgrade search platforms to optimize user experience. For example:

  • Adding filters to provide appropriate and accurate search results that match the guests’ needs such as type of accommodation, travel time, local attractions and facilities. 
  • Offering attractive deals, flexible rates and free cancelation policy. At Booking.com, we have the Genius Program, which offers a 10% discount on selected hotels and villas, for example.
  • Being transparent about your hygiene standards and safety features.

Bang Di — Actress and singer 

Bang Di
“I am not after overly professional videos or photos. What is important is that my content conveys the spirit of a destination and serves as an inspiration for the young people to get out and see the world.” | Source: Bang Di

What vacation trends are going to emerge before the end of 2020? 

I think that in the near future, the trend will be to reconnect with nature. With the increasing awareness of the environmental issues, travelers will turn to nature to reconnect with their inner-selves and to appreciate the beauty of our planet. Moreover, camping and trekking are more affordable so the young people who are itching to go exploring can do so on a budget.

Adventure trips are popular with young people in search of thrills. What is your take on this trend?

Before joining the Amazing Race Vietnam, my idea of the perfect holiday was poolside relaxation. I always thought that active travel would “kill” me. After the competition, however, I realized that the main values of being adventurous are connecting with like-minded people and overcoming your fears. 

I had the opportunity to go trekking in Nam Cat Tien National Park and most recently went on a trip to explore the Tu Lan caves in Quang Binh province. The Tu Lan trip that happened to fall on my birthday was recorded and later uploaded to YouTube in dedication to all those who love me and who are passionate about trekking.

Bang Di
"If previously we chose to escape to modern resorts, in the post-pandemic era nature will be where new discoveries will be made." | Source: Bang Di

As an influencer, how will you continue to promote local destinations? 

By the mere act of traveling and sharing my adventures with my followers. Every new destination is an opportunity to tell an authentic story, especially if it’s an under-the-radar local spot. I hope to inspire armchair travelers to follow me to see Vietnam’s hidden gems.

Matthew Mai (Matttux) — Travel blogger 

Matttux
Source: Matttux.

What vacation trends are going to emerge before the end of 2020?

2020 has changed how Vietnamese travel. Overseas trips have given way to domestic holidays, and I don’t expect this to change in the next year or so.

Luckily, Vietnam has so many beautiful natural spots that we will never run out of places to visit. Two of the largest caves in the world, Son Doong and Pygmy, have seen tourist numbers soar. In the north, the rice harvest season attracts large crowds, while Ha Giang is famous for its buckwheat flower fields and Moc Chau’s blooming plum trees are another popular attraction.

Adventure trips are popular with young people in search of thrills. What is your take on this trend?

Personally, I never thought I would go on an adventure holiday. But with every new destination, I find myself changing my mind a bit more. The further I travel, the further I want to go. I became braver over time. 

At the start of last year, my friends and I succeeded in completing one of the four hardest trekking routes in the Tay Bac region: the route to Hang Te Cho waterfall in Yen Bai. Between last year and the beginning of this year, within three days, I conquered the Pygmy Caves. The more I push myself and test my limits, the more motivated I am to face the challenges in life. 

Matttux
"The more I push myself and test my limits, the more motivated I am to face the challenges in life."

The industry is becoming increasingly more reliant on digital tools to promote domestic travel. What role does technology play in your travel experience? 

The 4.0 digital era had made everything more convenient. Just by going online, you can search and find everything you’re looking for, from hiring transportation, reserving homestay to finding great local food spots. 

As an influencer, how will you continue to promote local destinations? 

I have been around the world, but of course no place is as beautiful as home. There are still so many unexplored places in Vietnam, therefore I hope that every step I take will leave an impression on my readers and followers. 

I will continue to share my short travel stories and opinions with people that I meet. I hope that this will help promote new and interesting local tourist destinations, as well as help me retain all the memories I have made so that I will be able to look back fondly on my life.