Intelligence Four travel tech trends to watch in 2018: Expedia By TTG Asia / Posted on 21 February, 2018 9:54 It is not enough to keep up with the digital expectations of today’s tech-savvy consumers, Expedia says. Exceeding these expectations is a “travel industry imperative”. To help travel service providers anticipate new needs, Expedia casts the spotlight on four key trends of 2018. Chatbots could further change the way customer service is provided over the next few years AI and machine learning: chatbots become ubiquitous Expedia expects 2018 to be a year where AI, in the form of machine learning, becomes not just a futuristic technology, but an integrated and valuable everyday tool. Growing “digital impatience” among consumers and expectations for instant responses to queries and purchasing requests has driven adoption of digital assistants. According to Expedia, 62 per cent of global consumers today are comfortable with an AI application responding to their query. Chatbots are already enabling deeper and easier traveller communication, and are expanding to different mediums: chat, social channels, voice assistants and more. In addition, new tools and technologies in this space will allow hoteliers to connect with consumers in deeper and more meaningful ways. Voice: Siri and Google go mainstream Voice-enabled digital assistants are poised to not just change the travel industry, Expedia posits, but nearly every industry we touch in our lives. By 2021, there will be 7.5 billion digital assistants in the world. Digital assistants today are giving us weather and traffic information, and entertainment content – but they are also enabling us to search hotels, check the status of flights, and more. “As an industry, we need to be at the forefront of testing voice skills, and aligning with the growing traveler adoption of this technology, to ensure we’re equipped and at full performance when it becomes ubiquitous”, Arthur Chapin, senior vice president – global product and design, Expedia Group. said. Citing Business Insider UK, Expedia shared that the number of virtual digital assistant users has increased over 40 per cent from 2016 to 2017 with an estimated of 158 per cent increase from 2017 to 2021. Expedia also shared numbers from Seattle-based voice over IP carrier Speakeasy showing that nearly half of global smartphone users will use voice technology by 2020 and 47 per cent will use voice technology at least once a month. Activities booking in an experience economy With 72 per cent of consumers seeking experiences over things, Expedia said there is great opportunity to target consumers who will not just book a hotel room, but also experiences from dinner reservations, to tours and activities to entertainment. One-stop shop for packages Consumers expect a seamless, one-stop experience in nearly every area of their lives. A recent multi-generational study by Brand Expedia shows that 80 per cent of travellers find it useful to book all their trip components together, and for Gen Z, the number is massive 87 per cent. The upside for hotels is that offering rooms in “package bookings”, alongside flights and cars, typically means higher average daily rate, longer booking windows and fewer cancellations. Plus, consumers can streamline their research and booking into one seamless purchase. Package demand on Expedia generated nearly 1.4 times longer booking window when compared to standalone hotel bookings. For hoteliers, these longer stays and longer booking windows mean more opportunities for them to engage with and upsell consumers – both prior to check-in and on-property, Expedia says.