Comment: This year will bring a new era of travel

Chris Ross of airport lounge experience provider Collinson says it’s time to look to the future with optimism after the international rebound of travel

The exploration of the trends shaping the travel industry today is a must. It is no secret how unprecedented the last few years in travel have been, challenging every aspect of how we explore the world, and we should all stay focused on how these trends can shift the travel experience.

Now that international travel has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, and global travel is just 5% off the 2019 travel peak, we can look to the future of the industry once more. Whether this is AI in travel or a shift towards personalised loyalty programmes, this year will be a memorable one for many reasons.

Consumers will increasingly seek and prioritise experiences that align with their lifestyles and values, from wellness retreats to sporting events, adventure and sustainable travel, the experience seekers will drive sustainable growth across these niche travel segments. To service these needs travel brands and destinations, need to leverage tools, consumer segmentation and personalisation to deliver an experience that matters to today’s consumer.

Transforming the travel experience with AI

In the evolving landscape of travel, the new year will bring an era marked by the prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) into the travel industry. AI is poised to change the future of travel as we know it by increasingly meeting traveller demands, from customer service and planning to flight booking and trip itineraries. With modern technology and algorithms, platforms can now create personalised itineraries based on an individual’s preferences, ensuring a tailored experience for each traveller.

With the AI industry already worth an astounding £81 billion, travellers are increasingly relying on this to provide them with information, assistance, activities, language translations and intervention in real-time. Providing a more accessible experience for travellers that’s centred around the customer. With an expected growth of 35% before 2030, the future of travel is in the hands of human thoughts and artificial intelligence alike, however, the technology that we are so dumbfounded by will play an integral part in our journeys in 2024 and beyond.

Earning Customer Loyalty

In a world with an incredible range of choice, the question of customer loyalty looms large. To excel in today’s competitive landscape, full-service loyalty programmes must be underpinned by strategies that deliver exceptional value to customers.

Cutting-edge technology is indispensable for understanding and predicting customer behaviour, ensuring each interaction is personalised. The overarching customer experience must be immersive and consistent, leaving a lasting impression that creates emotional connections and encourages loyalty. Strategic partnerships should be leveraged to augment the programme’s offerings, providing customers with an array of benefits that extend beyond the core product or service.

Finally, a feedback loop is crucial for the programme’s vitality, offering insights that drive continuous improvement and show customers that their voices are heard and valued. This mix of strategy, technology, partnerships, experience, and feedback creates a loyalty programme that not only retains customers but turns them into brand advocates.

Customer engagement and loyalty could be seen as a near-impossible mountain to climb in an age where options are endless, particularly within the travel industry. However, with the right approach, keeping the customer at the heart of your offering, and leaning into the things that matter to today’s consumer, brands can start to thrive.

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