Article | May 5, 2023
As COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the globe, tourism-dependent regions are suffering exponentially. The continent of Africa is one glaring example, with South Africa propelled into the global top 10 for coronavirus infections, reportedly now surpassing the United Kingdom in cases. For its part, the tourism and industrial sectors in North Africa will likely be hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the African Development Bank’s 2020 edition North Africa Economic Outlook report.
Even as Africa contends with pandemic concerns, there are still throngs of travelers who are keen to visit the region in the near future. Many are doing diligence to discern if, when and how to go about scheduling a trip to this tourism hotspot.
To help spotlight some top-line issues, I turned to entrepreneur and philanthropist Jay Cameron, Executive Director of Maximum Impact Travel. As one of the leading global experts on Africa travel and commerce, Cameron’s insights are invaluable as travelers deal with this tumultuous situation, helping ensure they plan smartly in the post-pandemic era.
MK: What are the key do’s and don’ts when traveling to Africa amid COVID-19?
JC: Surprisingly, some African countries have escaped the devastating impacts COVID-19 has caused globally. While other countries around the world have experienced often overwhelming consequences as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, much of Africa appears to have been spared. Even so, the statistics do not suggest the citizens of the countries of Africa have not felt its impact. The fact is, many countries in Africa are seeing regular increases in the numbers of those infected by the novel coronavirus, while much of the world is experiencing a decline in infections.
Around the world, experts warn outbreaks of COVID-19 in Africa may continue, resulting in a higher rate of deaths due to the limited local health services available. With coronavirus worries come fears of potential famine due to the virus threat, in combination with existing drought conditions and ongoing conflicts.
With this in mind, should you intend to travel to the continent now, or post-COVID-19, you should be prepared. Some good preparedness ideas include researching virus statistics in the country you wish to visit that, for one, you can review at AfricaNews.com. It is also advisable to learn if said country has any travel restrictions, which is information that is accessible online via at CDC.gov. Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle to boost immunity before and during your visit is also key.
MK: Should travelers be ready to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, either before departing or upon arrival?
JC: African countries are now opening for foreign travelers, but this does not indicate the belief that they have won the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Most African countries are still battling with COVID-19 outbreaks, as the number of infected cases continues to rise daily in nearly every African country. To this end, stringent efforts are in place to ensure individuals arriving on the continent and entering various countries are free of the virus.
With this in mind, you should be prepared to present proof of negative COVID-19 status before entering the country to which you are traveling. This measure is being implemented around the globe and the countries of Africa are no exception.
In the same vein, departing any African country will require the same proof of negative COVID-19 status. Both mandates are in place to protect your fellow travelers on the flight as well as the residents of the country to which you are traveling. As things ebb and flow, you can check the status of this mandate online at AfricaTravelInc.com.
MK: What would you suggest about localized regulations?
JC: Travelers must research the localized regulations and requirements with respect to hotel and resorts, airports, ground transportation, public spaces and such for both their own country and their destination.. It is necessary that you understand departure rules from your country of origin, and even more important that you understand your destination country’s prevailing laws for foreign travelers regarding COVID-19. Some African countries like Tanzania and Zambia, for example, have mandated the use of face masks in public places with punishment for the contravention of such laws. Some hotels and resorts also have taken stringent measures and issued their own strict requirements for travelers arriving from foreign countries. For example, at this time, hotel bars in Rwanda are closed but the hotels themselves remain open.
Researching and understanding these laws before traveling enables you to stay safe during your visit and steer clear of legal issues with the local authorities. A helpful resource for staying up-to-date on laws that might affect travel to Africa can be found at Travel.State.gov.
MK: What about the airlines, specifically?
JC: Investigate the requirements for your airline as each carrier has varied responses to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, most airlines have adopted measures to keep their passengers and their staff safe. While some airlines like Delta require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding your flight, others provide testing before your flight and attach the result to your ticket. Therefore, to ensure you are able to fly when scheduled, it is your responsibility to know the requirements of your airline before the flight to avoid any issues. A good resource for this is Go2Africa.com.
MK: Should tourists be prepared for temperature screenings and COVID-19 tests upon arrival and departure?
JC: As pointed out earlier, many African countries are still battling the pandemic, so to keep the residents of their countries safe post-COVID-19, airports have been mandated to request test results or test passengers on-site. Therefore, when traveling, you should be prepared for a coronavirus test upon arrival or departure from any African country. If you refuse to allow this, you will not be able to fly.
MK: What about a potential 14-day quarantine upon arrival—is that only for travelers who show signs of COVID-19?
JC: Apart from testing, be prepared for a 14-day quarantine if you show signs of the virus or test positive during a test given at the airport. African countries are determined to ensure the pandemic is eliminated completely from their countries. If you show symptoms of the virus upon your arrival in any country in Africa, you will likely be quarantined for 14 days. This can even entail having to stay in the country instead of returning to the U.S.
MK: Would you say that travel insurance is an imperative?
JC: Make sure your travel insurance company offers COVID-19 coverage and arrange for COVID-19 travel insurance requirements from airlines. You will want to be insured by your travel insurance company for COVID-19 coverage before traveling to any African country. Check with your travel insurance company to ensure COVID-19 is covered under their insurance policy, in the event you need to change your travel plans due to the pandemic. Such coverage policy can protect you by covering expenses related to unexpected changes and/or medical care in the event of illness.
MK: With any trip, but especially now, there can be unforeseen circumstances. Any insights on that front?
JC: DO NOT travel without extra funds and the ability to extend your trip in the event of a quarantine. With the points mentioned above, there is a great likelihood you will be required to spend more time and money in the country to which you are traveling if your COVID-19 test is positive. As a result, it is advisable to travel only if you are prepared with time and financial contingency plans. However, African countries are not barring U.S. travelers at the same rate as other countries, meaning you can potentially realize your dream safari vacation or other adventure across the continent’s beaches, jungles and deserts.
As the world contends with COVID-19 issues, African countries will endeavor to stay open for tourism, business and much more. Preparing for, and abiding by, the region’s travel requirements will make your journey and overall stay in the country more enjoyable and safer for all.
Article | July 4, 2023
2020 flatlined travel opportunities, opportunities of the tourism industry and hit the global travel industry due to the pandemic. Due to this, many changes in the travel and tourism industry are witnessed today and shall be so in the upcoming years. Many travel industry leaders faced hardship in navigating through the crisis. For them, it was like sailing through a hurricane. As the pandemic's effect hasn't completely faded, the businesses in the tourism sector are trying harder to keep their companies above the water. They have maintained a positive approach to surviving this tough phase and focused on long-term growth.
On the other hand, some businesses responded optimistically to the damage caused by the pandemic. They have positively adapted to new opportunities that emerged in the travel industry and experienced success. Such an incident illustrates the travel industry's potential. Yet, the industry has to chart many ways to overcome this challenging time.
The emerging tourism trends have created a ton of opportunities for travel businesses to reshape. Nevertheless, some travel and tourism industry changes have evolved because of a shift in operational dynamics due to the pandemic's effect. It also changed several tourism events worldwide. Many business travel trends, which received attention before the pandemic, are being less considered now. In contrast, some business travel trends have become vital on the corporate travel businesses' end. Therefore, whatever aspect of the tourism sector your business is involved in, you need to keep your finger on the pulse. The current opportunities in the travel industry can be beneficial for your business. It is all because of technology and its advantages. To learn about it, this article provides a list of the latest opportunities in the travel industry for 2021.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is one technological advancement that has increased opportunities in the travel industry, mainly travel for business opportunities. Today, businesses in the tourism sector are using many technology devices and tools. One of them is chatbots, which use AI to automate and streamline all sales and marketing tasks. Chatbots provide a wealth of information about monitoring data analytics, lead generation, bookings, automated travel assistance, and more.
AI algorithms are a crucial aspect of maintaining efficiency in the future of the travel industry. Sophisticated AI is becoming vital for airports. With such development, airports will use visually enabled analysis supported by AI-based recommendations. It will improve operational efficiency for all businesses in the tourism sector to work effortlessly. With such developments, AI is gaining prominence under the current trends in the global tourism industry.
Internet of Things (IoT)
As IoT has already gained recognition in the technology world, it is becoming one of the emerging trends in the tourism industry by bringing in various travel opportunities. In 2021, businesses in the tourism market will see the potential of IoT as it will mature the existing network of data-producing devices. Examples of IoT technologies are robotics, autonomous vehicles, virtual agents, and machine learning. Since the pandemic addressed immediate needs like sanitization, social distancing, and automation, IoT gave rise to several opportunities in the travel industry simultaneously.
IoT initiated the concept of contactless travel. This provides travelers with all the booking information in a single click and offers automated accommodations with controlled systems, voice commands, and more. In the case of point, Amazon introduced a hospitality-oriented version of Alexa virtual assistant. The addition of Alexa will continue to be an important travel industry trend. It has introduced many business opportunities in the travel industry; some are instant booking services and travel assistance. These gained immense prominence when the travel industry resumed its operations after less impact of the pandemic. This trend is set to fetch more and more opportunities in the travel industry in 2021.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality has been a useful tool for many businesses in the tourism sector. Virtual reality offered unique types of tourism events worldwide with virtual tours of accommodation to business travelers from their homes. In this way, it gave transparency to the accommodation and its look before arriving. A host of low-cost VR devices such as the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear headset were used in the initial stage when the travel industry was still resuming from the global pandemic and travel business opportunities were rising.
VR technology benefits businesses as one of the most desired business travel trends during the decision-making phase, especially during a pandemic like COVID-19. It will ensure all the travel processes to take place safely and in smarter ways in the future of the travel industry. While many promising opportunities in the travel industry are emerging, it’s already speculated that businesses in the tourism sector will set VR as one of the most used travel industry trends for 2021.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is also becoming one of the most influential technologies in the travel industry. It opens several doors of opportunities in the travel industry. It offers a convenient way for marketers to give business travelers a taste of what they can expect. The technology highlights a digital version of accommodations, videos, 360-degree views of locations, vehicles, and more. During the pandemic, some travel companies took a step further by offering exceptional booking process through AR technology to their employees. A growing number of companies are at an experimental stage with AR headsets and finding them useful. Using this, companies have started offering many travel opportunities, making it more advanced and safer than what was before the pandemic. The technology is offering many opportunities in the travel industry, along with applications.
The concept of personalization is also one of the growing travel industry trends. Today, many travel businesses are offering personalized options for making travel plans as per personal preferences. It includes accommodations, flight booking, car rentals, and other such amenities. Personalization introduced many opportunities in the travel industry for marketing as well. It uses data of travelers to promote and advertise personally and shows information about a prior purchase or a list that you checked out at a particular time.
For example, bd4travel is providing an AI platform to transform travel websites. Using artificial intelligence with machine learning, bd4travel works with online travel companies. They deliver individual buying experiences in real-time. All these were possible because bd4travel adapted the latest opportunities of personalization. This became relevant in the travel industry during this pandemic. Personalization also brought several travel business opportunities and gained prominence. Thus, it is predicted to spread in the future, like other opportunities in the travel industry.
Recognition technology has also brought some vital opportunities in the travel industry. It introduced some of the best high-tech identification tools such as face recognition, fingerprint, and other biometric methods. Face recognition technology is currently being used to identify potential threats. Its usage in the tourism business has improved security systems and increased reliability. In November 2020, SITA announced a trial with Etihad. The employees completed all check-in procedures for corporate travelers within minutes and conducted security processes through their mobile devices. It replaced in-person check-ins with identity cards as a form of authentication.
The recognition technology also introduced voice control opportunities in the travel industry. Voice control technology initiates spoken commands services in airports as well as hotel rooms.
The future of the travel industry will soar because of emerging self-service opportunities. Corporate travel companies will offer contactless, faster, easier, and flexible services. In this case, robotic technology will become the center stage of the latest travel business opportunities and trends. Various accommodations, check-in, and check-out services at airports will witness extensive use of robotic technology. Business travelers will also find the optimum use of this technology during their stays. Robot technology has made an important way for businesses in the tourism sector as it introduced many new travel opportunities that never existed (not even before the pandemic).
Cyber Security Enhancement
Cybersecurity is one of the emerging travel industry trends and introduced the most demanding opportunities in the travel industry. The pandemic increased the risks of cyberattacks. Due to this, data have become vulnerable and can cause damage to tourism events worldwide. As travel companies employ many people and may have access to plenty of data, the marketers will have to enhance cybersecurity measures.
Some of the biggest threats in this area include phishing attacks and ransomware attacks. To prevent these types of threats, you will have to invest in cybersecurity training, include various hardware and software solutions to keep your business safe. Cybersecurity has brought many promising opportunities in the travel industry. So, the opportunities in the travel industry for cybersecurity will uncover its potential and help companies work efficiently.
Travel opportunities, along with big data, are evolving and will triumph in the future of the travel industry. In a modern business model in the tourism market, big data has played a pivotal role. One of the biggest uses for this data is to improve personalization. As more travel business opportunities have evolved, it has helped employees gather information about corporate travel within minutes. In this way, big data boosted many other opportunities in the travel industry. It will prosper through the pandemic scenario and the future of the travel industry.
Another valuable use of big data has helped to analyze current business performance. For example, hotel owners can use big data for revenue management purposes and expect travelers' demand. So, a predictable demand can optimize pricing and promotional strategies.
Embracing the latest travel trends is vital for companies to be successful in the travel and tourism sector. Adopting some of these travel trends as a part of your business model can open more doors of opportunities in the travel industry in 2021.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the opportunities in tourism industry?
The opportunities in the travel industry range broadly in sectors like transportation services, tour operation services, accommodation, travel agencies, tour operation services, and hospitality.
How are trends changing the travel industry?
The latest trends that are changing the travel industry are majorly in terms of technology and the high involvement of the internet. Along with that, the proliferation of budget airlines and affordability are also other trends changing the travel industry.
What are the six segments of the travel industry?
The six segments of the travel industry include:
"name": "What are the opportunities in tourism industry?",
"text": "The opportunities in the travel industry range broadly in sectors like transportation services, tour operation services, accommodation, travel agencies, tour operation services, and hospitality."
"name": "How are trends changing the travel industry?",
"text": "The latest trends that are changing the travel industry are majorly in terms of technology and the high involvement of the internet. Along with that, the proliferation of budget airlines and affordability are also other trends changing the travel industry."
"name": "What are the six segments of the travel industry?",
"text": "The six segments of the travel industry include:
Article | August 28, 2023
“I believe that augmented reality will be the biggest technological revolution that happens in our lifetimes.”
– Tim Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Epic Games
Augmented reality (AR) has proved to be a significant concept in tourism and hospitality management in the past few years. It allows us to enhance the physical environment and enhance the experience of exploring the surrounding area.
According to Grand View Research, the global market for augmented reality was worth USD 25.33 billion in 2021. From 2022 to 2030, the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.9%.
As things keep pace with digitalization and this generation seeks quick and efficient yet reliable methods, every sector widely uses the application of augmented reality.
According to Hospitality Tech, the market size of augmented reality will reach $198 billion by 2025, and the hotel business will be one of the key contributors to this income target. Effectively, Starwood, Marriott and Holiday Inn are already making a difference in the travel and hospitality industry by leveraging this technology. An investment in AR brings a lot of change in business revenue for both small hoteliers and prominent hotel tycoons.
AR Improve Customer Experience for Travel and Hospitality
Redefine the customer experience with augmented reality in the tourism industry. AR-based travel apps help businesses enhance their services and offer personalized experiences to their customers. By adding interactive hotel features that make the space more fun, you can get people to visit nearby attractions.
Utilizing CX to maintain and expand a client base produces a terrific asset that positively affects ROI. CX effectively boosts customer lifetime value (LTV), which can become self-perpetuating.
Companies that excel at CX and customer-centricity are 60% more profitable and generate 5.7% more revenue than those that don't.
Ideas for Implementing AR in the Tourism and Hotel Industry
AR is utilized chiefly via smartphones and offers many options concerning interactive experiences.
AR in Excursions & Travel Attractions
AR technology may be a terrific marketing tool for guiding first-time guests through the hotel and a great way to retain customers and provide more engaging experiences.
With the application of augmented reality software, a standard tourist map comes to life. Moreover, AR technology enables clients to examine points of interest, restaurants, and other businesses. Your hotel restaurant may even use augmented reality to let customers explore the menu and ingredients in a new way by showing them 3D versions of the meals on their phones.
If you have a travel mobile app with AR, you can point out the transportation objects to get the best possible directions, travel route, next destination, and places to travel to. Pokemon Go shows one such example of how you can use modern digital technologies to make the travel experience even better. It became the first popular augmented reality game. This AR app brought players out into the street and made them move and travel a lot.
Scadi is one such AR app in travel for visitors of Alpine ski resorts. It uses advanced algorithms to create the most comfortable, safe and exciting routes for skiers and snowboarders.
Integrates with other technology
Using augmented reality in conjunction with other technologies such as beacon technology allows your hotel to more efficiently promote to visitors and upsell through push notifications. For example, through push notifications, hotels may give partner companies special offers or discounts, and vice versa, partner businesses can advertise the hotel.
Hospitality Industry Must Make Room for AR for Better ROI
In a post-pandemic context, the travel and hotel industries embrace technological advancements that enhance visitor experiences, eventually boosting corporate income and reducing operating expenses. Utilizing interactive technologies like AR, VR, and other interactive technologies increases operational efficiency, productivity, and ROI.
By using augmented reality with CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) or EAM, you gain more understanding (Enterprise Asset Management). Augmented reality can assist facility managers in boosting the efficiency of their engineers and reducing the expense of ensuring their safety.
AR will assist them in increasing their revenue by reducing their maintenance expenses. Using AR-based product models, the hospitality industry is gaining a significant competitive edge, resulting in faster sales cycles.
During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, Holiday Inn introduced one of the first uses of Augmented Reality in a hotel setting.
The experiences used picture recognition and chroma video. The program identified hotel locations and activated athlete video footage, merging real and virtual components. This Holiday Inn use case shows how hotels may leverage AR to develop unique guest experiences around local events. In addition, the campaign helped promote the hotel and bolster its status as the official hotel for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Hub Hotel from Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in the United Kingdom, is one of the few places to have adopted the AR technology back in 2016. The hotel provided a wall map of the local region in each room. Tourists could use their smartphones to read information about local areas of interest by pointing them at a wall.
The benefits of augmented reality in the travel and hospitality industries are immense. AR is a potent tool for increasing company potential and returns on investment. Utilizing innovative technology boosts your hotel's exposure and brand awareness while propelling it into the digital age. Augmented reality in the tourism industry truly sets you apart from the competition.
How is augmented reality changing the travel & tourism industry?
Augmented reality helps hotels enhance the physical locations they are attempting to attract visitors to, such as hotel rooms and local attractions.
What is digital transformation in the hospitality industry?
Digital transformation refers to how companies restructure themselves to adapt and modify their corporate culture to empower innovations that utilize technology and propel their enterprises to new levels of growth.
What are the benefits of augmented reality?
Creates unique customer experiences
Reduces cognitive overload
Article | June 2, 2022
The travel industry is reviving. Tourist spots across the globe are packed with excited explorers. Though it feels like everything is going back to normal, the way people travel has changed. The hospitality tech revolution is making mundane tasks easier and the customer experience richer.
Most travelers prefer self-service over waiting to be served. Online planning and bookings have picked up pace, so have contact-less check-in and 24/7 digital concierge. Hotels must swiftly meet these evolving demands or risk losing in the race. They must incorporate technology into their day-to-day operations to eliminate human error, increase their service efficiency, and, above all, offer an outstanding customer experience.
One of the technology trends reshaping the travel and hospitality industry is digital concierge—hotel chatbots that bring the concierge desk into the palm of a guest’s hand. Convenient, right?
A Sneak Peak into Hotel Chatbots
Hotel chatbots are software applications that communicate with your hotel’s website page visitors and resolve their queries. They are either programmed to behave a certain way or can be AI-powered. Programmed chatbots are configured to answer a limited set of questions. However, they can collect visitor information so your customer executives can get in touch with prospects to resolve their queries or provide them with booking assistance.
On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots use NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning) to analye human behaviour and accordingly answer questions.
Digital Concierge Brings in Conversions
Personalized communication forms the crux of customer experience. A desired, non-intrusive interaction between a guest and a chat bot can create strong engagement and help the guest to make a booking at your hotel. In such cases, the bot will forward the booking inquiries directly into the IBE (Internet Booking Engine) and strengthen your direct sales. 30-50% of the chatbot-prospect interactions result in IBE forwarding of booking inquiries. This statistic shows how accepting the guests are of the chatbot’s services. (Source: DialogShift, Olga Heuser)
Chatbots can also be integrated into social media platforms and instant messenger platforms so that guests can directly make bookings from a platform of their choice.
How are Hotel Chatbots Redefining CX?
Apart from bringing in revenue through direct sales, hotel chatbots also create a solid customer experience for the guests, so they don’t go home unsatisfied and give you a good review online.
Here are the ways in which they enhance the customer experience:
24/7 Availability- Chatbots promptly respond to guest queries round the clock
Multi-Lingual Support- Languages are not a barrier for them
Efficiency- They lighten your hotel staff’s load of answering guest queries
Customer Retention- They collect guest information, which helps in retention and follow-up
Brand Awareness- They are brand representatives and increase brand awareness through responsiveness
Additionally, AI- powered chatbots can also:
Highlight the hotel’s special features upon check-in
Recommend places and activities to do around the hotel with pictures and links
Request feedback from guests about services
Assist with table reservations or pool-side orders
The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Used Rose to Impress Guests
The introduction of Rose, a smart chatbot that converses with guests on The Cosmopolitan’s website, changed the game for the hotel. The bot’s playful personality wooed hotel guests. Those who made a booking directly from the website ended up spending 37% more than those who did not engage with her.
Let’s Wrap It Up
A hotel chatbot refines the concierge experience for guests through rapid response times and enhances your hotel’s AI marketing efforts. It can be an invaluable asset for hotel business owners looking to stay ahead in the race.