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Digital Platforms Boosting the Tourism Sector "Swift, agile, and accurate," is the simplest three-word definition of digitalization which is redefining the businesses, and lifestyle of people around the globe

By Nishant Jain

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Digitization has minimized the gap between places and people, and the tourism sector is one of the top beneficiaries of this revolutionary technology. Although not all the travel companies in India offer online services, 35 per cent of travellers prefer online holidays booking. For these tech-savvy people, where to go, how to go, and what is required to go is no more a tedious task as online travel platforms cater to every need of a traveller; from accommodation to adventure sports. To meet the changing needs of smart travellers, travel companies are rendering smart solutions in the form of exciting packages on digital/online marketplaces.

From Brick-and-Mortar to Brick-and-Click

Digital platforms are rapidly disrupting the tour and travel industry. They offer global access to travellers and equip travel companies with the latest marketing and quality control tools. On the one hand, customers have more options and better choices, and on the other hand, service providers have better opportunities to engage and understand their target audience. Amidst, these developments the industry is flourishing leaps and bounds, and many big companies in India are expecting four-times more customer queries from online platforms than offline ones. On average, the majority of travel operators secure 300 to 400 per cent more business revenue after going online.

According to WTTC, the travel and tourism industry is the second-largest contributor to the world's GDP, and online platforms are playing a pivotal role in this growth. High penetration of smartphones is further boosting the industry with the phenomenal growth of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) where 45 per cent bookings come online. Also, as per the data shared by World Economic Forum (WEF), between 2016 and 2025, digitalization in aviation and tourism sectors is expected to add US$305 billion of value to the industry, out of which US$100 billion will come from online platforms only. Furthermore, the recent report by eMarketer conveys that global digital travel sales rose by 11.7 per cent in 2017 to nearly US$613 billion, and it will rise up to US$855 by 2021. These figures help in understanding how rapidly the business is shifting from brick-and-mortar to the virtual market.

Clicking on Convenience

With the onset of digitalization, travel has not only becomes easier for people but readily available, too. Digitally transformed travel companies are serving everything through websites and mobile apps. From visa processing to currency exchange, they provide a complete holiday package, and all the details can be checked by simply clicking on the relevant tabs. Earlier, people used to travel to selective or commonplaces, but after digitalization, less explored destinations are also enticing the travellers. Offbeat choices like volcano eruption sites, staying in an ice hotel, and sailing to Antarctica on the cruise have turned imagination into reality.

Now, personalized search is in the hands of consumers and everything is just a click away; people can easily book flight tickets, hotels, sightseeing, and even virtual tours of the attraction to be visited is possible beforehand to make smart decisions about it without paying any extra penny on computer/mobile screens. After acquiring substantial information from online sources, people have become more serious and concerned about their likes & dislikes, which help them to gain maximum satisfaction from a planned trip. Travel has become so easy that even senior citizens and differently-abled people are not afraid of covering long distances.

Conclusion

Who other than a globetrotter can better understand the digitalization of the travel industry and how the technology is enriching the entire travel experience with more customized, comfortable, and convenient trips in and outside the country. The adoption of digital technology is helping the industry to understand customers' demands and adding more value to their packages. Consequently, influenced by changing paradigms, the industry is celebrating its heydays and the road ahead is going to a prosperous future.

Nishant Jain

CEO, Rising Star Tours and Travels

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