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Why Travel Companies Are No More Than Destination Managers, a Report by Accenture

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What: Accenture has published a report on the new travel trends to keep an eye on as 2018 unfolds.
Why it matters: As the world changes and technology advances at an accelerated rate, travel-industry players need to be aware of the new customers' needs and be ready for some fierce competition.

For the third consecutive year, Accenture has shared its report on the main themes that will become a trend in the travel industry as 2018 unfolds. Experts at Accenture Interactive for Travel have analyzed what's next in the industry and, as it happened in previous years, they have found interesting and disrupting new trends to watch, which even if we could have expected, we surely need to be ready for. The key takeaways from the report further examined below, touch the foundations of travel: customers ask for improved experiences, brands need to declare their alliances in order to provide those experiences (without losing the human factor from sight), and we need to bear in mind that the world is changing.

Travel Experiences are Becoming Modular

The first trend explored by this year's Accenture travel report speaks of how consumers have higher expectations than ever. As tools and resources get better, consumers don't see why their travel experience couldn't be as flexible as the world is. Airport lounges, hotel rooms…, they are stages of their trip, or as Accenture calls them, "modules" that help create a personalized experience. The challenge is that, as the concept of luxe evolves and adapts to each individual consumer, brands need to accommodate to personal expectations in order to provide a really satisfying travel experience.

The way to make it happen, according to the report, is using new technologies such as biometrics, which can help analyze customer's sentiments: "Smart rooms, for example, detect the guests mood to provide the service they need in real time, not based on past data. And with virtual reality, a person can travel without leaving their room."

Brands Have to Decide Whether to Become Allies or Enemies

"Travel has become a kind of battlefield where brands either attract or repel each other", says Accenture. "They must identify which position they hold so they can define a strategy and survive the battle." Consumer expectations, the new modular architecture, and the new trend of "superbrands" are three forces shaping a new travel ecosystem, similar to a magnetic field where brands need to "come together to meet the growing demands of travelers." According to each brand's strategies, firms can either get together or get ready for battle, but they should all keep in mind that the travelers should be the top priority and design a strategy according to today's realities.

Travel Firms Need to Be Destination Management Companies

As the world goes increasingly crazier, travel-industry players need to adapt to the series of circumstances that play a part in the consumer's minds when they prepare to choose a destination. Things like terrorism and tourism-phobia are factors that make it necessary for travel companies to recur to a new way of measuring destinations: the Traveler Risk Tolerance Index. To quote the report, "They would essentially become destination management companies (DMC), responding to tourists new need to become familiar with a variety of options, allowing them to make the best destination choice." By interpreting the external factors travelers are concerned with, companies can actually earn the consumer's trust.

When Quantifying Customers, Keep the Human Factor in Mind

Today's obsession with measuring everything is leading to a tendency to transform customers into rough numbers. However, says Accenture, travelers' expectations point clearly toward the human factor. As technology's command over private lives increases, so does the need for transparency between brands and customers. The future is technological, but it should also be more human precisely for that reason. Thus, in using new technologies, brands are forced to fulfill the expectations that come with this use of technology. "We, as travelers, still demand love," says Accenture. "Even if interactions happen via technology. Create tech with soul."

To overcome 2018's trends, Accenture summarizes what needs to be done:

  • Design an experience package based on relevant modules throughout the customer's journey.
  • Look for alliances with other brands to win the battle.
  • Adapt to each traveler's Risk Tolerance Index.
  • Don't lose sight of the human factor when getting lost in all that data.

The world is changing, why shouldn't we?

Janet Grynberg @grynberg_janet

Janet has worked as editor and translator since 2013. After graduating with honors when receiving her Bachelor's Degree in English literature, she began working as a book reviewer for Expansión, the leading business magazine in Mexico. She has also worked as editor of young adult literature for publishing houses like Planeta and Penguin, and she's the author of a book of short stories. She's in the process of getting her MA in English at McGill University. Her interests include arts, good food, and her 8 pets.

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