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Travel and Tourism Technology Trends for Africa

There’s no denying the staggering impact of the global pandemic within the travel and tourism industry, especially in Africa, which is very evident in the many technological factors affecting businesses. The insubstantial use of technology by the tourism sector within Africa presents various business technology opportunities for tourism in Africa.

It is said that investing in technology innovations will take the African tourism industry to world-class tourism. Experts also say that in order to completely exploit Africa’s tourism potential, it is providential to invest in modern technologies that are used in tourism and hospitality sectors such as the Internet, reservations systems, specific software, mobile communications and security systems. Africa has incorporated these new developments that have made traveling and sight-seeing fun and exciting.

In 2011 David Rowan, an editor of Wired Magazine wrote an article titled “Want to become an Internet billionaire? Move to Africa”. He was advocating to his readers about the great opportunities of technology development on the African continent.  Fortunately, these opportunities are still available today and the African tourism sector hasn’t yet reaped the benefits of technology.

With rising digitization and tech developments come many major changes in the travel and tourism sector. Technology is constantly evolving, and it continues to play different roles from the way trips are planned and booked, to the way travellers experience them. It provides instant information to everyone around the world, which means less dependence and use of travel agents to make recommendations and secure bookings. Nowadays, everything is readily accessible online.

FCM General Manager, Bonnie Smith, says that today’s technology is smooth, intuitive and very much in the background: “Customers and consumers don’t necessarily care about the tech, or how it works, just that it does. Seamlessly.”

Globe trotters can read travel blogs to learn about various destinations as well as search for ideal ones with use of social media while getting the best travel ideas and tips. With the help of AI, travellers can use online travel agent (OTA) sites and online directories to discover places to stay, eat, and things to do.

It was Bill Gates who said that “the advance of technology is based on ‘making it fit in’ so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” And if the latest travel tech is anything to go by, he’s 100% right.

Let’s take a good look at some of the ways that technology has changed the travel and tourism industry for both businesses and customers.

1. Touch-less Tech and Contactless Check-In

Contactless travel has also become a major trend in the industry since the start of the pandemic. This includes processes like contactless flight and hotel check-ins and contactless payments. Thanks to Covid-19, many of the latest tech advancements have been centered on contactless check-in (airlines and hotels), contactless checkout and contactless payments. Not only does it eradicate unwanted contact and frustrating queues but it’s also quick and easy – a big tick in terms of productivity.

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

We use the internet for EVERYTHING, every day! And that includes for travel purposes too. The Internet of Things (IoT) is based on interconnectivity between the devices we use every day for sending and receiving data. For example, we can use the technology in hotel rooms to control air conditioning, heaters, and even the lights without stepping out of a location. While in the airports, luggage cases may have sensors that can alert owners when they get to them.

3. Blended Travel

Blended travel is currently being welcomed by the travel industry as it includes many apparent ways that travellers are leveraging flexible and hybrid working models to work and travel at the same time.

4. Chatbots and 24-hour Support

Travel apps have come a long way, and according to Smith the best apps now combine proactive alerts, with conversational chatbots (i.e. fluid and easy to interact with) and 24-hour, human support. “Ultimately, a travel app needs to be an indispensable tool for those on the road. This means instant alerts if flight times, boarding gates and even baggage collection details change. The ability to confirm information through a handy chat bot – and the ability to be connected to a human being, any time of day or night, should you want to talk to a consultant,” says Smith. “FCM mobile blends cutting-edge tech with a human touch, because we know that after Covid, many people prefer to chat to a consultant if and when things change.”

5. Virtual Tourism & Virtual Reality (VR)

What is virtual tourism, you may ask? Directly put, virtual tourism can be described as the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets to simulate a location or experience. Over the years, virtual reality has steadily become part of our everyday activities. From home entertainment gadgets like headsets to video games, marketing to business and now, traveling.  VR has made it possible for videos and 360 degree images of destinations to be shown to tourists.

6. Robotics

The function of robots cannot be exaggerated in our world. There is hardly a part of our lives that robotic technology has not impacted. In Africa, robots have been deployed in the travel industry. It may seem like a work of fiction but many parts of the world are using robots in this field. With the support of artificially intelligent robots that have speech recognition or able to detect weapons concealed in bags, screening at airport becomes seamless.

7. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Tourism and traveling around Africa can become better with artificially intelligence in the customer care services. Instead of wasting time trying to shuffle through customer service sections, AI can deliver within seconds. Sorting data can also be made easier with AI during booking.

8. Big Data

Most of us have heard a number of people say that data is life. Many companies make use of data in dealing with their customers.  Big data improves customization or personalization of travel firms. Data can be used in quite a number of ways such as hotels in handling their revenue management area, creating promotional strategies, and pricing can be optimized when there is a predictable demand. This is what data can help a business person achieve in the travel industry.

9. Tracking, Reconciliation and Real-time Reporting

In terms of productivity, travel agents are actively looking for tech solutions that are efficient in both time and money. This includes tracking unused tickets and vouchers – and reminding travellers of the credits they have so they can use them before they expire. Bookers and travellers are also looking for easy-to-use reporting and reconciliation tools, so they can pull instant reports, identify savings and manage  budgets.

Key areas of focus that are gaining traction include offering leisure add-ons to traditional business trips, organising corporate retreats for team-building and relaxation, accommodating regular and digital nomads and freelance workers seeking unique experiences, promoting work-from-anywhere packages for location-independent professionals, and creating workcation offerings that blend work and relaxation.

By tactically tapping into these growing trends, travel operators are successfully captivated with the expanding market segment of travellers who combine work and leisure.

Africa is progressively embracing technology and we cannot wait to see how much fun our traveling will be with these phenomenal innovations.

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