Embracing Digital Transformation for the Future of Travel
5 min read

Embracing Digital Transformation for the Future of Travel

The travel and tourism industry is recognised as one of the early adopters of digital transformation. The United Nations World Tourism Organization states: “as information and communications technology (ICT) became a global phenomenon, tourism was a consistent early adopter of new technologies and platforms”. This has stood the industry in good stead considering the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. No industry has experienced as much disruption due to the pandemic. Indeed, the digital nature of much of the travel sector has been a driving force behind its survival. 

In this article, we will look more closely at:

  • Travel and In-house Marketing
  • Digital Transformation and Travel
    • Mobile is King
    • Smart Destinations
    • Real-world Applications of Cognitive Computing
    • Omnichannel Sales and Marketing for the Travel Industry
  • Embracing Digital Transformation for a Brighter Future for Travel

Travel and In-House Marketing

In our State of In-Housing 2022 Report, respondents from the travel industry provide real insight into their position on in-house marketing and digital transformation in general. Furthermore, our report shows how travel is one of the sectors where full digital competency is almost the majority. 48% of respondents confirm their in-house marketing as fully digitally competent. A further 12% operate using a hybrid model combining agency and in-house marketers, while 40% have a traditional setup. This is somewhat expected in an industry known for its digital competency. Also, the travel sector is known for its forward-thinking approach to digital transformation and providing customers with effective online and mobile solutions for their customer journey.

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel sector cannot be ignored. The International Monetary Fund reports that it will take until at least 2023 for tourism receipts to return to 2019 levels. Similarly, in the first half of 2020, tourist arrivals fell by more than 65% worldwide. This has led to companies in the sector needing to approach their business in a new way. Therefore, it is understandable that 40% of travel sector respondents in our State of In-Housing Report confirmed agencies are more involved in their marketing operations. Involving outside agencies is one way a company can inject new thoughts and ideas into their business. Finding new directions for their marketing strategy is particularly important in an industry with lots of recoveries to do. Increasing their digital efforts, shifting towards a more digitised future and utilising the latest technologies have become vital for the future of the travel industry.

Digital Transformation and Travel

Travel is already at the forefront of digital transformation. Therefore, the trends that are driving it moving forward differ from those in other sectors.

Mobile is King

Mobile-first browsing and booking for holidays and related necessities are higher than ever. Data from Google shows 79% of mobile travellers completed a booking after doing research on their smartphone. They also found searching for hotels and airfares on a mobile device is as common as shopping for clothes across nine different markets. Travel businesses need to assess the mobile accessibility of their website and other online assets. 

Many brands already have a functional and regularly accessed mobile app. Their app is an effective tool for making deals and offers even more accessible for their customers. The modern consumer expects a personalised experience from their chosen tourism provider. Therefore, being fully mobile responsive and accessible is important. A well-designed mobile app creates a direct digital path to target customers and more opportunities for sales.

The key benefits of a travel app for modern travel businesses include:

  • Instant marketing tool – you can collect user data and create more targeted marketing campaigns
  • Minimise unnecessary paperwork – allowing customers to check in with ease and minimise stress
  • Deliver the best offers instantly to customers – push notifications allow customers to see offers in real time
  • Added value services – many travel apps integrate with other service providers such as taxi or train booking providers, adding value and convenience to the customer’s journey

Smart Destinations

IGI Global define smart destinations as locations “that adopt an interactive/participative management style and aims to enhance the residents’ and tourists’ quality of life by using ICTs and other technologies for data collection, storage, exchange, and processing.” 

Smart locations incorporate every element required to satisfy travellers throughout the tourism life cycle. These smart destinations consider local and visitor requirements with planning tourism and consider important factors such as peak seasons, cultural impact, and multilingualism. Travel operators control and manage smart destinations and offer a seamless experience for tourists without significant impact on the local community and resources. They are achieved through close data analysis and fact-based decision-making, all powered by software and innovative technologies. For example, key features of a modern, smart destination include:

  • An online travel marketplace
  • Self-guided itineraries 
  • Augmented and virtual reality experiences
  • Live chat and chatbots


Many cities around the world are updating their infrastructure to incorporate smart features and make them even more attractive to visitors. Our client, Melia Hotels International, is a fine example of smart travel technologies in action. They use Bannerflow to perform dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) creating richer ads and more personalisation, exactly what the modern consumer is looking for. 

Real-World Applications of Cognitive Computing

Cognitive computing is no longer simply science fiction. A combination of IoT, data and machine learning allows sophisticated travel companies to pre-empt the options that fit with your travel goals before you even know it. Cognitive computing is based upon historical data, previous searches, and the information a customer inputs into their profile. The most sophisticated travel tools and software can compute this information. After that, it can automatically narrow down trip options and even entire packages without input from the customer. This technology is at the higher end of an IT professional’s capabilities. Therefore, companies committed to digital transformation in this direction will need to be ready for significant investment to achieve success with cognitive computing. 

Omnichannel Sales and Marketing for the Travel Industry

The travel and tourism industry has always relied upon collaboration. No single company provides every element of a package. Instead, many come together and broker deals with each other to succeed and offer their customers the best possible trip options. In some instances, the customer is required to browse across a range of different channels before finding the right package for their needs.

An omnichannel sales and marketing model gives travel businesses a much more attractive proposition for their customers. Our State of In-Housing 2022 Report asked respondents what their top priorities for advancing their in-house strategy were. For travel, 48% of respondents said creating effective collaboration is their top priority. In an industry that relies upon working with other vendors and organisations, it makes sense that finding more effective collaboration is a key priority.

Bannerflow’s CMP delivers Real-Time Responses

COVID-19 has heightened travel companies’ awareness and understanding of collaboration and utilising effective tools such as creative management platforms (CMPs) like ours to succeed. Speaking on behalf of our client Center Parcs, Ines Coppers, Online Media Expert at Pierre et Vacances Center Parcs Group (PVCP) told us:

“With the pandemic – and working within the travel industry – we just have to watch all the changing situations very closely. For example, we need to stay agile and move immediately across our campaign creatives if our parks need to close, or if our swimming pools need to close. It’s really a case of last-minute preparing and working hard – even more so than before COVID.” 


Working with tools such as ours, our clients can be proactive and respond quickly to real-time changes in service availability, as Ines Coppers confirmed: “Fortunately using Bannerflow we can get the update live across our ads in 15 minutes.”

Blending knowledge, experiences, and budgets across different departments and even companies can lead to much better results than siloed approaches to work. Travel and tourism is not yet at pre-pandemic levels in terms of volume or value. Improved collaboration is vital for a brighter future. It is also essential for exceeding consumers’ expectations as they begin to consider booking flights and hotels again.

Embracing Digital Transformation for a Brighter Future for Travel

Digital transformation relies upon operational and cultural change and investing in the latest technologies. Our report shows that organisations across all sectors recognise the need to digitise their approach to their business and marketing. Consequently, this involves a shift in mindset and financial investment. 

The travel industry has a lot of recoveries to do due to COVID-19. It is one of the earliest known adopters of digital technologies. The future of digitisation in travel must be focused on creating seamless customer experiences through a combination of collaboration, technology, and personalisation.

Technology is the driver behind effective digital transformation and at Bannerflow we combine technology and creativity with our suite of tools. Would you like to understand more about what benefits our products can offer your travel business? Book a personalised demo with one of our experts today.

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