You’ve surely noticed that technology is changing the way you travel; you have no more paper tickets to worry about, you can easily book your next trip on your mobile in a few seconds and now can even chat with your friends while flying over the ocean thanks to on-board WiFi. Who would have thought, only a few years ago, that this could be real!
These examples are only some of the most palpable consequences of technology developments applied to the world of travel, things that are obvious before the eyes of travellers. However, there is much more going on in the backend that you wouldn’t probably notice that easily, especially in online travel where technology is quietly boosting personalisation while enabling seamless travel experiences.
Personalisation means making something suitable for the needs of a particular person, but to achieve that, you obviously need to know what those needs are in the first place.
Imagine the world’s population, 7.2 billion people, and multiply it by 1.6x: 12 billion. That is the amount of yearly travel searches handled by one of the world’s largest online travel companies alone. Can you imagine the amount of data that that represents? lIt is so vast that it is not humanly attainable.
Fortunately, machines reach what humans can’t and artificial intelligence is key in understanding traveller needs. With machine-based learning, a set of algorithms analyse data sets to make predictions or take actions, and computers automatically learn and adapt through experience, without human interaction. In the world of travel, that means, for example, predicting the likelihood of a traveller in need of a specific flight, accommodation or service, and automatically tailor the experience based on that predicted need.
In the online world, experiences are not just lived, but designed to be lived. When it comes to designing online meaningful experiences, data might help pointing at the ‘what’ of travellers and their needs, but it is certainly needed to take a deeper look at the underlying ‘why’ of travellers’ reasons, opinions and motivations to fully understand them.
This is where UX helps deepen traveller knowledge to champion their needs. Mixed research methodologies, quantitative (how many/how much) and qualitative (why?) work alongside each other: Data Analytics, AB testing, behavioural analytics tools such as eye-tracking devices, usability tests, creative workshops, interviews or focus groups, to mention just a few. All of these generate precious insights that are then turned into palpable solutions: the design of products and services that solve a traveller need, which results in a meaningful experience.