The Digital Traveller – Roaming in a mobile world

Posted by Emma Newman on February 20, 2015

Having recently spent 6 weeks backpacking around South East Asia, it has been practically impossible for me not to notice how technology has dramatically changed the experience of a traveller. As I sit here, taking in yet another beautiful sunset, and sip on a glass of crisp white wine, surrounded by paradise as opposed to project plans, I cant help but sit and contemplate the last six weeks of my traveling adventures around Thailand and Vietnam, and compare this with my last backpacking trip nearly 10 years ago.

You really begin to realise just how digital the world has now become when giving the public access to free WiFi to help them stay connected and organised as you travel is such a high priority, yet you don’t always have hot water and most buildings are made from bamboo!

Being unprepared and without a plan was all part of the fun way back when traveling was not as common or as accessible as it is today. Relying on the banter and sharing experiences with fellow backpackers in dorms and bars would be the main way to work out where to head to next and where to stay. Simply rocking up at a hotel or hostel, negotiating a price and hoping a room was available was how most people made sure they had a roof over their heads and did the stuff that was popular amongst fellow backpackers.

I enjoyed the freedom and the excitement that this unknown and unplanned way of travelling gave me, but with a mobile workforce management head on, I obviously recognise the disadvantages this would have in practical terms for the travel and tourism industry to manage such unknown demand, and provide a competitive service to customers, whilst maintaining their needs and expectations during their backpacking adventures.

10 years on, things are quite different. The digital era we now live in makes things completely different for the traveler and the tourist industry overall. The changes I have seen and benefited from myself, enable the travelling ‘consumer’ to really get the most out of their trip, having mobile access to plan what they want, when they want it, receiving alerts and reminders to ensure they keep track of their route.

Today’s traveller is smart, they use mobile technology to their complete advantage to ensure they get the best prices, with smart self learning technology that enhances the experience even further, learning what you like as a traveller, supporting tours, route and hotel suggestions that align with your preferences as a traveller.

Today’s traveller’s are no longer armed with just their backpacks, their mobile device has become a crucial part of their traveller’s toolkit…..from flight bookings to check in, hotel reservations, review forums and blogs to transport booking and tourist trips… To top this off, communication apps keep people in touch without charge.

The bottom line is that today’s digital traveller’s have information and power at their fingertips to guide them seamlessly around the world, which has an even greater impact on those seeking to serve the travelling tourists. It essentially replaces the unknown demand with very predictable and well understood demand which subsequently enables travel and tourism operators to be far more successful, operate in a much more optimal way, fulfilling demand as effectively as possible. From airlines and transport to hotel accommodation and local tourist trips. Organisations are able to be far more competitive, they are able to meet demands and sustain credibility with the consumer, keeping business healthy and manageable.

It just goes to show, it really doesn’t matter what type of customer you are, or you are serving, nor does it matter what industry you operate within – customer demand and the workforce operations that are seeking to satisfy that demand and delight customers in the process, are all better placed to succeed with the support of mobility, information and analytics. Being able to predict the future for ourselves might not be within our grasp (unless you are blessed with the powers of Russell Grant), but using data and predictive analytics to support your workforce operations to keep you competitive, optimal and cost efficient will always yield the most power within your organisation.

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Emma Newman

Emma’s previously worked for Serco, one of the UK’s largest facilities management providers, where she was the Global Rostering Solution Lead. Emma has a keen understanding of the issues faced by facilities management companies in today’s competitive environment, and having worked for us at Transport for London, Severn Trent Water and others, she helps FM companies apply best practice in mobile workforce management.