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The Influence of Technology on the Travel and Tourism Industry in Bangladesh

influence of technology on the travel and tourism industry in Bangladesh

Do you remember the time when your family decided to go on a vacation and your father started to consult destinations, expenses, and adventures with some travel agencies? If you are a millennial, then the probable answer might be, YES! But those days are long gone. Today is the modern era of technology and with the development, it has been shaped over the last decades, it is undoubtedly traveling through its golden phase. This advancement has also started to show its influence on the tourism and travel industry. According to a handbook of consumer behavior, tourism and the internet, in just six years, the revenue from online booking jumped to 11 billion USD from 2000 to 2006.  Although a bit late, Bangladesh is not much far from taking the essence of this advancement. In this article, we will see how technology is shifting the paradigm from a tedious, diligent, expensive vacation toward a relaxed, chilled and cheaper experience. 

 

The Game Changer 

Before getting into the main section, let’s hear the stories of two of the big shots of this tourism industry. 

GoZayaan, one of the very first online travel aggregators,  started as an online ticket booking solution on August 10, 2017. Later they expanded their service from assisting their clients in visa processing to hotel booking as well as giving offers, coupons, and tour plans to Bangladeshi travel lovers. Recently GoZayaan received 2.6 million dollars in funding from a seed round. It has also received a Champion award in the tourism and hospitality category at the 208 BASIS National ICT Awards. Today it has 300 hotels and resorts globally and in Bangladesh, this amount is 6000. The facility range covers from regular segment to premium segment. 

ShareTrip, another player in the travel and tourism industry, has also started its journey as a ticket booking BD back in 2014. After a round of investment and rebranding, they expanded their business and tried to create an end-to-end travel solution for a user. It has come up with innovative and exciting reward points like “trip coins”, “Spin to win” etc. which has created its credibility to the users. Today their app has more than 250K users.  

What we can see from the above success stories is how technology has started to capture the tourism and travel industry. The paradigm shift from buying tickets at local ticket selling counters to buying tickets with a few phone taps is just the introduction of a new era into the travel and tourism industry. The advantages of travel apps in the travel and tourism industry creates so much convenience that people are moving quickly toward the mobile-based application solution for any problem related to travel and tourism. Thus the possibility of making a profit from this trend is huge. According to online travel markets – statistics and facts, as of 2020, 65% of the revenue from the global travel and tourism market comes from online sales channels. In that year, the online travel agent market size worldwide was approximately 432 billion U.S. dollars and it was forecast to reach over 833 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.  

In Bangladesh, people are also embracing this new aspect of the tourism industry. Over the last few years, as the economy got bigger, vacation is not a mere luxury anymore. People are craving refreshments as workloads are heavier than before. The weekend is a great way to blow off some steam but the hassle of planning a trip is one of the main struggles one doesn’t want to go through. Online-based travel agencies are playing a crucial role here. These social media-based travel agencies arrange multiple trips to a number of tourist spots at a time. One can easily choose his/her preference, pay the charge, and enjoy their journey. From transportations to food, accommodation, places to be explored – everything covers the package. Now let us see how technology can influence the future of the travel and tourism industry.

 

Finding information has never been so easy

Human psychology is extremely inquisitive by nature. The root of having fun on the vacation lies in experiencing the unknown. But this phenomenon comes with its own drawbacks too. There are lots of ways one can get conned during traveling. Lack of proper information is the basic reason for this. Today we have the solution to this problem. With the progress of information technology and the world wide web, information of any kind is easier to find than ever. There is an industry shaped around information advancement of tourism and traveling. Tourism technology has been playing a key role in this regard. It is also called travel technology or hospitality automation. It is defined by the use of information and communications technology in the tourism, travel and hospitality industry. 

 

Planning trip is fun

Technology has its own advantages too when you want to plan your own trip. A true passionate “traveloholic” always prefers to customize his/her trip. To design a trip, information-based research online is a life saver. 

The planning starts from selecting a proper travel destination. While it’s very hard to speculate naturally how beautiful a place can be, hundreds of thousands of pictures are shared via social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter every day. Also, there are multiple apps where one can find any information regarding a place. Using mobile applications, a user can analyze and compare multiple tourist destinations based on his/her preferred criteria. Artificial intelligence and big data are so smart nowadays that using such technologies, an app can suggest multiple travel options to its user by using his/her search pattern. Using big data plays a very effective role in running any marketing campaign for a travel company. It can easily check user behavior and improve personalized lucrative offers. Also, there are AI chatbots that can answer basic user inquiries. From a business point of view, using technologies like this and building an app is very effective in terms of revenue generation. 

 

Nobody has the time to visit an offline booking store 

When it comes to booking tickets, who would like to cut some time from his/her busy work schedule, visit a physical ticket booking agency and find out which route is best suited for him/her? Technology knocks on the door here too. With the usage of inserted data, multiple probable routes are suggested to the user which can be best suited. There are lots of ticket reservation apps that provide this feature. Using an online-based ticket booking applications like flight expert, bdtickets, flyticket provide such convenience to the user. A user can search for flights, buses, and trains according to his/her desired time schedule, reserve tickets and also make payments. Making payments online has its own dimension. We will discuss this later in this article. 

Not only booking tickets for roads, but also booking hotels, or fun activities are also possible using various online travel-based apps like GoZayaan, Airbnb etc. These applications are so versatile and multipurpose that they can be a one-stop solution for planning and executing a vacation. 

Who would know that the highest bungee jump is 764 feet above the ground, located in Macau, China, and costs around 3500 USD covering pictures, videos, souvenirs and tower tickets? Virtual reality-based experiences can also be provided to attract more tourists to fun sports like skydiving, bungee jumping, deep-sea diving etc. Applications have built-in features to suggest exciting, fun and adventurous activities like this to its user. They allow them the chance to check their schedules and book tickets for them in advance. Because during the peak time of the season, these places often have jam-packed schedules. So advance booking is a must to take part in such adventures. 

 

Apps are great ways to attract customers

Traveling is all about exploring a new place, its habitants, their cultures, festivals and so on. But how a passionate travel-lover can be aware of such opportunities. A tech-savvy person will always prefer search engines in this regard. But online travel agencies have made their job even easier. They suggest attractive, exotic places with their fascinating history, culture, and tribal features. 

For example, in the Valencian town of Bunol, in the east of Spain, a festival takes place every year called LA TOMATINA where participants throw tomatoes at each other just for entertainment purposes. The date for this year is august 22, 2022. Notifications can be sent to notify any upcoming exciting festivals like this and let them know how they can experience such an amazing show. 

 

No compromise when it comes to security

So far we have talked about how technology can benefit a traveler in planning his/her trip. Now let’s talk about how it plays its role when the journey starts. 

Unfortunately, not all the places in the world are safe for a person. Like it is said earlier, an unknown place comes with its own drawbacks. The chance of getting lost in a new place is not uncommon. GPS-based maps are very useful in this regard. Multiple modes like walking, driving, etc. are built inside the application and they are used to navigate properly without getting lost. 

For local transportation, ride-sharing applications save a lot of time, energy and money. There are mobile-based applications that allow peers to share their ride and earn money. Uber, Grab, Pathao, etc are examples of apps like this. Using such apps also ensures the security of the user. Such as,  any active trip can be shared with a trusted person. By sharing the trips, any trusted person will know the exact location of the vehicle used and also see the real-time navigation of the vehicle. Such a feature comes in handy for those solo travelers who love to go on vacations without having any companions. 

Apart from this feature, these ride-sharing apps collect and keep all the data about the vehicle used and the driver driving. Researchers have shown that the chance of losing bags and luggage is deteriorating with the introduction of this feature. 

Also, there are features like one-tap SOS (save our soul) button in case of any unwanted or dangerous situations. A new place comes with lots of uncertainties. Therefore, any possibility of incidents like this requires a serious requirement of emergency help. These apps are connected with the law enforcement authorities and even the slightest possibility of any mishaps, with the one tap of the button, the location of the tourist is shared and it saves resources, money and to some extent life also. Apart from the ride-sharing applications, and car rental apps, online bus reservation systems provide an important aspect of transportation.      

 

Techs that make the processes easy

Generally flight check-in, and hotel check-in are tedious tasks. Using facial recognition, and fingerprint technology, these processes are made faster, and smoother. Also, they provide security to a tourist during his/her stay. Smart home technologies ensure flexibility and security inside a hotel. A smart key-based locking mechanism, and eye scanning locker system makes the journey stress free. Any kind of valuable things like gadgets, and documents can be kept safe in a locker system like this. 

 

Language is not a problem anymore 

In terms of traveling outside a geographical area, one of the main challenges a tourist has to face is the barrier of language. Although the main purpose of a language is to communicate with others, it is also necessary to explore a culture. Without talking to the people closely, one can not be accustomed to the place s/he is trying to explore.  To solve this problem, there are applications that convert speeches between languages. The more versatile the app is in terms of the language conversion, the more chances it creates to increase its usefulness. Such sort of application requires big data and artificial intelligence to provide results with the best accuracy. The more data the system will consume, the more it will be trained. Also there are features like image-to-text conversion. Such features are useful when something important is written in the local language and the tourist wants to read them.    

 

Making money from spent money

The tourism industry is associated with a country’s economy as the tourists spend money that is earned from outside of the country. Earning money in one country and spending in another has a major economic value on the latter country. In some countries, the tourism industry is the main source of earning foreign currency. So, clearly, the tourism industry has a huge impact on the economy of a country. The transaction of cash has a huge hassle as with the change of governmental border, the paper-based currency needs to be converted. This physical conversion of money comes with some insecurity, mishaps and frauds also. To avoid this, digital wallets and payment systems are playing a crucial factor. With the emergence of the FinTech industry, the usage of digital wallets, and digital payments are on the rise right now.  Almost all the countries of the world including Bangladesh are focusing on FinTech products. Applications like BKash, Ucash, Upay, Nagad, and Rocket are some of the local FinTech products of Bangladesh which provide digital wallets to its users and also allow them to complete economical transactions at almost all of the shops, malls, stores etc. 

Here are some of the interesting stats found on the internet about the influence of social media on traveling:

  • Almost 35% of the decisions taken by a tourist during his trip are based on the information found on the internet.
  • More than 75% of accounts upload their pictures, and videos on various social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapshot, Twitter etc. 
  • People happened to spend more time on social media during vacation rather than normal days. 

The above information clearly states how important information from the internet is to travelers. In times of deciding which foods to try, which malls to shop, and which hotels to stay in, they blindly believe what some random guy has written on their review page. Sharing experiences such as reviews or word of mouth is a great source of trusted information according to the tourists. So, the review section of online booking apps is a must if someone wants to get into business.

Since the user data is collected and is being used to provide a better user experience, there is always a possibility of privacy breaches. Major security concerns are there when it comes to invading someone’s privacy. Fake news, fake reviews, and dirty PR tricks to demean market competitors are also there. But keeping all the negativities aside, it is true that the introduction of information and communication technology has really shown the world a new tourism aspect, has enhanced the overall travel experience and made it more efficient, more enchanting and less costly.    

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