Travel Technology

When people hear what I do for a living, they often ask what I know about the latest apps, tools and travel technology that are in the pipeline By: Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro
Kenneth Shapiro

When people hear what I do for a living, they often ask what I know about the latest apps, tools and travel technology that are in the pipeline. This issue’s cover story, “Trending Now,” addresses this very question and shares a few of the most interesting travel tech products to watch.

Beyond the coolness factor, travel agents should be aware of these developments so that they stay a step ahead of their clients and remain in the advisor role. A sure way to position yourself as a travel expert is to introduce your clients to an amazing travel app that they have not heard about before.

This sort of travel technology is becoming a higher priority for an increasing percentage of travelers. Last year, a study by MMGY Global/Harrison Group called the “2013 Portrait of Digital Travelers,” introduced a new term for a growing segment of travelers. Referred to as the “digital elite,” these consumers own smartphones and tablets and rely on Internet research and travel tech tools to plan, book and experience vacations. The study showed that this group is growing rapidly — increasing from 5 percent of all travelers in 2011 to 33 percent of all travelers in 2013.

According to the survey, the digital elite travels more than other consumers (4.1 trips compared to 3.7 trips), are more affluent and spend more on travel. The digital elite will spend an average of $4,988 per trip compared to $3,812 for less-connected travelers, and intends to spend an average of $5,210 on leisure travel in the year ahead, compared to just $3,690 for their counterparts.

The digital elite also tends to be more interested in international travel. More than half (53 percent) took at least one leisure trip outside of the continental U.S. during the past year, compared to only 38 percent of less-connected travelers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these travelers are more likely to use an online travel agency than other consumers. However, I view this as an opportunity for agents to prove to the digital elite that they share its interest in technology — dispelling the notion that agents are behind the times. If using tech tools is not second nature to you, consider this issue’s cover story a step toward learning more about them. After all, being a successful agent means continually updating your skill set.

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