How people plan and take trips has changed significantly in the last couple of decades, and the internet has been one of the major drivers of those changes.
Prior to the late 1990s, people had to visit a travel agent in order to compare many different options for prices, destinations, and dates. The internet made all of that information available through various flight search and comparison engines. As the online travel industry grew, the role of the in-person travel agent shrank. Low-cost airlines flourished in this new world of travel access.
However, when it comes to travel, the internet offers much more than cheap flights. People can easily read others’ reviews of accommodations, restaurants, and attractions and find out if something specific they are looking for is nearby. Perhaps one of the biggest changes has been the rise of Airbnb, which allows people to stay in locals’ homes, often for much less than they would pay for a hotel.
Another big change is in the ease of researching and booking trips. Social media influencers and travel websites have made traveling seem easier and more accessible. People can get up-to-the-minute information on a location, whereas previously, they had to rely on guidebooks that might be a year or more out of date. As is the case with flights, booking accommodation, restaurants, and tickets to tourist sites is easier than ever. People can also research and book other forms of transportation, such as buses and trains.
Bigger companies have had to pivot and adapt. For example, most airlines allow online check-in and mobile boarding passes.
Many small local businesses that rely on tourism have benefited from the changes. They can create a website and a social media presence, making them much more visible to potential customers.
Technology has made it easier than ever to track and anticipate customers’ wants and needs, and it is likely that increasing personalization will characterize the future of travel. People are able to travel more independently and with more ease than ever before. Businesses that want to remain competitive must continue to keep up with technological changes and provide customers with good options and services.