In today’s digital age, the tourism industry is nothing like it used to be. Those who are old enough may remember the days when taking a leisurely vacation would involve months of careful planning, a few trips to a brick-and-mortar travel agent, and practically a novel’s worth of brochures for local attractions and activities.

However, according to Adobe Digital Insights’ travel industry market research, 41% of business and 60% of leisure travel arrangements are now made online. Thanks to major industry players like Airbnb, Expedia, and more, today’s travelers have come to depend on the tech-fueled opportunities today’s tourism businesses have to offer.

To reiterate the importance of this new technology in today’s tourism industry, we’ve compiled a list of three emerging digital trends to look out for:

AI-Powered Chatbots

Artificial intelligence (AI) is used in a number of today’s travel experiences, like purchasing flight tickets or navigating booking sites like Airbnb or Hotels.com, but perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of its use is through AI-powered chatbots. Often referred to as virtual assistants, this technology is becoming widely adopted in tourism-based services to handle traveler inquiries.

In particular, hotels can use chatbots to provide their guests with recommendations of where to eat, what to see, and what to do in the area. Guests can access the information at any time they need, right from their phones in the form of an e-concierge. In fact, Marriott has been using chatbots at nearly 5,000 hotels to do things like make reservation changes and check on account balances or redemption vouchers.

Recognition Technology

Advanced recognition technology—including fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, retina scanning, and other biometric identification methods—offers a major opportunity for many sectors of the tourism industry. Security and ticketing checkpoints at airports, train stations, and hotel receptions can often lead to long wait times and stressful experiences for travelers. However, biometric recognition has the potential to make these experiences practically frictionless, leading to streamlined and faster experiences at these checkpoints. Some reporters in the space anticipate that recognition technology will soon replace traditional ticketing methods and even have the potential to bolster security for large travel hubs like airports.

Social Media Influencers

Social media has certainly swayed a number of purchases in today’s digitally-connected consumer base, and the tourism industry is certainly no exception. A survey by Schofields recently reported that more than 40% of millennials, aged 18 through 33, consider “Instagrammability” when selecting their next travel destination — leaving an opportunity for tourism companies to take advantage of.

Many brands within the travel and tourism segment have begun to sponsor trips for social media influencers, who share their travel experience with their many followers. By showcasing travel destinations, hotels, and other accommodations via their social media channels, these influential individuals use their voice to boost sales for brands in the tourism industry. Avoya Travel, U by Uniworld, Southwest, and Hilton are all popular travel brands that are currently using influencer marketing.

With the ebb and flow of technology trends, it’s vital to track what’s popular in travel. Leaders in today’s tourism industry must learn to use these digital trends not only to gain an edge on their competition but also (and most importantly) to serve their customers as best as possible.


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