A. Krishna Mohan, Managing Director, Southern Travels

The Indian travel and hospitality industry has been undergoing rapid digitalisation. Enterprises in this domain are now relying heavily on new-age solutions to deliver highly personalised experience to customers. As such, technologies like internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are gaining traction among travel companies and hotels. Technologies like 5G and edge computing have multiple use cases for the travel and hospitality industry. They help enhance customer experience, improve security and take business decisions. Industry players share their views on the evolving technology trends, their uptake and the way forward…

What are the new digital solutions being leveraged by your organisation? How is technology assisting in the sector’s recovery in the post-pandemic era?

As an organisation, we are already using and will continue to use a variety of technology solutions, covering areas such as customer relationship management, customer excellence centre, and sales and distribution.

Our core philosophy, backing all technology interventions in the past and in the future too, is based on a simple two-pro­nged approach of augmentation of business productivity and enhancement of customer experience.

How are next-generation innovations such as AI/ML, AR/VR, cloud and automation reshaping the travel and hospitality sector? What are the main challenges faced while deploying these technologies? How will the emergence of the metaverse impact the travel and hospitality industry?

AI, AR, VR, etc., are the closest one can come in one’s endeavour to experience a destination. These technologies will help as an effective advertisement and marketing tool by becoming the bridge between the aspiration to travel to a destination and the decision to actually travel to the destination physically to experience it.

Metaverse will impact the travel industry in a very positive way by allowing tra­vel businesses including components such as hotels and attractions within the entire value chain to offer customers an opportunity to try a product virtually before purchasing it, thereby closing the gap bet­ween expectation and the actual delivery.

Also, a lot of people who are unable to travel due to physical challenges can now experience the destinations from the comfort of their homes as this experience th­rough metaverse is the closest that one can have compared to the real thing.

Going forward, what are the key digital trends you foresee in the sector in the next three years?

In the near future, technology will augment customer experience in many ways. For instance, a key trend expected to make huge strides in transforming “big data to predictive personalisation” of customer experience. This will allow the system to predict the behaviour of a certain category of users based on their past behaviour. For instance, it is rare for a tourist to buy the same flight or stay at the same facility sin­ce once they experience it, that destination loses its appeal at least for a while.