Virtual Assistants or chatbots, video reviews or an all-inclusive personalised online itineraries, what could be the next big wave in digital travel? Experts give their opinions.
As told to AHANA GURUNG
Nikhil Ganju, Country Head, TripAdvisor Domain – Online travel content, reviews
The area where we are seeing the maximum in-trip activities is in reviews and I feel video reviews are going to change the way people perceive feedback. We started working on video reviews a couple of years ago for our app and launched it recently. The interesting thing is that you can only do the reviews in real-time, while experiencing the property, and in the mobile context, it seems much more natural. The property may not be able to act on a negative review immediately, but will be able to solve the problem for the next guest.
Abhishek Rajan, Head–Travel Marketplace, Paytm Domain – Mainly online payments, now expanded to travel
The entire booking flow can go from search and result to a virtual assistant or chatbot addressing your requirements. This is definitely going to change the face of how bookings will be done. Several companies like Kayak, Expedia and Skyscanner have already experimented with it for flight bookings. On the experience side, virtual reality is going to be key in the decision-making part of a traveller’s journey, where they can have a glimpse of the destination and understand what they’re really getting into. This applies for hotels too. The qualitative experience is generally paramount in this aspect.
Sharat Dhall, COO, Yatra.com Domain – Online Travel Agent
Holiday packaging part is still largely offline and has not taken off all that well online. Everybody is grappling with that challenge in terms of how to stitch it all together. An online player, who is able to do that without a glitch, particularly in markets where things are a bit complex from an overall travel perspective, in terms of infrastructure, modes of transport, different kinds of accommodation, sightseeing and attractions, will really be the distinguishing factor in digital travel.