2017 EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit

The theme for this year’s EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit was the Digital Big Bang—the need for the travel industry to adapt and keep pace with new digital competitors. Put simply, hotels need to find ways to compete with Airbnb and airlines can’t let OTAs take over.

We had the privilege of taking part in this year’s Start-Up Awards and talking about how messaging can help transform digital travel experiences. But we learned a lot from our two days at the event.

Here are a few things we learned from the 2017 EyeforTravel San Francisco Summit.

Mobile Is the Travel Industry’s New Destination

Desktop won’t disappear anytime soon, but the big focus at this year’s event was mobile. We talk a lot about the importance of embracing mobile because it’s where consumers are most comfortable.

There were a few key points about mobile that travel industry experts used throughout the event to drive home the growing importance of mobile:

  • Mobile is the hub of the traveler’s journey—from dreaming to planning, booking, experiencing, sharing, and more.
  • 60% of searches for travel destinations are on mobile
  • 94% of leisure travelers switch between multiple devices when they plan and book their trips
  • 85% of travelers decide on activities after arriving at their destinations—they need travel-related info at their fingertips even during their trips.

The overwhelming desire for a mobile travel experience is what makes companies like Airbnb so successful. However, it was great to see how a travel industry veteran like Hilton is adapting to mobile demands.

Lessons Learned from the Hilton Honors App

The Hilton Honors App has become one of the highest-rated travel apps, making it a hot topic at the EyeforTravel event. With the help of real-time chat, the app allows Hilton team members to complement a guest’s check-in experience and personalize the overall travel experience—all from a single mobile channel that provides multiple digital tools.

We learned that Hilton has a three-step mindset that has resulted in the app’s success and the company’s transformation:

  • Step 1: Create an integrated IT infrastructure across the entire organization
  • Step 2: Break down silos that result in friction in service delivery and customer communication
  • Step 3: Collaborate with partners to provide a differentiated digital travel experience

For traditional travel companies to get ahead of the Digital Big Bang, they have to replicate Hilton’s success in a way that reflects their own brands.

3 Ways Layer Can Help Travel Companies Own the Digital Big Bang

Spending time at the EyeforTravel event gives you first-hand insight into what traditional companies need help with in the wake of digital transformation. For companies looking to fulfill Step 3 of the Hilton mindset, here are a few ways Layer can help offer a powerful, branded mobile experience:

  • Data-driven Personalization: Attendees overwhelmingly claimed this was the most important component of their digital success. With Layer, each customer conversation contains an event stream of data that helps continually personalize the travel experience.
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: This was the EyeforTravel topic attendees were most excited about—but implementing them into a digital travel experience isn’t always easy. Layer has the flexible framework to incorporate AI and maximize the potential of data gathered from customer conversations.
  • Branded Mobile Messaging: Chatbots are one thing, but the key to Hilton’s success has been real-time chat. Layer has the AI and machine learning tech necessary to understand traveler intent and can automate recommendations—but the real value comes from personal 1:1 conversations that conform to individual brands.

By 2020, the travel industry expects to reach $564 billion. However, the traditional market landscape will continue to be displaced by digital newcomers if incumbents don’t adapt.

If you want to learn more about how Layer can help you get to market quickly with a branded messaging experience that can win the Digital Big Bang, contact us today for a free demo of the customer conversation platform.