Smart watches are about to become an important new tool for travel companies to reach their customers in order to offer them support, services and additional bookings. The new tech landscape is likely to provide greater value to the market, which has already seen major exits in the last few years enabled by international business transfer agents.
Apple Watch sales are predicted to be substantial in 2015. The most technologically advanced travel companies were quick to realise the role this new device will play in a competitive environment in which the rise of the mobile channel means that timing – that is to reach customers at the exact time when they need something – is increasingly critical, and developed apps for Apple Watch ahead of its release.
Apps released to date show four main areas where smartwatches are expected to play a role in the travel industry: personalisation, notifications, services and bookings. The prize for companies able to execute this well will be to gain customers’ loyalty by offering them useful services as well as to gain some additional bookings from people on the go.
“Timing is everything, especially when it comes to travel,” states Jerald Singh, Head of Mobile at Expedia. “With the Expedia app for Apple Watch, we’re delivering a more personalised experience by providing the most helpful, relevant information at the right moment throughout a traveller’s journey.”
Expedia is one of the companies offering travellers personalised information through the “Glances” functionality of the Apple Watch, allowing them to review the most relevant facts about their trip simply through a swipe of their watch. This information includes hotel check-in time, address and directions.
TripAdvisor also offers, through its Apple Watch app, personalised recommendations to help users discover the location they are visiting, based on GPS technology and considering the time of day. For example, TripAdvisor can recommend a nearby restaurant at lunch time and provide directions to reach it.
The convenience to be able to receive and easily swipe key information on a watch is also useful for receiving notifications and services. American Airlines, British Airways and easyJet, among others, send real time notifications on flight delays and gate numbers and allow boarding through their Apple Watch apps.
Starwood’s guests can find hotel directions and are able to check in and unlock room doors using Apple Watch. Marriott, meanwhile, offers advance check-in and easy check-out through Apple Pay payments. Hotels.com allows its customers to have access to their booking details and related information, including directions to their hotel, as well as to search for last-minute deals in the vicinity of their location.
Booking.com went a step further in terms of reservations with the launch of Booking Now, the first app allowing instant booking of hotels from the Apple Watch. Personalised hotel suggestions, selected on the basis of the customer location and recorded preferences, are sent to travellers, who are able to review the key aspects of their reservation via the “Glances” functionality through a simple swipe to finally proceed to the booking.
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