Rekindling the travelling experience

Business Development & Strategy Director
Valtech France

July 29, 2016

Digital allows for the emergence of new actors, who are making travel planning easier before the holidays. But those pure players are associated with a rather cold and disembodied feel, even though they are the primary contact point of customers looking for new experiences, adventures and discoveries. 

What today is about is transforming a service that is often run by an algorithm into a true, emotion-inducing human experience. Momondo has perfectly understood this dichotomy and has managed to reconcile these opposites through its viral video campaign: The DNA Journey. This travel comparison website offers a real social experience, allowing the male and female participants, to find their origins and then travel to the relevant countries, on a search for their ancestors.

Emotion en route

One of the first trends that emerges today is the emotional dimension added to this kind of platform, intending to immerse the future traveller into a holiday mood while he is still sitting on his couch. Through a partnership with Google Play Music, Trip Advisor is now offering playlists associated with various destinations in addition to its traditional recommendations for good addresses. From Paris to Rome to Chicago, the user can take a deeper emotional dive into his future trip. With Holidays on Demand, Transavia’s VOD service in partnership with Canal Play, it is possible to book a ticket to the country or town where the movie you are watching is set. From a random photo found on the internet, the Tripstr app, which is originally dedicated to holiday photos, allows the user to locate the place where the photo was taken and shows the location of the nearest airport to make this “dream postcard” destination available.

Virtual reality: half-dream, half-reality

It is frequent that the traveller, whether he is going to the neighbouring town or to a deserted island at the end of the earth, builds a projection of his trip beforehand, regarding the hotel, landscape, people, weather or mood. If the gap between this fantasy and reality is too great, the deception may be tremendous once the destination is reached. Virtual reality, with its immersive power, can prevent this traveller’s uneasiness, allowing users to visualise, in 3D and in advance, the reality that awaits. Hotels like Marriott, Shangri-La or Best Western offer travellers the possibility to view the inside of their resorts in order to take a look at the comfort and decoration of the rooms. The content editor VR Jaunt has recently collaborated with Chinese media to create 360-degree experiences such as a walk through the streets of Shanghai or a concert of the pop group SNH48. On a dedicated website, the Etihad Airways company offers a 360-degree video so that we can taste the luxury of one of its aircrafts during a flight, allowing us to walk its aisles like privileged passengers.

Make yourself stand out

Just like when you buy clothes or an apartment, it is important that your choice of holidays be a reflection of yourself. This is what Airbnb has been promoting with its latest “Don’t Go There, Live There” campaign. Many brands are now walking in its footsteps and are waging on personalization via User Generated Content to meet this need, which is crucial to the success of a trip. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has developed Matchmaker, a pre-roll ad that is edited in real time and whose content (activities in the region) rely on user data: likes, centres of interest and browsing history. The tourist information office of South Africa offers a similar concept: a customized video based on 4 centres of interest that are selected beforehand by the user via the MeetSouthAfrica platform and define the kind of trip the user is looking for. St Giles hotels have gone the extra mile by providing their staff and guests with several cameras to film their holidays in 360 degrees. This content was used to create the advertising video of the hotel chain on social media.

Everyone’s a local

Soaking up the local culture and enjoying good deals and addresses while staying away from the mass of tourists is the holy grail of any skilled traveller. With its “Layover With a Local” app, KLM is offering a chance to take advantage of the time spent at the airport during transit. Users can contact a local resident, meet them downtown for a drink or ask them for good addresses to make transit a trip of its own. Using the #DingDong hashtag, Airbnb offered tourists the possibility to ask a Parisian on Twitter for good deals in Paris and to get an answer right away. The AI app is a digital tourist guide of Paris for the Chinese. It provides shopping itineraries that best reflect the French way of life. The app also includes a map and a search engine to easily find the brands and products that you like. EasyJet has developed sneakers connected to smartphones’ GPSs, allowing users to be guided by vibration while walking in a foreign city. A useful tool to avoid getting lost!

The spirit of travelling for a journey of the mind

Ever more powerful algorithms enable users to find low prices and dream destinations, which, however, are not accessible to all. A journey literally means “a trip”, but it also has a figurative meaning: “an escape of the mind, a way to get rid of your problems”. The latter is what Expedia has waged on by developing, along with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the Dream Adventures concept, a room with 360-degree screens that enables children affected by cancer to experience an adventure at the other end of the earth via virtual reality. This is also the case of Zoodoc, a digital platform that specializes in healthcare and offers patients a chance to travel to beautiful landscapes using only a virtual reality headset while they are in the waiting room.