With a growing middle class around the world, the tourism industry has changed immensely. Although traditional travel comprising planned packages and all-inclusive stays is still alive, other types of travel are booming.
Accommodation aggregator Booking.com, which is part of the NASDAQ-listed Priceline Group, is the world's largest online travel services company. On the sidelines of the Web Summit, CGTN is looking at tourism, the sector where artificial intelligence (AI) and data complements Booking.com really well.
Gillian Tans, Booking.com's chairwoman, advised on the evolution of the online travel business.
"Our mission is to empower people to experience the world. We support all our customers with customer service in 43 languages. Customers look at what they can do once they are in a destination so we are also trying to innovate around experiences," Tans said.
"We start off first with our own employee base and the volunteers work all over the world to help the destinations with our knowledge. We need to do more work how we can make a bigger impact, that's why we start thinking about startups, so we bring technology in tourism and stable tourism together. Our base helps them with knowledge by mentorships so the impact can be seen bigger," Tans added.
As the online travel space is getting more competitive, companies are putting a lot of investments into building customer loyalty. They need to make sure they keep investing in the right tech that will help customers.
Tans pointed out: "The latest surveys we have done showed 26 percent customers plan trips. I think it is still low but still surprises me. You know people do see the benefits of that. Data and privacy are also very important for the company. People often ask how to innovate with security and privacy. I think the two go hand in hand. It is good for customers' rights."
At any rate, technology isn't the only change factor within the world of travel. Lifestyles today are completely different. Travelers have more information, more access and overall higher expectations for their travels.
"We recently launched a booking system which launched almost more languages and building more connected trips. We already have more than one hundred destinations where customers can book tour activity, we are considering how we can make it easier for customers," Tans concluded.