Luxury travel still to grasp importance of mobile, wearables and beacons

Mobile, wearables and beacons will quickly become essential for the luxury travel sector if it wants to keep pace with customer demands in the digital age.

Ewan MacLeod, industry entrepreneur and founder of Mobile Industry Review, told the inaugural Connections Luxury event, that technology developments were rapidly “coming for” the sector.

However, he said despite rising expectation from customers that technology ought to be available to improve their experience, most firms were behind the curve.

“The majority of you are not thinking mobile first. If you have a chief mobile officer in your company, if you’ve got a mobile division you’ve got a real problem because the revolution’s happened already.

“Mobile is absolutely huge and most companies haven’t even recognised it yet, and that’s why they are being disintermediated,” MacLeod said.

He pointed to figures that suggest globally today 48% of all emails are being opened on a mobile device.

“Have you thought about that?” MacLeod said. “Have you considered why no one’s bothering replying to your very big long really good looking massively designed email that I can’t read properly on my phone.

“These are exceptional personal devices. Your marketing team, which is still doing the same things as they were 10 years ago before these devices existed, are they thinking about spamming me with rubbish emails…is this not an invasion potentially of my personal space?” 

MacLeod claimed 25% of all travellers always check Facebook before going to sleep and 72% of the wealthy are active Facebook members. “If you have rubbish wifi at your destination and I’m paying £1,000 a night we have a problem,” he said.

MacLeod said he was seeing some examples of good practice in the travel sector and signs that some firms were understanding the importance of the emergence of new technology.

Examples cited included pilots for keyless check-in, digital floorplans for hotels, smartwatch contactless payments and ticketing and virtual concierge services through which services can be ordered at the touch of a button.

“We are seeing changes, we are seeing the luxury industry getting the plot,” MacLeod said.

“I expect you to know who I am, to have second site. The number one problem I have in luxury is missed expectations. You get it wrong and people will ask what the hell am I paying £1,000 a night for. Don’t ever get it wrong.”

MacLeod said although beacons, small transmitters that allow firms to track and interact with their customers as they move around properties or destinations, have been around for a while they are only now being deployed.

“What gets really exciting is when you can start tracking your customers.  We have had this technology quite a while it’s just most of the travel industry hasn’t woken up to it yet.

“If you haven’t got Beacons on your roadmap you have a problem especially in luxury where I am expecting just-in-time bespoke service you can use this to really augment that.”

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