The travel industry has undergone several transformations in the recent years with the increase of smartphone technology. The reason that this technology has greatly altered the travel industry is that there is a new interaction where the tourist is now researching a great deal more before they visit a new locale. The tourist also has access to a plethora of more information due to the internet. What has transpired as a result is that the tourist is now eliminating many traditional components of the travel industry from the equation. This has caused many companies to have to shift their business models to adapt to the new tourist in the information technology age. Consider these ways that startups are greatly disrupting the travel industry:
1. Peer-to-Peer Transactions
Airbnb is a great example of how hotels are being phased out from the equation more than ever before. For example, if a group of five needs lodging, they are going to do a great deal to find an affordable accommodation. Airbnb was a startup that turned this need into a serious competitor for hotels. Hotels have now had to address this new threat by adding more options on websites such as Booking.com to appeal to these consumers who may be at risk to go the Airbnb route.
2. Do-It-Yourself Walking Tours
In many countries there have been startup tour groups that the tourist pays tips only if they like the tour guide. This has caused a major disruption in the tour company industry because tourists are now realizing that they may not need a pricy tour in order to properly see the city that they are visiting. This has caused many tourist agencies who were successful 10 – 20 years ago to come up with other ways to capture their target audience.
3. Travelers Checks Are Becoming Scarce
According to my parents, traveler’s checks used to be one of the only ways to get access to foreign currency abroad. In my travels, I have never had the pleasure of holding one; however, I am told that they were an enormous hassle because they were difficult to cash, particularly on weekends. Startups in the currency conversion industry whether it is related to an App or an in person business, have greatly made travelers checks something that is a relic of the past. This has transpired so much so, that this generation has never seen one in many cases.
4. Mobile Phones Are Now Not Having Borders
The cell phone industry has substantially evolved over the last two decades and continues to get better every year. It is for this reason that startups in this industry have changed the travel industry a great deal because they have diminished the traditional barriers to communication when one travels. Local companies have struggled to keep up with startups such as What’sApp that allow users to communicate with phone numbers from different countries from Wifi. This disrupts the entire prior method of communication. In the coming years, this will continue to disrupt the travel industry even more.
5. Rental Cars
Another factor that has greatly disrupted the travel agency are companies such as Uber and Get Around that are now offering car rentals to tourists. This is changing the traditional method of renting a car because Get Around, for example, allows the consumer to pick up a rental car for the day wherever there happens to be an individual who wants to make money off of their car that day. This company is just developing in the United States; however, when they expand, they will greatly change the nature of car rentals when traveling.
In the last two decades, there have been a plethora of changes to the travel industry that are related to startups. The most notable differences have been related to communication, transportation, banking, tour companies, and the peer-to-peer interaction. In the coming years, it is going to be fascinating to see where these changes lead because even though they have greatly disrupted the classical travel industry, they are welcome changes that the younger generations are greatly embracing. What will be interesting to see is what the new norm of travel is going to be as these inventions get more sophisticated.