Recent research by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and others has shown that the adventure travel community has a need for improved booking, payment, scheduling, and customer management software applications. There are multiple reasons why adventure businesses struggle with technology: the right solutions are not available or accessible, they are reluctant to change long-standing processes in their organization, or they are just not sure where to start. To begin the conversation about how technology can support adventure travel businesses, the ATTA in partnership with Flywire has published a new research report: Creating, Communicating, and Connecting: Technology in Adventure Travel.
One of the biggest challenges for adventure tourism is that many companies in the community are small, with limited resources. Technological tools can make the jobs of adventure travel company staff easier, by automating marketing, communication, booking, payments, and other parts of the sales process. This report lays out key benchmarks related to technology application in travel businesses, and how technology fits into adventure travel.
According to Skift and Amazon Web Services (AWS), successful adoption of technology can help travel companies:
- Improve their products, pricing, promotion, and distribution
- Be more agile and flexible to meet changing demand and environmental shifts
- Run their businesses more efficiently and effectively
- Better meet travelers’ preferences for communicating, shopping, and buying digitally
A March 2021 survey by the WTTC/World Bank found that 94% of tour operators are interested in or planning to make investments in technology/digitization in the near future, as are 45% of accommodations and 64% of DMO/consulting/marketing firms. Operating successfully in the new post-pandemic world of travel means going through a “digital transformation,” or an increase in technology adoption to improve efficiency, value, or innovation. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers are looking for more online shopping options, digital communications, and contactless solutions (source: research from McKinsey).
In the general business world, the COVID-19 crisis has led to a rapid acceleration of digitization. Within the first year of the pandemic alone, companies sped up customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years, and the progress of digital or digitally enabled products by a striking seven years (source: research from McKinsey). However, the hospitality industry has notoriously lagged behind in technology adoption, and faces many challenges to meet traveler demand for digital services.
While technology has many roles in life and in travel, its three key functions in the purview of adventure travel are creating, communicating, and connecting. These three objectives encompass the creation of a company and its products, promotion and communication with potential customers, and connecting with current and past guests. All three functions build off each other and act to support both the adventure travel company and its clients.
This report was developed to look at the current state of technology in adventure travel and to discuss how it can help the industry create, communicate, and connect. Then it provides guidance to organizations looking to implement new solutions, and ends by looking forward to what is next for technology in adventure travel. Technology should not be seen as a replacement for the invaluable human component of adventure travel, but rather as a support system to facilitate parts of their jobs so they can focus on serving their guests.
Colin Smyth, VP & GM, Travel, Flywire says, “In this report, you’ll discover some of the major ways legacy technology is creating challenges for providers, and solutions that can help you focus on what you do best—providing unforgettable experiences.”