Nivedit Majumdar Nivedit Majumdar

Context Awareness in the Travel Sector

We’ve seen Context been applied to a plethora of sectors – all mainly pertaining to the technology world. Context is making lives easier by enabling artificial intelligence systems to sense vital parameters in the user’s environment and then provide results or outputs which might help the user. Context – aided with sensors within a smartphone – can give data to the user before the user even asks for the data. It is therefore no surprise that contextual applications have tremendous scope in the near future.

But let’s deviate a little from the world of smartphones and sensors, and see how context might actually help in industries and other fields. In this specific article, I talk about how context might be applied to the global travel and tourism sector, and how it might improve lives in this sphere.

EASING INTO THE BASICS: THE TRAVEL SECTOR

The global travel and tourism sector is a huge contributor to the economies of various countries, and this fact has been more evident in recent years.Estimates from Statista suggest that in recent years, the travel and tourism sector has contributed about U.S $7 trillion to the global economy annually, nearing U.S. $8 trillion in 2014.

In fact, here is a statistic showing the direct and total contribution of travel and tourism in general to the global economy. In 2009, the direct contribution was to the tune of U.S. $1.89 trillion, and this number grew to U.S. $2.36 trillion in 2014. Looking at the total contribution, we see a figure close to U.S. $8 trillion in 2014, which shows just how vital travel and tourism is to the GDP and overall economy of various countries.

emberify_direct_total_Contribution_travel_tourism_global_Economy
(Data Source: Statista)

Speaking a bit more about the above statistic, the direct contribution includes the commodities accommodation, transportation, entertainment and attractions of these industries: Accommodation services, food & beverage services, retail trade, transportation services and cultural, sports & recreational services.

Now why I am harping so much upon the travel sector alone, you might ask? The travel and tourism sector directly and indirectly generates revenue in terms of visitors to the country, which directly affects the GDP and economy. It also generates avenues for employment and various cottage and local industries which might flourish due to tourism.

And this key statistic forms the base for this article, as I’ll be explaining further.

IMPROVEMENTS, USING CONTEXT

Contextual innovations and methods for smartphone applications can help in creating hyper-personalised experiences for travellers. The statement ‘content is king’ has been now amended to ‘context is king’, and context can deliver localised or geo-targeted content, social media integration and open time personalisation.

The focal point for context and travel is the relevance of content. Through context, and the location sensors embedded within a smartphone, the user can get tour guides or key destinations nearby, without even having to input a command.

CONNECTED AREAS

The most prominent area which is connected to the contextual aspect of travel is undoubtedly, marketing. Through context, companies can understand what is the consumer’s outlook or preference, and can deliver location based relevant content which the consumer might find interesting or useful. Not only does this improve brand loyalty for the particular company, but also improves the ease with which the consumer can adapt to the new place.

Key factors to consider for contextual marketing in this regard: Time, Place, Relevance of Content. Get the three factors correctly in the equation, and context can actually build a delicate symbiosis which helps both the company and the consumer.

HOW CAN APPS BE MODIFIED

There are already a lot of applications in the various app stores regarding travel. In fact, here is a statistic from the most popular app store categories on the Apple App Store in March 2015, and you can see that Travel apps are actually more in number than music, productivity or even photo/video applications.

emberify_most_popular_apple_app_store_categories_march_2015
(Data Source: Statista)

For these travel applications to be contextually aware, they can undergo the following modifications:

1. CONCIERGE SERVICES

Contextual data can help provide the traveller with personalised city guides. This would include hyperlocal content in real time, by leveraging concepts such as geofencing.

2. REDUCE HASSLES IN TICKET FARE

NFC is another area which could be utilised by travel apps. Maybe applications could incorporate measures through which tickets or passes can be checked without the user having to go through unnecessary hassles or stand in long queues.

3. FEEDBACK

Improve the feedback system by directly connecting stores or travel destinations with the application, so that consumers might be able to give their feedback directly. This would create a collaborative relationship between the travel application and the stores, and would also help the consumer experience in subsequent visits.

4. DATA

The data regarding the customer travel preferences and history can be utilised for further developing travel destinations. All this can be achieved by taking in data from the sensors within a smartphone and by incorporating the power of context within the application.

TO CONCLUDE

Context has a plethora of applications. With the right direction and the relevant target sector, it can truly enhance the field in which it is applied to. The travel sector is already a huge and vital sphere, and it can be enhanced much beyond its limits through the power of context.

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