Unarguably, the travel and tourism industry tops the charts when talking about an industry’s growth and popularity.
Ever wondered why the global tourism industry has witnessed a rapid and gradual rise in its fortunes?
Which are the driving forces and factors that have spearheaded the industry to this level?
Why are travel industry services designed more with a customer-centric approach?
Here are 5 facts about travel and tourism industry services that show why this industry is drawing millions towards it and will leave you zapped.
The global travel and tourism industry is bigger than you think!
The global travel and tourism industry is one of the biggest in the world. According to World Travel & Tourism Council (the global representative body of travel and tourism private sector), the industry has generated 313 million jobs worldwide which means that out of the total estimated global workforce of 3 billion, more than 10% earn their bread and butter through this sector! This sector employs more people than the banking, chemicals, mining and automotive manufacturing industries together employ at a global level!
WTTC also estimates that the sector is responsible for generating 10.4% of the global GDP! Statista, an online statistics portal, puts this industry’s direct contribution to the world economy at GBP 2 trillion in the year 2017. And when you include its indirect and induced contributions, the figure rises to a staggering GBP 6.45 trillion!
The travel and tourism industry plays a major role in stimulating economic growth and development; particularly in underdeveloped economies. The stimulus is primarily provided through 2 key factors – the job creation aspect (which has already been discussed) and the generation of a steady inflow of foreign exchange. The industry, when it provides services to international visitors, becomes one of the world’s biggest export industries and thus induces spending from abroad. It thus brings in a considerable amount of foreign exchange for the travel destination. A WTTC report suggests that travel and tourism industry generates more than half of all service exports in countries like Jamaica and South Africa.
The industry rides on the shoulders of a strong and ubiquitous travel agency network.
How does an industry as complex and distributed as the tourism industry function so efficiently? How do its members provide such seamless services across the globe? Who is responsible for the massive scale-up in its revenue generation capacity? The answer to all these questions is found in the industry’s powerful and all-pervasive travel agency network.
The industry operates through a well-connected network of local and global travel agents; the face of the industry. They bring the customers, they generate the revenue, and they also play an indirect yet significant part in the development of a place as a tourist destination.
These people or organizations that strengthen the industry are in turn strengthened by the travel agents association. At a local level, they exchange ideas and information with each other (despite the cut-throat competition) through a local travel agents association while on the global stage, the World Travel Agents Association Alliance facilitates the communication. Besides, the world body also interacts with airlines, government agencies, and external influencers on behalf of the whole community and seeks to resolve issues plaguing its members and works to make the provision of travel industry services a lot smoother and easier.
Technology has brought the industry where it is.
Like it is with most industries, technology has brought about a drastic change in the way the travel industry functions. The introduction of technology has accelerated most processes of the industry; right from creating awareness about a destination to acquiring the customer.
Technology has given birth to both the low-cost air carrier and your quintessential online travel agent. The services of an online travel agent make traveling a hassle-free experience which encourages more and more people to travel without a second thought. The widespread adoption of smartphones has meant that travelers have never found it easier to find flights and hotel rooms than they do now. About 40% of all online bookings are made through a mobile device. Users could simply browse the internet and visit the website or open the app of any online travel agency to not just find the best deals on hotel rooms and flight tickets but also to book their ground transportation instantly. The lower airfares and availability of low-cost accommodation has meant that enjoying a holiday is now no longer a luxury reserved for the rich.
Tourist information centers play an under-credited but vitally essential role for travel industry services.
Tourist information centers are virtually indispensable for the travel industry. A tourist information center, also known simply as the visitor center, is essentially an entryway to a place for a tourist. All basic information pertaining to the location is provided to the tourist through these centers. The knowledge of the location’s key tourist attractions, public & private transport system, the location of ATMs and foreign exchange centers, hotels, maps, miscellaneous traveling tips and all that is relevant to the tourists is imparted to them via a tourist information center.
A visitor center is usually operated at entry points to a destination; an airport or a seaport for example. It is also common to find such information centers at major landmarks of the place, where the tourists are supplied with trail maps, important contacts, restrooms, etc.
Such centers serve as a medium for creating an acquaintance between the tourist and the tourist destination. This ensures that the tourists spend their time at the location enjoying its sights and attractions, and do not have to scramble for vital details in the middle of their sojourn. They enable them to plan their journey and make sure that they get the best out of their trip.
Social media has changed the dynamics of the industry!
Social media has changed the way the travel and tourism industry created customers and devised their marketing strategies. Travel industry services have become more personalized and customer-centric. The focus has shifted from ‘reaching out’ to customers to being ‘found’ by customers. People are influenced by the social media posts of their friends and acquaintances when they choose their holiday destination. They trust their recommendations more than advertisements to make crucial travel decisions. For example, MDG advertising suggests that more than half the users’ travel plans are affected by Facebook photos and about 30% of American travelers find trip inspiration from social media. The younger generation, the millennial, also check the ‘Instagrammability’ of the location before they make a decision; with nearly 40% of British millennial showing this tendency.
The advent of social media has also improved the quality of travel services. According to MDG advertising, about 74% of all travelers use social media on vacation and they share all good and bad experiences online; before, during and after the trip. So if an online travel agent reneges on a certain term or condition specified before the booking, or if the service is delivered unsatisfactorily, customers post about it and bring the matter in view of the world (or their friends and families at least). To avoid such bad publicity, travel industry service providers deliver their services with greater efficiency.
The travel and tourism industry stands out among the others due to the very peculiar nature of the ‘goods’ (tourist destinations) it markets and the services it provides. The 5 facts presented here underline its global economic importance, its unique structure, and how it has only grown over the years and will continue to do so in all likelihood.