The reality of modern travel is that travelers and brands alike expect their experiences of nearly every trip to be digital-first and data-rich, marked by mobile access to information, options, and services. On the brand side, the experience is increasingly digital as well.

For travel marketing, using digital technology to reach consumers in data-driven ways is a well-established approach. Dynamic email open-rates, for example, come in at 56.7%, among leading cases, as Movable Ink reports, with click-through rates at 15.2%. The travel industry is hard at work, leveraging digital in just these ways.

But successfully leveraging data and making meaningful connections with digital-first travelers isn’t just a marketing moment. It’s an on-site, operations-forward opportunity, too, one that can reshape the very relationships that brands and travelers enjoy.

In the following sections, we turn to examples that illustrate how travel brands are putting digital experiences together with passengers and guests, shaping real-time customer experiences and recasting expectations across every leg of a trip.

Engaging Travelers: Curb-to-Cabin Digital Adventures

Virgin Atlantic wants to show its customers exactly what its idea of the ultimate trip can be, and the airline is doing just that — in a very literal way — thanks to digital tech.

The company’s Interactive Digital Adventures app, Ida for short, turns to virtual technology to place travelers in the environments Virgin Atlantic’s built. The VR-mobile experience allows passengers to move through and feel what it’s actually like to take the brand’s journey … from airport check-in to the flight itself.

Then, the airline’s universal app, gives operations the power to capture critical customer data when travelers do embark on a Virgin Atlantic trip, fueling marketing’s and op’s next moves and dynamic next-step engagements (even more on these connections follows in the next installment of this series).

Transforming Points of Sale: More and Better Time with Guests

The modern traveler already expects their digital tools to dovetail with dining. As TripAdvisor reports, 72% use their devices to find restaurants and 64% of diners turn to mobile technology to look up reviews, including restaurants reviews, before they eat during a trip.

Putting mobile point-of-sale devices in the hands of operations stand to change the traveling diner’s experience once they arrive. TGI Fridays, for example, has transformed its on-site operations to give staff more time with every guest, and more opportunities to get every detail of a meal just right.

Servers enter orders table-side via the tablet, and the data is automatically delivered to the teams that pour and plate the meal. Now, instead of hurrying away to notify bar and kitchen staff, servers spend more time with guests, further shaping experiences around the brand. And, at the end of a meal, the server runs payment right on the tablet as well.

Training time shrinks. Order turnaround and accuracy improve. Table-turn rates get better. Digital technology is transforming experiences and operations in the hospitality space.

Next Up: Ancillary Opportunities, Customer Relations, and Empowering Travel

In the next installments of this series, read about how digital tech is transforming on-site brand opportunities around ancillary sales, customer relationship management, and service delivery. We’ll also look behind the scenes to see how digital technology is empowering travel professionals in every area, from performance to payroll tasks.

Explore with us where the travel industry is headed, technologically. The time has come to look at what the future holds for hospitality, and every travel vertical, as an industry that uses digital tools to better reach customers — and re-envisions itself along the way.

This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor Microsoft.

Photo Credit: Travel brands are putting digital experiences together with passengers and guests, shaping real-time customer experiences and recasting expectations across every leg of a trip. Microsoft