Digital Natives, Digital Travelers Own the Travel Experience

In essence, travelers will create and share their own travel experience. They, not tourism officials or travel writers, will shape and determine the nature and quality of travel.

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis , Director of the eTourism Lab at Bounemouth University (UK) , tells us what we already intuit: the world "is going to be totally interactive, using personalization, context information and inter-connected devices" that will change the face of travel, already a dynamic, fragmented industry.

Reporting in TNooz the "talking travel tech" site, Buhalis identifies two groups that will change the way we travel and the way marketers sell travel:

Generation X, (GenX baby boomers born after 1950) which already accounts for more than 21% of the world's population, have become active travelers making use of the new technologies at every stage of the long tail of effect becoming "Digital Travelers."

• And "digital natives," who grew up virtually from day one exposed to and using information communication technology (ICT).

While the tourism industry will still have to employ content to attract travelers to their destinations and properties with the promise of "meaningful and memorable experiences," the travelers themselves will be creating their own memorable and meaningful experiences by engaging in interactive technologies on the road.

This is a powerful coming together of social and search.

With social media tools and mobile devices, the digital natives and Gen X travelers will be constantly sharing their experiences and opinions, using interactive videos,  "private cloud computing and face/pattern/image recognition," creating on-going collective interaction, and dynamic visualization opportunities.

In essence, the travelers will create and share their own travel experience. They, not the tourism officials, will shape and determine the nature and quality of the travel experience, and the travel industry will have to monitor the social media world and respond and react with flexibility, speed and service to stay in touch, and keep up with what these travelers are seeing, doing and sharing.

In a very real sense, the travel industry must become the co-creator of the travel experience with the traveler.

While technology allows for amazing connectivity among people and systems, it is still the value of the travel that matters. Travel marketers and leaders have to work in harmony with the new technologies and technology-enabled traveler. If not, they'll be talking and selling to themselves as the digital travelers move past them.


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