Tech and tourism

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I’m planning a trip with some friends, and I think it’s kind of amazing how much it can be done (or even has to be done) online. I grew up with the internet, of course, but I have to think that this must be weird to people like my parents, who must remember calling to make reservations and stuff. I’m curious about this change and what it has really meant to travel and the tourism industry. What can the experts tell me about the way travel and tech have become intertwined?

There’s no question that technology has revolutionized the way we travel. Years ago, there was no way to book a vacation online; today, digital travel sales top $190 billion each year. Even apps and services that you might not think of as travel-related are in on the action–for instance, more than half of us get social media involved in our leisure travel planning process. And we’re increasingly relying on mobile devices to do all of this.

This has benefits for consumers, of course. Booking online can be significantly simpler than booking through traditional methods, and online tools make it relatively easy to compare prices between different airlines and hotels. Many sites even put hotel and airlines prices on the same page in an attempt to become one-stop shops for booking vacations.

And this isn’t just about planning, of course. Mobile app company Acendia, which works with nonprofits like zoos and museums, is one of many companies that is helping apps supplant everything from paper zoo maps to museum audio tours.

Hotels, attractions, and tourism bureaus like Explore Henry County need to adapt to this new reality, they say: websites, apps, and online services are now must-haves for tourism industry companies.

But while they must adapt, these organizations often find that their changes are for the better. They save on resources and enjoy new tools for automation, data collection, and security.

For all that has changed about vacations, though, there are still a lot of things that feel the same. Vacations themselves are still fundamentally about relaxation and exploring, and even the planning stages can still feel familiar: for instance, travel agencies have made an unexpected comeback in the digital age.

And travel is still a big-time industry. With billions of dollars flying around, don’t expect tech and travel to go their separate ways anytime soon.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” — J.R.R. Tolkein

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