The travel industry is evolving so rapidly that new innovations are more akin to disruptions than advancements.
The growth of businesses like Uber and Airbnb have had a seismic impact on the way we travel. For instance, firms book business trips in a completely different manner than they did 20 years ago. Equally, 5, 10 or 20 years from now technology may make the process entirely different still. As a result, major players in the travel industry are already partnering up with technology startups to preempt these new innovations, advancements, and disruptors. Here, discover the new technology which is changing the face of the travel industry.
1. Big data
With the exponential growth of online booking, the amount of data generated by the travel industry has increased significantly. Now, travel companies have incredible volumes of customer data. These data can be deployed to implement predictive analytics, refine marketing strategy, and streamline operations. This wealth of information has transformed the way travel companies operate, strategize and generate revenue.
2. Mobile first
Mobile devices already play a leading role in how we book travel. Furthermore, mobile devices can provide amazing insights into every stage of the booking. From purchase, to check in, to boarding and throughout the trip, mobile devices can provide instantaneous micro-moments. Therefore, mobile solutions that make travel smoother will become increasingly in demand. For example, e-tickets, e-check in, e-concierge and speedy digital payments all present opportunities to deliver an improved experience to the customer.
Blockchain is one of the most innovative and interesting technologies that has appeared in the last decade. Now, virtually every industry is seeking to incorporate this technology in some way – and travel is no exception. Currently, companies like LockTrip have begun to implement blockchain backend tools to streamline numerous business functions that competitors can only deliver using third party providers. For instance, while Airbnb or Booking.com is certainly easy, they do not inform customers that they are paying for credit card processing.
In contrast, blockchain platforms avoid the costs associated with booking management by hosting their hotel marketplace on LockTrip. Users can use tokens to book with no fees while reducing other overheads that both users and hotels benefit from. LockTrip now has over 100,000 on their market place and is quickly proving how new innovations can optimize operational efficiency.
4. VR and AR
Until very recently, companies have been reluctant to invest in virtual reality technology. Previously, the cost was prohibitive and there was skepticism as to whether or not it was a sustainable investment. However, online travel giants are becoming increasingly interested in the possibilities of virtual reality. As more and more people have access to VR hardware at home, companies like Expedia are considering how they can make their listings VR-ready.
5. Voice recognition
The use of voice-activated assistants is already widespread. Soon, tools like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa will allow customers to book travel with a simple verbal command. According to Travelport’s Global Digital Traveler Research 2017, nearly 47% of customers already use voice search technology to research vacations and business trips.
6. Artificial intelligence
The boundary between the tech and the travel industry is shifting dramatically. Travel companies are increasingly using artificial intelligence to deliver faster and more personalized results to customers. Driven by big data and new innovations in analytics, platforms with built-in learning capabilities are keeping up with the customer demand for travel information delivered in real-time.
7. Digital payments
Society is becoming increasingly cashless. Digital money transfers are more and more commonplace, with the advent of online banking and contactless payments. Alongside a plethora of digital payment technologies, consumers also need to move towards a better understanding of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Looking to the future, tech experts believe these tools could have a major impact on the travel industry, creating major advancements and market disruptions.
8. Biometric ID
Imagine if you never had to remember your passport ever again. With rapid advancements in biometric technology, the paper passport could soon be a thing of the past. Although not yet mainstream, there are already some examples of how biometric technologies are being implemented. For example, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and Dutch airline KLM partnered up to trial facial-recognition software. This technology allowed passengers to board without showing tickets or identification after having their image recorded at a special kiosk.
9. Autonomous driving
Sightseeing is likely to be the first area of travel that autonomous driving will impact. Currently, experts predict every existing vehicle-based sightseeing provider will transition to autonomous vehicles by 2025. However, this is not the only area that faces disruption. Soon, it is likely that airport transfers will also incorporate autonomous vehicles. This is also something that the hotel industry can capitalize on, by implementing branded autonomous airport transfers.
Regardless of which application gains the most traction, it is clear the line is blurring between the travel and automotive industries. According to Alex Bainbridge, CEO of Autoura, which creates technology to power autonomous vehicle-based sightseeing, “We are going to end up with all these car companies in the travel industry. They are all shifting to services rather than selling cars. We are used to having Booking, Ctrip, TripAdvisor, Expedia as the big companies in our sector. Turns out the car companies are bigger.”
10. Electronic luggage tags
Now, major airlines are testing technology that allows customers to check their bags from home. In 2013, British Airways were testing BagTag, a new at-home luggage tagging service. Meanwhile, German luggage manufacturer Rimowa has developed an electronically tagged suitcase and app that allows travelers to check their bag with their smartphone. Currently, the product is only compatible with Lufthansa. However, Rimowa is in the process of testing the technology with United, Condor, and Thomas Cook. Given the efficiency implications of this product, it is certain that this feature will enjoy the same uptake as mobile boarding passes.
New innovations are changing the face of travel
It is certain that technology is having a major impact on the future of the travel industry. With new innovations transforming the customer journey, it is evident that the way we travel in 10 years time could be entirely different. Therefore, it is crucial that companies stay abreast of these new developments. That way, they can ensure they can continually deliver the customer their dream vacation, right now and in the future.