What are the technology trends affecting travel?

Travel technology

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THE FUTURE of travel looks to be technology packed, quick and convenient.

Technology has already allowed travelers to overcome too many trivial but frustrating problems such as making reservations from far away, translating airport signs, communicating with local taxi drivers, paying for things quickly and securely, and curating personal and unique experiences.

All these expectations attached to travel would have been luxury add-ons to a standard vacation a few decades ago, but they are now essential to ensure a good vacation.

On a more advanced level, the future of technology in travel will allow people to fly from London to New York in under four hours as billionaire Richard Branson has announced a collaboration with Boom to reintroduce supersonic travel.

The travel industry is also the fastest growing global employment sector. The industry was responsible for creating seven million new jobs in 2017 and contributed US$8.3 trillion to the global gross domestic product.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the travel industry or even just going on vacation, and a new study by Sabre Labs is adding to the excitement.

Sabre Labs recently released its 2018 Emerging Technology in Travel report, which outlines how progressive technologies are going to further evolve the travel industry.

Check-in booths and even booking vacations are usually entirely automated now. Source: Shutterstock.

The report names automation, authenticity and blockchain technologies as the main themes which are set to play a major role in the travel industry’s future.

“Increasingly, people are coming to understand that the travel business is really a technology business,” Sabre Labs director Philip Likens said.

“Even the simplest journey generates huge amounts of data. Collecting, indexing, and understanding that data – and how we apply that understanding to improve every traveler’s experience,” he added.

Of course, each of these topics is very broad and the ways in which they could improve the travel industry are extensive.

But here is a short break down of how automation, authenticity, and blockchain will affect your future travels.

Automation

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While automation is no new fleet of technology, it’s constantly evolving to enhance customer experience and aid work productivity.

Check-in booths and even booking vacations are usually entirely automated now.

Travel agents have become obsolete and gone are the days of endless baggage check-in queues.

However, the artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the type that has no consciousness but can still learn as they go along through algorithms, is starting to stamp its place in the hotel industry.

A whole hotel in Japan is run by robots, and one is a dinosaur. Cool.

Henn na Hotel is operated by multi-lingual robots who help you to check-in and maintain the cloakroom.

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While this is currently a novelty, AI robotic staff could very easily be making an appearance in a hotel near you soon.

Authenticity

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Authenticity has long been an issue not just in the travel industry, but throughout the world in every industry.

Even sectors such as politics and banking are constantly berated for lacking transparency and providing voters and customers with a reason to distrust the organizations. The same can be said for the travel industry.

But hopefully, with no authenticity measure, the travel horror stories of people being ripped off will be a thing of the past.

Authenticity within the travel sector is about being able to create or recreate an experience of simplicity, certainty, and trust.

Virtual reality plays a big role in authenticity as it can entice a customer to book a vacation if they can first see what their holiday experience may be like.

Instead of reading words on a screen and looking at staged pictures, they can semi-first-hand experience what their trip will entail.

With this information, travel companies can tailor unique experiences for each individual guest.

Authenticity means we can say goodbye to the “one package fits all” travel approach and hello to a warm hotel welcome with your favorite drink waiting for you.

Blockchain

Most people know of blockchain technology because of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

But these overshadow the magnificent ways blockchain technology is playing a pivotal role in other industries. Namely, the travel industry.

The blockchain is built on secure “trustless” distributed leger technology and will eventually allow people to travel around the world without needing to carry a physical wallet or passport.

However, don’t ditch your passport anytime soon as blockchain is most certainly still in its infancy and has plenty of rough edges to first smooth out before it can be utilized in every international terminal.

“Tomorrow’s travelers have a set of expectations fueled by ubiquitous access to information, smooth transactional experiences, and increasingly personalized offers,” added Likens.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for companies to begin thinking about how their brand can be agile enough to meaningfully interact with tomorrow’s travelers.”