Razor-thin margins, constant disruption, and plenty of twists and turns – do these omens bode well for the travel industry? At MOBGEN, we believe that new technologies, and the business innovations they enable, are about to make travel great for all of us.
Exciting advances in fields such as AI, robotics, autonomous vehicles, VR, conversational interfaces and many others are already being used across the travel sector to offer new and improved services. More importantly, clever use of these technologies is crucial to businesses that wish to remain competitive – whether by reducing costs or by offering the excellent experience modern travellers expect.
Let’s have a look at a selection of travel innovations enabled by new technologies:
At the airport
With passenger traffic growing as much as 5% a year, the process of getting yourself and your suitcase through check-in, security and boarding can be daunting. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways airports can make the journey smoother and help ever more people on their way to a happy holiday. Some examples include:
- Universal service counters and mobile platforms allow passengers to get all the help and information they need anywhere in the terminal. Smart kiosks and mobile-empowered ground staff can significantly reduce queues and confusion.
- A combination of RFID tags, robotics and clever service design means baggage can be processed and tracked faster and more accurately than it is today. Calgary international is a great example of how these tools improve efficiency while avoiding unhappy baggage excursions, even for short connections and other disruptions.
- Location-enabled services, such as Beacons (see Miami), can smooth out the stressful path through a crowded concourse. Find your flight fast, or enjoy the small things that can make your journey that much more pleasant.
On the way
We began with airports, but many of our trips in the not-too-distant future will find us on new forms of transport: high-speed trains, Hyperloop, and autonomous Ubers that can bring you to your destination’s doorstep. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to help us enjoy our time inside these fancy tubes:
- In-flight entertainment is evolving quickly, with the advent of huge touchscreens, fast connectivity in planes and trains, and systems that connect to your own device for an ultra-personalised offering.
- Qantas has led the rollout of VR experiences for their passengers. A slew of startups has arisen to offer a new level of information and entertainment in an environment which is perfect for tuning into an alternate reality. And while we’re waiting for Elon Musk to get us there, you can already have a taste of Google’s Hello Mars.
- While not based purely on technology, companies like Icelandair have found a novel way to add a pleasing, unexpected experience on your journey: multi-day stopovers at no extra cost. Why not have a taste of Reykjavik on your way to that New York holiday?
At your destination
A significant trend in recent years is the broadening of services in travel platforms. Now you can not only reserve your flight, but sites will also let you book a hotel, rent a car, check the weather and find recommended places to visit. This is no small feat, considering the mind-boggling amount of data and context-specific conditions for each trip. Nevertheless, many companies are leveraging new technologies to create complete experiences for anyone, anywhere:
- In smart hotels you can personalise every aspect of your room’s lighting, comfort, and entertainment. Clever technology-enabled design helps you get by with less space, meaning hotels offer more rooms at affordable prices, without compromising on quality of service.
Mobile platforms like Wikitude (using AR) and apps like Detour (automated, location-based audio guides) let you travel like a pro, finding hidden gems at your own pace, in the way that suits you most.
- Conversational and search interfaces, most notably Facebook Messenger and Google, are creating new touchpoints through which diverse travel services can be offered. Google Trips and Google Destinations are great examples of how you can book and plan a trip without having to download an app or visit many websites. This builds on the broader trend to meet users where they are, using tools such as chatbots.
As we can see here, it’s an exciting time for the whole travel and transportation sector. New technologies, guided by solid service orientation, offer countless opportunities to improve our travel and even create entirely new experiences.
At this time of extreme competition, new technologies are essential for airlines, hotels, and other businesses in the travel sector to increase efficiency and remain competitive. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that these opportunities will not only improve bottom lines, but also let us have frictionless, enriching travel experiences – and more of them.