Nowhere are changes and advances more obvious than in travel. From the arrival of air-travel to the advent of eco-tourism, each new transformation seems to shift the way we look at - and conduct - travel. So, looking forward to 2020, how will transformative technologies change our travel experiences over the next decade and beyond?
A new report, "From Chaos to Collaboration", developed for Amadeus by The Futures Company, has predicted a clear shift: travellers will become more akin to partners of their travel companies rather than their customers, and the wider context of the journey will be as important as the transactions made during it. At the heart of this new era of collaboration is a set of technologies and innovations that'll enable this to happen, some of which are already beginning to emerge.
Based on extensive research and input from key industry experts as well as research with travellers in Brazil, China, Russia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States, we predict there are six key areas in which future technology and innovation will be deployed to transform the travel experience.
Travel will become increasingly about the depth of the experience, rather than the breadth. Technologies such as augmented reality, gamification mechanisms (where applications are given the characteristics of games to make them more engaging) and smart mobile devices will transform our travel experiences. So when you're visiting The Great Wall of China you could use your mobile device to layer factual information or a vision of how it looked in the fifth century BC on top of the physical experience.
Checking-in, currently the bane of some travellers' journeys, could become the exception rather than the norm, with the rise of faster and more efficient identity management systems. Biometrics, long range fingerprinting and near field communications (NFC) promise to fast-forward how people move around. The airport is a great example. Short range wireless technology like NFC may allow travellers to pass through a gate that can recognise who they are, automatically checking them in. There is also the potential to apply the same approach to boarding passes, automating ever increasing elements of the travel process.
All data around payments and purchases made before and during a trip will be integrated: they'll act as a "digital memory" of expenditure and activity for individuals, groups and travel industry operators. Intelligent passenger records, 'digital breadcrumbs' and contactless technologies could be used to personalise and bundle services delivering higher value for travellers, and more profitable relationships between them and the companies they're travelling with.
Technologies will make it easier for people to "tag" and review all aspects of travel experiences. Driven by the subjectivity of travel experiences and our desire to relate to others with a similar outlook to our own, we will increasingly have access to reviews and opinions from our peer groups. Not just generic travellers as is the case today. Additionally, expert curators will offer your very own, personalised, real-time guidebook at your fingertips. The prospect of personal travel guides and mobile tour representatives will give travellers the tools they need to really enrich their experience.
The wellbeing agenda and changing demographics will place greater emphasis on removing the stress associated with all aspects of travel. Intelligent luggage tags and tickets will give greater reassurance that your bags are going to end up in the same place as you, whilst mobile-health applications will allow travellers to manage and monitor their health and wellbeing as if they were at home. We are already seeing some of these developments at airlines where its frequent travellers can be automatically recognized and are also benefiting from reduced lost baggage thanks to intelligent luggage tags based on RFID technology.
A continued emphasis on work-life balance and wellbeing at work may see the rise of the "business tourist" - those people who choose to take a few days holiday either side of a business trip to explore and experience a city, rather than seeing just the airport and conference centre. The needs of these travellers will engender speed and efficiency in communication technologies as well as a home-away-from-home.
It's impossible to make an intelligent or realistic prediction about the effect of technology without considering infrastructure, systems and business models, as well as social values and trends, all of which we have done extensively before making these assertions. We hope this study will challenge, provoke and stimulate thinking about how we will all be travelling in the future.
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