The pace of technological change and its impact on the travel industry is incredible; travel has never been so easy, accessible, fast or enjoyable. Innovation in the travel industry has always been closely tied with advancements in platform technology and adoption. For example, as the uptake in smartphones grew, so did e-ticketing, mobile check-in and travel apps. Today, the technology that is currently in its infancy will change the travel experience in the foreseeable future - from where we look to go, how we book, how we get there and even how we experience it.
At the airport
Modern technology has made travelling through the airport seamless, it's never been easier. For example, face recognition technology is used at passport control, an app can alert you to delays and your boarding pass is on your smartphone having checked in online. As hologram technology has advanced, some airports have even installed Virtual Assistant Holograms to give directions and instructions to travellers.
As technology continues to develop in the digital age and we carry increasingly less physical documentation, it's plausible to envisage a future where our passports also become digital, electronically stored on our smartphones for example. Although iris recognition technology wasn't at a high enough standard at the end of last year for UK border control, as the technology continues to improve, it could replace the need for a physical passport altogether.
One of the most significant impacts that technology advancement has had on the travel industry is how accessible it has made tourism. New low-cost airlines for example have made travel more physically accessible, but with more routes and more flights, finding the right option can become increasingly complex. In addition, digital technology and sophisticated mobile apps mean that travel companies need to cut through this complexity and reduce it to an interaction that works with just a couple of taps. Thanks to the internet (travel websites, blogs, forums, social media, apps) we have so much information at our fingertips that we can research, plan and book a holiday on the move or from the comfort of our living room.
Using these digital tools to plan our trips provides the travel industry with valuable information about our preferences. Explorers have always looked to the information they can piece together from those who have gone before. Now we are seeing travel companies leveraging big data to do so on a massive digital scale. By aggregating huge volumes of data based on the patterns of those who have booked before they can make more accurate suggestions and recommendations to save time and money in finding the right trip.
The key is to have enough data and the skills to use it effectively.Travel companies' are fine tuning their big data strategies and predictive analytics systems. As devices become ever more connected in the not so distant future, you may be able to expect your smart device to update or pre-book a hire car from your favourite company based on your flight times by learning your preferences.
We are currently in a very exciting time for wearable technology: at the brink of some ground-breaking advancements and we're seeing the technology already being used in travel. For example, some airline check-in assistants and concierge have begun to wear Google Glass to deliver a high-tech and personalised customer service experience.
If wearable technology is to adopt online translation tools as well, it could make it easier for us to communicate with people around the world, experience a destination and immerse ourselves into a culture allowing us to travel like a local.
Another major advantage new technology has brought to the travel industry, is that it has become much easier to get from A to B so you can focus on actually enjoying your holiday. For example, live departure notifications ensure we can get on with enjoying our experience without missing our flights or waiting around for hours and it has never been easier to stay in touch with family and friends.
Technology has come a long way in the past 15 years and the travel industry is barely recognisable as a result. We have some ground-breaking technological advancement to look forward to in the next 15 years like futuristic planes that will reduce travel times dramatically by taking us via space, as well as wearable technology that will accompany us on all of our adventures.
The spirit of discovery remains very strong and what we see is that far from replacing travel or detracting from the experience, travellers will be using technology to fully explore a destination without being distracted by the admin and logistics of travel.