Travel is more accessible than ever thanks to lower prices, increased options, and the introduction of technology. Apps like TripAdvisor and Yelp, access to online translators, GPS technology, and online guidebooks are just a few of the innovations travelers have come to rely on for a positive travel experience.
What you might not be aware of is how much airlines, hotels, and other travel companies also rely on technology. Tech is changing the traveling landscape even behind the scenes, making it more efficient, cheaper, and more customizable.
Here are some of the ways technology is making traveling easier, plus new technology we’re likely to see in the coming years.
The most innovative travel companies have found ways to communicate with travelers in the way most of our communication is done nowadays: through cell phones. Depending on which airline you usually fly, you may have started getting texted flight confirmations, e-boarding passes, and digital updates about delays and cancellations. This innovation feels like a natural extension of the booking process, and it’s essential for the modern traveler.
In an age of push notifications and updates, the best way to communicate urgent information is through an immediate update like a text or push notification. This is especially convenient for travel because the information is given in an app that the customer already uses, not an additional app they might forget to check. Today’s travelers aren’t checking their flight status before they leave the house—they’re expecting information to come to them if anything changes.
This strategy works for the traveler, of course, but it’s also great for the airline. By alerting passengers immediately of any changes, they’re building brand trust, communicating that they understand what their customers want to know, and keeping travelers in the loop as soon as possible. It also gives their customers information right away, putting power and options into their hands. Instead of arriving at the airport to find a delayed flight and be forced to stand in line with the other disgruntled passengers, mobile communication can connect passengers to the airline’s website, call center, or other places to rectify problems more quickly.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing technology that involves putting internet sensors in items like cars, suitcases, thermostats, and more. You’ve most likely interacted with it through some form of “smart” homeware—a refrigerator, thermostat, or lock system that can be controlled through an app on your phone. The IoT is still a developing technology, not yet in widespread use in the traveling industry, but we’re starting to see its potential for innovation.
Hotels that have started to implement the IoT have touted it as “the future of travel,” allowing travelers to have a customizable room that already knows their preferences and is ready for them on arrival. This could include skipping the front desk to be let into their room through biometrics or an app, temperature control and television streaming apps that are pre-determined and ready for their arrival, and mapping technology that guides them through a pre-planned trip.
Companies like Disney, Hilton, and Carnival Cruise Line are already exploring how far the IoT can go in customizing travel experience. If you’re curious about how this can work and what it looks like in action, this article maps out a day in a Disney park or a stay in a Hilton hotel room with access to this type of technology.
Hotels have started integrating customizable voice assistants, that many Americans already use in their homes, in their hotel rooms. Marriott has experimented with both Siri and Alexa iterations that are specifically designed for hotel use. These assistants can do things like adjust room lighting and provide information about tourist attractions nearby.
While all technological innovations come with security concerns, virtual assistants have been met with the most fraught response in recent years. Even with security measures like all data being deleted after each traveler’s hotel stay, some travelers don’t want technology that involves a microphone in their room. This explains why this tech isn’t already in wide use yet and could limit its expansion in the future.
Augmented Virtual Reality
The increasing technology of virtual reality is allowing tourists to try out hotels, attractions, and experiences before they even leave the house. Some Marriott locations allow users to use this tech, which they call VR Postcards. It lets users see hotel rooms before they book, helping to ensure they’re happy with their experience.
Augmented reality overlays projections onto the real world, and it has a number of potential applications in the tourism industry. So far, it’s been used to create interactive maps and to help travelers experience hotel rooms and tourist attractions.
Many of these individual technological advances work together to create an improved traveler experience, and big data is involved in almost every facet of technological improvement. Big data is used to track travelers’ information and remember their preferences. If they’ve booked a flight to a destination, big data can be used to suggest hotels in the area. It’s often used in marketing campaigns, allowing hotels and other travel companies to market as directly as possible to the intended audience for a particular promotion. Big data plays a huge part in making the personalization of the Internet of Things possible. While the IoT aims to create a custom environment, big data knows how to customize it.
Future uses of big data include streamlined trip planning, software that knows your priorities when it comes to booking hotels and flights (for example, if you always fly first class, if you would never consider a flight before 9 a.m., or if you stay primarily in hotels under $200 a night). Big data could allow for the creation of a system that knows what you want and helps you find it fast, which companies like Amadeus are testing now.
Increased travel technology, when used correctly, creates a better and more efficient experience for travelers and travel companies alike. We’re so excited about the ways travel is changing, and we can’t wait to see future developments. Head to Roomkey.com to start your next hotel search and experience the enhancements of travel technology for yourself.
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