Innovations in travel technology will continue to transform the tourism industry, with cloud passports, personalised travel, virtual reality and apps predicted to re-shape consumer habits and marketing strategies over the short to mid-term, according to a report by Colliers International.
In its Tourism and Technology Trends report, produced ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 24 – 27 April 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre, Colliers International named five trends driving the travel industry: biometric-enabled baggage solutions; cloud passports; personalised travel; spontaneous travel apps; and virtual reality travel.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Biometric technology will play a significant role in the evolution of baggage tracking systems and immigration clearance, with some forward thinking names already introducing such technology to the industry, such as Dutch airline KLM and Dubai International Airport. In addition, we can expect travel related services to be further developed to enhance personalisation through guest data. Dubai is already at the forefront of travel technology and the discussion now is how far we can take that without travellers finding it intrusive.”
On the other side of the industry, Colliers has identified four defining evolutions of hospitality technology. The first is the utilisation of beacons to pilot Bluetooth across public spaces, allowing for on demand flash marketing within the property or guest identification. The second, ease of alternative accommodations, focusses on channels such as Airbnb.com, and the increasing appetite for experiential travel without the need for hotels. In addition, virtual payment systems and integrated smart phone apps are also tipped to be highly influential.
Press added: “When it comes to technology in hospitality we have seen a complete transformation of the hotel space over the last decade and that same pace of change is set to continue. This will be based on connectivity and the sharing economy. Guests want instant access to useful services and easy solutions to common issues. Dubai is set to welcome its first Bluetooth-connected property in the near future and alternative payment gateways such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, along with the use of apps to personalise the hotel experience, are beginning to have a significant influence on hotel operations.”
Virtual reality travel has already been popularised by Marriott International with its Travel Brilliantly campaign, which heavily focused on promoting destinations first. The chain has also pioneered VRoom Service, a first-of-its-kind guest service that allows guests to order inspiring virtual reality experiences to their rooms, created in collaboration with Samsung Electronics America.
In Dubai, Emaar Hospitality was one of the first to introduce in-room iPads for guest to do everything from book dinner to control their environment and even draw the curtains. The use of the iPads helped to increase in-room spending through flash promotions sent directly to guests.
Drone photography is also expected to increase in popularity due to its ability to capture hard to reach locations and the sustained popularity of image-led social networking sites.
Press added: “Like the rest of the world, the travel industry is adapting to our highly digitised lives and this is presenting huge opportunities for innovative thinkers to pioneer new solutions. This penchant for change and adaptation will surely set new benchmarks for the industry.”
The ATM Travel Tech theatre will return in 2017 with a focus on experiential travel and sessions scheduled to feature Twitter’s Ahmad Absi, who also spoke in 2016 on the topic of travel audiences on Twitter. Absi specialises in how Twitter performs across the purchase funnel and the behaviour of the Twitter travel audience.
He will be joined by Paul Richer, senior partner at Genesys, who will host a two-hour summit exploring what digital transformation is and how travel businesses can execute it.
Another key theme at ATM 2017 will be the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in travel and how such technology could help make travel and tourism safer in future, with insight into global consumer reactions to the role of robots and AI in travel.
ATM 2017 is on course to welcome more than 70 tech travel exhibitors.