As if the world wasn’t already hurtling towards ever-more futuristic technology at a startling rate, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented need for swift change. To stay relevant and accessible, it has been more important than ever for businesses within the travel industry to keep up with the latest technology trends. Here are the latest technology trends in the travel and tourism industry that are here to stay.
Although not new pre-pandemic, contactless payments were somewhat of a novelty that was gradually emerging as a technology of convenience. When COVID-19 hit, they quickly became a technology of necessity, allowing for minimal contact in an environment already on high alert.
Raul Ccolque, Founder of Alpaca Expeditions, says, “While contactless payments are becoming more widespread across South America, tour operators in remote regions are not yet able to reliably offer contactless options. It’s still advised to carry local currency when traveling remotely. The best way to know for sure is to reach out to your tour operator directly.”
Virtual reality (VR)
The travel industry suffered devastating losses at the hands of the pandemic and will be reeling from the hardships for some time to come. The competition to secure new travel bookings as the fears of the virus subside will be fierce, as will be the persuasion for reluctant travelers to hit the ‘book now’ button.
Using VR tours, prospective customers can experience virtual hotel and restaurant tours, landmarks and national park visits, and even specific local events. Most VR tours are compatible with mainstream internet browsers. Any travel business offering virtual reality experiences as part of their customer’s deliberations will be ahead of the game by most standards for some time to come.
Another technology that has seen a sudden rush through on account of the pandemic is recognition technology. Still relatively in its infancy, this technology has the potential to make interactions entirely seamless. The technology includes facial and fingerprint recognition, retina scanning, and other biometric identifiers.
Fingerprint identification is already being used by some hotels to facilitate high-tech room entry. However, in the future, it is anticipated that the technology may make it possible for customers to pay for a meal simply by walking through the exit.
Known traveler digital identity (KTDI)
KTDI is designed to create a frictionless travel experience while allowing passengers to have greater control over their personal data. Data relating to a person’s identity is securely stored on their mobile device, which they can consent to share with border authorities, airlines, etc. Using biometrics, their identity data is checked between every leg of their journey, without the need for a physical passport.
The World Economic Forum has recently worked with the Netherland and Canadian governments to launch a pilot project for this paperless travel option between these two countries at Montreal Airport.
We’ve long been becoming an increasingly impatient species and we’ve become used to the reality that, if we aren’t getting instantaneous answers from one place, we’ll soon find them from somewhere else. This is why AI-powered chatbot technology can be one of the simplest and most effective travel tech investments a business can make.
Typically, chatbots are most effective for answering common questions or responding to policy queries (which has been most helpful regarding COVID-19 related safety policies). Chatbot technology is, however, advancing quickly and enabling more and more interactions.
Radiofrequency identification (RFID)
RFID is a wireless communication that can be utilized to track objects fitted with an RFID-embedded tracker chip. The International Air Travel Association (IATA) recommends that airlines use the RFID technology for baggage tracking, providing real-time information that allows airlines to track baggage efficiently throughout all airport processes.
British Airways currently offers a reusable digital bag tag that allows for a seamless connection between your luggage and the BA app. This allows travelers to keep track of their own luggage throughout the baggage handling and traveling process and in turn, helps to reduce mishandling and lost luggage.
Internet of things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to utilizing the internet to create inter-connectivity between smart devices, allowing for them to send and receive data, and this technology is becoming more prevalent within the travel industry.
IoT can, for example, be used by hotels to provide customers with a device that controls multiple amenities such as lights, air conditioners, and televisions.
These, like so many emerging tech trends, are not entirely new, yet in many cases have found far swifter routes to market in the wake of COVID-19. The pandemic forced industries to think faster and smarter with regards to how to stay in business and keep their patrons safe, and in doing so, tech trends of the future have been brought forward and will be here to stay.