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The Impact of Tech on the Travel Industry

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by Startacus Admin

Future tech trends that could impact the travel industry going forward - a guest article by Sahil ShahCEO of Sujestera personalised travel inspiration platform for the travel sector.
tech trends that could impact the travel industry

Travel is a highly fragmented and highly centralised industry at the same time. It is able to be at the cutting edge of technology, and void of it at the same time. Technological developments such as AI, VR, chatbots, voice search and self-driving vehicles amongst others will change the nature of the industry, such that it will be unrecognisable in 10 years.
 

The travel industry has a history of being disrupted by tech, first with web 1.0 where Expedia and Priceline gave people an alternative to a travel agent, and do it yourself (DIY) packaging first became mainstream. More recently, we’ve seen the sharing economy do the exactly same thing with Airbnb, Uber and BlaBlacar amongst others disrupting hotels, taxi-cab firms etc.
 
Here are some of the trends that I think will emerge in the industry, and what they’ll be underpinned by.
 

Space Travel
tech and the travel industry

 
This one may be a bit of a moonshot (pardon the pun) in the next 20 years, but the cost and price of space travel is likely to drop significantly in the next 20 years, with companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Atlantic. Space travel is likely to remain a luxury proposition but will be much more accessible to a wider number of people in the next 20 years.
 

Chatbots, Voice Search and AI

 
Travel search is of high complexity, with countless options for flights and hotels. I think the next 10 years will see a shift away from the traditional search when it comes to transactions, with greater trust in voice interfaces (i.e. Alexa and Google Home), and chatbots - which are likely to provide 1 or 2 ‘best’ results, unlike current long lists. AI will dramatically decrease the time taken to complete the transactional side of travel, i.e. booking accommodation and transport and people will invest time instead into destination choice and finding unique experiences.

 

Smart Hotels
tech and the travel industry

The hotel of the future will be a lot more like home. The smart fridge will know what food you want in your minibar before you arrive and stock it in advance. Interconnected devices such as air conditioning will be preconfigured to your preferences and will adapt in real time, i.e. by reading data from your wearable devices that monitor skin temperature. The Smart Hotel of the future is all about convenience, service and making the hotel feel more like home.
 

VR/AR

 
Tourist boards are already investing in VR content, and travel has one of the most compelling use cases for utilising VR content. VR content is already being used by large hotel chains to help people select and ‘preview’ what rooms will be like, along with large retail travel agents who are operating concept stores for people to ‘preview’ destinations. 
 
As VR content becomes more accessible and mobile orientated - there will be huge opportunities for travel companies to product both informational and inspirational content. Content will most likely be used to inspire people to visit destinations or partake in experiences, but there is a possibility that it may end up replacing the experience/destination for some users.
 

Travel Agent 2.0

tech and the travel industry 
The death of the travel agent has been declared for almost 20 years, since Expedia and Priceline started to gain traction. However, travel tech companies are delivering more personalised recommendations to individuals and are starting to offer better digital experiences with seamless booking.
 
Consolidation will happen within the travel agent industry, and those that thrive will be those who embrace technology most. Millennials are the generation most likely to book travel with a travel agent (Skift), due to their focus on experiential and unusual travel and the Millennial desire for convenience. The role of the agent will change from one that’s transactional (as booking/searching itself will become more seamless) to a more advisory role, with niche, deep knowledge being their core value proposition.
 
Travel Agents will need to partner with technology providers that help them at the inspirational stage - as this is where they’ll differentiate themselves in the customer journey.
 
Sujester is a personalised travel inspiration platform for the travel sector (especially agents), enabling them to provide value to their customers at the inspiration stage whilst capturing their wider and long term aspirations - making it much easier to retain them. 
 
Contact the CEO, Sahil Shah at [email protected] to learn more.
 

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Published on: 10th August 2017

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