We’re travelling further, faster, and smarter than ever before with a wealth of online tools at our disposal to make it happen. Euromoniter predicts that by 2017, around a third of online travel bookings will be made via mobile devices, and the format and ease of this process will change dramatically. We’re riding Ubers, sleeping in AirBnBs, and flying from our Flightscanners, but don’t be mistaken — this is only the beginning of the mobile travel tech revolution.
Text to book: messaging apps are the future
That’s right, we’re going back to text messaging. While on the scene since the advent of mobile communications, ‘messenger’ style apps allow anything from a hotel reservation to international flights to be booked via a simple text and a little artificial intelligence. Imagine texting (through, say, Facebook or Viber) a request for the cheapest flight from Sydney to London + a hotel for 3 nights. Once confirmed, booking instant restaurant and entertainment recommendations through a simple “yes” response. Chinese social phenomenon WeChat has already added this functionality, integrating bank and contact details so your boarding passes are automated and instant.
Skip the queue
Hilton Hotels and Starwood Group (home of the uber-hip W Hotel series) are leading the pack with their service apps. You can book rooms, check-in digitally on arrival and even use your device as a Bluetooth key-card without ever having to wait in a queue. Virgin’s Lucy App adds a personal, virtual concierge to the mix; offering to make bookings, choose entertainment, control room temperature, open room doors and show you what’s on in town, all whilst remembering your preferences for future stays.
Near Field Technology
We’ve touched on beacons in the past, and the travel industry is one of its earliest adopting categories. How you use your phone will be equally as important as where you use it. Bluetooth beacons are localised hubs that can push information to participating users when they come within a certain distance. Picture this: a Bluetooth beacon at airport security senses you have arrived and automatically pulls up your boarding pass for check-in. An integrated tag on your BlueSmart luggage notifies your phone when it has arrived on the carousel for pick up, as your hired Uber driver is notified that you’re ready to go and pulls up accordingly. Seamless travel aided by near-invisible technology without intrusion on the best parts of your trip — happy days!
As one of the fastest-growing markets of 2015, wearable tech will soon significantly enhance our travel experiences. Naturally, smartwatches are at the wearable frontier, with the SPG Group allowing smart-watch room keys, payment systems and check-in functionality. Eye-glass tech like Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens will integrate a digital display into your natural field of vision, with potential for a personal translator, guidebook, and navigation tool all in one.
Looking further towards the future, Virtual Reality (VR) will become synonymous with international travel. Instead of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, a VR headset on that long-haul flight could transport you to a camera on the nose of the plane, or better yet, that boardroom meeting you are missing on the way. The Marriott Group are already providing immersive previews into hotels around the world through Oculus Rift headsets, and you can now use EarthCam to preview your bucket list destinations in a ‘try before you buy’ deal.
There’s no doubt that mobiles will be the centre of attention in the travel industry moving forward, and all this tech will only allow us to see more of the world.
Now to pick the right Instagram filter…
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