As technological advancements continue to progress, they are impacting the travel experience at all stages of the traveller journey. From viewing destinations in Virtual Reality (VR) before you leave to gaining enhanced information at top attractions using mobile-enabled Augmented Reality (AR) applications, the following five technologies are bound to influence the way you travel now and in the future.
1. Virtual Reality
VR offers a new and novel way to experience various destinations in a 360-degree immersive environment before you travel. You simply put on the VR headset and are immersed into the virtual world. This technology provides you with a feeling of being virtually present at the destination without having to leave your sofa.
You can explore various locations and activities within a specific destination, which can help you decide whether you want to visit and also allows you to better compare destinations. You can even take “virtual tours” of hotels so you can pick your favourite room and decide whether you like the hotel facilities.
There are many 360-degree virtual tours of destinations and travel experiences available on YouTube. Plus, you can pick up cheap VR headsets for as little as £5. With these headsets, you simply load up the 360-degree immersive VR video on your phone, pop your phone in the headset and become immersed into the virtual world. These type of headsets and content make VR and immersive travel experiences accessible to many.
Overall, VR has the potential to make the travel search phase much more exciting and informative because you can take a virtual walk-through of areas of interest and make more informed decisions on whether you would like to visit or not.
You can also re-live travel experiences back home by developing your own VR experience using your own video footage, or simply experiencing the destination in 360-degree immersive VR, just like you did before you left.
2. Augmented Reality
AR is mobile-enabled and often accessed through mobile applications on a smartphone. It blends (augments) virtual content on top of real world objects.
Therefore, when exploring a museum or destination for example, you simply load the AR application on your mobile device, point your device at the point of interest (e.g. Statue of Liberty), and virtual content such as images, text, video or audio will be overlaid on top of the real world.
By using AR applications, you can access more information and therefore become more educated on the destination, museum, art gallery etc. while having fun using an interactive and engaging application at the same time.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Travel-related companies such as hoteliers and tour operators are already using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide more personalised recommendations to travellers based on the huge amounts of data they have collected.
Hence, AI can benefit you as a traveller by providing more efficient, tailored and faster service through the traveller journey, which will likely enhance your overall trip. By having AI chatbots (e.g. direct messaging on hotel websites), you are guaranteed the ability to reach customer service around the clock too and often without being placed in a queue.
For companies, AI can save them money and time by conducting tasks traditionally undertaken by humans, which also eliminates human error and allows for tasks to be conducted at any time of the day or night.
Robots are mostly impacting the hotel sector and it is likely you will see more of them in the near future. For example, there may be robot-staff ready to assist you with checking in or robot concierge, and you might even experience robots in travel agencies and airports.
Robots benefit companies in the travel industry because they are more cost effective over time as they don’t require a salary, breaks or holidays, and overall provide greater consistency and accuracy than humans.
However, they do require maintenance costs and there is the limitation of human encounter, which many people enjoy when travelling. For you as a traveller, robots can make the experience more exciting and unique, therefore making it more memorable. Yotel in Singapore is an example of a hotel integrating smart technologies such as robots.
5. Smart Rooms
Smart rooms are the future of hotels. They are AI-enabled, which means you can potentially control the entire room with just your voice. The rooms listen and when you provide commands such as changing the lighting, music, blinds and temperature, the AI-enabled room can act accordingly. In China, smart rooms have already been implemented (e.g. InterContinental Hotels Groups (IHG)).
New technologies are constantly emerging and will continue to impact the travel industry including both travel companies and us as travellers. It’s exciting to think about the future travel experience and how we will be experiencing destinations in the future, don’t you think? Have you experienced any cool technologies while travelling recently?