Digital technology has made summer getaways effortless – from booking trips, check-in and inflight entertainment to smart hotel rooms – vacationing has never been so easy.
A decade ago summer vacations probably involved bricks-and-mortar travel agencies, worries about whether or not your resort would live up to expectations and a dash to purchase a phrase book. Today however, you can check out deals and reviews on your smartphone, book and be on your way with a few taps of the screen.
According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation in the travel industry over the next ten years will generate benefits valued at $700 billion through reduced environmental footprint, improved safety and security and cost and time savings for consumers.
Here we look at six technologies that are making vacations easier:
1. Smart luggage
Some of the biggest travel headaches are caused by flat smartphone batteries and overweight or lost luggage. Smart luggage is making these anxieties a thing of the past. The Bluesmart Carry-on, for example, features a location tracker enabled by GPS and 3G technologies, remote digital luggage locking via a smartphone app, two USB chargers with 10,000 mAh capacity (enough to charge an iPhone six times), and a built-in weight sensor to ensure the suitcase is within airline limits.
2. AI-powered travel assistance
Need advice or more details on your travel plans? Bots are waiting to help you. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), travel chatbots will help work out complex travel arrangements. At the forefront of this trend is Expedia’s bot on Skype, designed to enable travelers to book, change or cancel plans. Expedia also has a “skill” for Amazon’s voice based assistant Alexa which allows travelers who have booked trips with the company to get further details on itineraries.
3. In-flight infotainment for personal devices
Inflight infotainment is becoming more personal. Juniper Research has forecast that over half the global fleet of commercial aircraft will offer inflight Wi-Fi services by 2022, compared with under a quarter in 2017. This is being driven by the trend for passengers’ bringing their own devices onboard. American Airlines has already ditched backseat monitors on its new fleet intended for domestic routes as passengers are bringing their own entertainment on digital devices.
4. Digital translation
Making yourself understood is vital when you are abroad. Digital technology is taking the traditional phrase book to the next level. With iTranslate Voice, for example, you simply speak a phrase and it will repeat it in English and translate it into your chosen language. For the written word, such as restaurant menus, a number of apps, such as Google’s Translate, can translate in real time by looking at the text through your smartphone’s camera. No more wondering what exactly you are ordering!
5. Smarter hotels
Virtual reality (VR) is the new frontier for hotel marketing, while smart rooms are offering the ultimate in digital service. Best Western Hotels and Resorts has created 360 degree videos for each of its properties that transform into a VR experience when viewed on a headset. Control4 technology is enabling guests to control drapes, lights, temperature, TV, music, schedule wake-up calls and requests valet service all from one intuitive remote at the Mandarin Oriental. Carnival Cruise Line has been quick to adopt the Internet of Things to automate operations. Guests are given wearable IoT medallions which open doors, provide personalized concierge services and enable wallet-free payments.
6. Intelligent resort planning
Technology is helping tourist boards improve how they cater for visitors. Compagnie du Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Tourist Office is using Orange Business Flux Vision to collect data from mobile networks to measure visitor numbers to reallocate resources such as public transport.
Connected devices collect and process data in real time, presenting an incredible opportunity for business. Find out more about how IoT and data solutions can enable you to increase productivity, improve quality of service, and create new business models here.
Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites, including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.