By Galt House Hotel Director of Sales Lance George via LinkedIn
While the fundamentals of the workplace have seen massive change with growing information technologies and smart devices, travel is also undergoing a startling metamorphosis. Those who have had the experience of jumping around the world for business meetings, conferences and networking know that traveling for work can be quite harrowing. From booking the flight to returning home to the warm comfort of your own bed, there are a million steps along the way that are fraught with hassle. However, things are about to change.
Business travel is growing fast. Over the next decade the world’s population will increase by more than one billion people. Amadeus, an IT provider for travel and tourism, predicts that the global travel market will swell 5.4% per year, outpacing the world’s GDP growth by 2% annually. Travel spending is expected to jump to $1.4 trillion by 2020. That’s a huge chunk of change that travel entities will be competing for – and they know it. New technologies, such as big data, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are being looked at in order to transform your lack of hassle into their reward. So what can we look forward to in the near future? Turns out, quite a lot.
What you want, when you want it
Digitization has transformed the way that we interact with the world. The mammoth amount of data we collect means that companies can figure out exactly what their customers want without the need of a tiny sample of people in a board meeting brainstorming their own personal preferences or what they think others might enjoy. Microsoft predicts that 85% of customer interactions will be done online by 2020. With all that travel data in our hands, we will likely see a huge amount of customization and services directed at what the individual actually wants.
For example, preferences such where to sit on the plane can be customized for the best travel experience. Are your coworkers or friends on the plane? Are you looking to network with similar types? Are you more worried about catching nap on the flight? Seating a 47-year-old IT guy from New York next to a 32-year-old tech engineer from LA instead of a grandma from Wisconsin sounds like a good pairing – not that we all wouldn’t enjoy grandma’s company. Simple algorithms based on your exact data can predict what you might like and construct every leg of your trip around your needs, personality and particularities.
Massive connectivity is fashioning a world where small tasks are streamlined – and not just our own. Systems are becoming intertwined, and we will most likely start seeing the end of the disconnected systems of commerce, e-commerce and m-commerce. Platforms will likely be immediately linked in order to ease the process. Visiting a hundred different travel sites, buying with dislocated payment methods and being given a vast amount of options that you wouldn’t ever consider will be a thing of the past.
Additionally, a lot of work is being done to construct specific artificial intelligence systems, such as chatbots, specifically for travel. These mini personalities are becoming ever more intelligent and can directly solve the many pain points that come along with travel. These little behind-the-scene friends could manage a connection change without you having to and prompting taxis as you leave the airport with your destination already known. There’s no reason not to have a panic button on your phone should something go wrong, with smart 24/7 assistance available.
Updated security protocols
Getting through security at any airport takes up a very large chunk of time, mostly for those international flyers. For business travelers, this can often take the time away from face time with clients or a much-needed nap before a meeting. Advanced monitoring and universal databases can make this process a breeze. Other new technologies, such as long-range retinal and facial scans can make identifying those in a crowd a fast and easy process. Passports can be digitally optimized in order to optimize pre-flight screening. Those looking to pass fast will be able to opt for these services.
Different information systems, such as Blockchain, are already being used to strengthen and secure the exchange of sensitive information. Blockchain is more of an architecture than information technology. Using this format, transactions become unchangeable and extremely secure. It’s basically the backbone of new cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Nowadays people are using the type of digital system to organize restricted personal information in order to protect us. Those worried about having their information stolen or changed can be put more at ease. In the future, these faster and more secure types of data management systems will likely be incorporated into airport security.
Artificial intelligence, virtual reality and predictive analytics are expected to contribute $15.7 trillion to the worldwide economy by 2030, with 55% of that coming from increased productivity. Hotels can use these technologies to immediately know guest preferences, such as lighting, diet and venue choices. Chatbots can appear on guest’s walls using augmented reality and suggest a nice spot to grab their favorite steak, tell them who might also be in town and recognize immediate needs, such as if the guest had a meal on their flight or not.
Check ins can be completely transformed with facial recognition and digital wallets, with transactions happening seamlessly and immediately upon entering. Those behind the counter will more likely be there to support the tired guest as opposed to taking up their time, entering data onto a computer and issuing a key.
As technology swings forward, we are seeing a whole new world of possibility and ease being put down before us. The digital information age is set to simplify processes and break down problems so that we can get to doing the things we want to do. This leaves business travelers with just one question: are we there yet?