The new year brings renewed hope for a return to normal in all aspects of life, and perhaps nowhere is it more highly anticipated than in the travel industry. The pandemic delayed many travelers’ dream vacations last year, but those getaways are increasingly alluring and attainable today. As more people head out for adventure, they will find exciting advances in technology that enhance their long-awaited experiences. Here are a few of the ways technology will improve travel in 2021.
Speaking Up Is Powerful
Voice search and voice control are increasingly commonplace for owners of smart speakers and smartphones. For the travel industry, this technology has great potential for enhancing the overall user experience. Voice search is a convenient way for customers to search for destinations, compare prices, and book flights, hotels, and rental cars. For example, by simply saying the words cruises from Florida, a travel customer could quickly access all the exciting options.
Voice control has exciting applications during the actual travel experience. Imagine a hotel room or cruise ship stateroom where everything, from lighting to climate control to tourist information, can be accessed with a simple question or command.
Artificial Intelligence Is Smarter
Another popular technology that eases the travel experience is the use of chatbots on travel websites. Customers love this option because they can quickly receive answers to common questions, no matter the time of day, without having to wait for a customer service representative. Because chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence, they are expected to rapidly and continually improve as they “learn” from each interaction.
Payments are Easier
Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, consumers were happily embracing the concept of contactless payment due to its convenience and security. Now, with the additional advantage of increased hygiene and reduced infection risk, this technology is here to stay. It’s also easy for travel vendors, from agents to hotels to restaurants and more, to customize their customers’ experience by offering loyalty reward programs and other perks to build lasting relationships.
Reality Is Enhanced
The explosion in popularity of virtual and augmented reality technology cannot be overstated, and their use in the tourism industry is expected to grow exponentially. Virtual reality, which allows a user to explore an exotic location from the comfort of their own living room, can pique enough interest for that customer to book a trip in order to experience the destination fully.
On the other hand, augmented reality can boost a traveler’s experience by graphically overlaying information onto the person’s real surroundings. For example, while exploring a city, visitors could point their phone or tablet at a historic landmark and learn its history. Restaurant menus and reviews could be accessed simply by pointing a handheld device at the building. There are many other helpful and fun applications for this technology, including on-demand tourist information and interactive games that incorporate the physical environment.
Connected Devices Are Convenient
The Internet of Things (IoT) might have seemed like science fiction not so long ago, but this technology is definitely the wave of the future. Internet connectivity between devices, without the need for human interaction, makes smart homes possible and is increasingly popular in the travel industry. IoT technology can improve the customer experience immensely, as it is customizable and user-friendly. In airports, sensors in luggage could be used to alert travelers to locate theirs quickly, eliminating the long wait at the baggage carousel.
Hotels are also beginning to leverage this technology in a variety of ways. Sending electronic keys to incoming guests’ phones can eliminate the front desk check-in process. Guests could also control lighting, temperature, and television settings from their own personal device, saving settings and setting timers to suit their personal comfort preferences.
After a year of restrictions and sacrifices, travelers are ready to hit the road in 2021, albeit with increased awareness of the need for safety and security. Fortunately, advances in technology stand ready to support adventurers as they set out on their journeys.