There is no doubt that technology has become an integral part of our lives, some might argue too much so. Technology has completely changed the way we live our lives – whether it’s how we work, relax, shop, eat, sleep or travel.
While many areas of our lives have been influenced by technology, one industry that has seen a huge shift is travel. Constant technological advances within the travel industry have meant that the way we travel today has been completely transformed. This huge change in the tourism industry has now become known as travel technology.
What is Travel Technology?
Travel technology refers to any tech or gadgets that are used to plan or enhance travel in some way. Innovation in travel technology is constantly changing the way we plan and experience our trips around the world. As a keen traveller, it is essential that you keep in the know about the latest travel technology trends that might heighten your travel experiences in 2021 and beyond.
Whether you are a total tech nerd or a complete technophobe, there is no denying that technology for travel has made planning, booking, packing, travelling and enjoying your experience to the full much much easier.
Travel Tech for Trip Planning:
First and foremost, travel gadgets and technology have made planning your trips away much easier and less time-consuming. Long gone are the days of travel agencies. With the help of smartphones, we can plan a hassle-free trip away. Condor Ferries found that 70% of travellers use smartphones for travel research. Long gone are the days of flipping through printed travel guides and paper maps. Tech tools are much more efficient for organising your travels.
Thoroughly planning your trip with travel tech tools may sound like it defeats a huge purpose of travelling: spontaneity. Yet, I would be inclined to disagree. In reality, using travel technology frees up time that would otherwise be spent thinking, “What shall we do today?”. It reduces the headache of arguing with travel companions about what the plan for today should be to get the most out of your trip. And, while planning largely conflicts with spontaneity, travel tech tools still leave plenty of room for discoveries along the way.
Crafting a trip itinerary is often both exciting and overwhelming. Which places are a must-see and which aren’t worth the effort? Which type of accommodation is best? What is the best time of year to visit? Where are the best places to eat? Faced with so many decisions and the desire to make your trip the best it can be, planning your travels can be an incredibly complicated task. Thankfully, advances in technology mean that there is a whole host of travel tech and gadget options available to help us keep track of all our travel ideas.
Trip Planner Apps:
Mobile technology is without a doubt the most significant player in travel planning. According to TripAdvisor, 45% of respondents use their smartphones for everything to do with their vacations. The go-to travel technology for trip planning is a handy app. Trip planner apps are will keep your travel plans organised so that preparing for your travels becomes a lot more fun and a lot less stressful. Download a travel planner app and throw away that endless pile of confusing spreadsheets and Word documents. There are so many trip planning apps to choose from depending on what you want to get out of them.
- The TripAdvisor app is great for planning trips to smaller, less well-known destinations as it offers listings of both top attractions and hidden gems across the entire globe. You can also use the TripAdvisor travel app to find the top-rated restaurants, hotels and rentals which can then be saved in a customised itinerary in the app’s new ‘Trips’ feature.
- The Visit a City travel app takes planning your trip to the next level. This travel planning app solves that common travel problem of knowing how long to spend at each place and what order to see them in. Providing recommendations of how long to stay at each destination and grouping nearby attractions together, you can make the most of the time you have with the Visit a City travel planner.
- Apps like Google Trips can help keep all your travel information organised. Google Trips collects all your travel details and keeps them in one handy place, including plane tickets, train tickets, maps and booking confirmations.
Travel Tech for Easy Booking:
As the days of paper maps and travel guides are a thing of the past, so are trips to the travel agent. Condor Ferries found that 82% of travel bookings in 2018 were made without a travel agent. As the demands of travellers evolve at a rapid pace, it is important that the travel industry tries to keep up in order to maintain their value in the modern world.
Artificial Intelligence (AI):
In order to maintain a competitive advantage within the travel industry, many travel brands are turning to AI-powered solutions to automate the booking process and provide a more personalised service to their customers. Soon, you won’t have to spend hours on end browsing through websites to the perfect hotel room. Artificial intelligence will soon be on hand to do all the hard work for you.
AI essentially refers to computers or machines performing tasks that would usually require human intelligence to complete. For example, making decisions, recognising and interpreting speech and learning. AI has been around for a long time, but only recently have computers become advanced and reliable enough to carry out such complex tasks without human assistance.
This capacity of AI to perform tasks that would normally require human cognitive function has been particularly valuable for the travel industry. Given that businesses collect and store such large quantities of consumer data nowadays, computers can use this information to perform complex tasks, including data analysis, problem solving, speech translation and direct messaging in order to enhance personalisation throughout the customer’s travel booking journey.
Hotels and resorts heavily rely on delivering excellent customer service to build their reputation and a loyal customer base. AI travel technology can assist with this in a number of ways. Particularly useful for travel brands, AI tech can be utilised to improve personalisation, tailor recommendations and guarantee quick responses.
One of the most exciting uses for AI in the travel industry is providing assistance to online customers. Chatbots are designed to simplify human-machine interaction. Computers use chatbots to understand and respond to human input through either spoken or written language. There has already been widespread use of chatbots on social media platforms and instant messaging apps. In this way, chatbots are able to respond to questions and provide useful information to customers when a human representative is unavailable.
Using Travel Tech to Stay Connected:
Technology even makes it easier for us to stay connected while travelling around the world. Before, keeping in contact with family and friends back home could be a tiresome prospect. Phone calls could be incredibly expensive, letters and postcards might take weeks to reach their intended destination and you had to wait until you got back to share pictures of your experiences. Now, advancements in technology mean that you can work remotely, keep in touch with family and ensure your friends are always updated.
Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram now allow for regular, instantaneous holiday updates. Research has shown that travellers stay logged into social media whilst travelling. An estimated 72% of people post photos on social media while travelling, and 70% update their Facebook statuses.
As well as updating personal social accounts, travellers also utilise social media to connect with brands while vacationing. Social networks provide a great way for travellers to ask questions and share their opinions. Travel brands have picked up on the influence of social media on travel and are now utilising it as part of their own marketing strategies. Most airlines, tour companies, hotels and other travel related businesses have their own social media pages. These companies use social media to increase brand awareness, inspire their followers and encourage them to book holidays. In 2018, Instagram even introduced a new feature which allows users to book holidays and make reservations directly through the app.
One of the leading marketing strategies for travel-related companies is the use of social influencers. Research shows that 70% of teens trust the use of the social influencer. In fact, it is difficult to think of a popular travel brand that hasn’t collaborated with a social influencer to promote their services. This just goes to show the extent to which the travel industry has been influenced by social media. Social media technology has transcended its main purpose for personal communication and become a means of sharing life experiences, cultural awareness and stories from all over the globe.
Not only is it important to stay connected with loved ones back home, but it is perhaps even more vital to be able to communicate and interact with fellow tourists or local residents. One of the most underrated travel tech advances is the translation app. In the past, it was common to have to do a lengthy language course prior to travel or at the very least carry a phrasebook with you. Neither of these options were exactly ideal, failing to guarantee that you would understand or be understood in a different country.
Today, we have a much more effective solution: the smartphone. Using your smartphone you can now download increasingly powerful translation apps which do everything from translating street signs to real-time voice translations.