You’re sitting on your sofa, engrossed in the latest Bond film, when one scene catches your eye. Where is that place and how do I get there?
You tap your screen and information about the destination pops up: where the scene is taken, how much would it cost to fly there, what the temperature is like at that time of the year…. With one push of a button you’ve booked your next holiday: a flight from London to Marrakesh and a stay at that famed hotel where your favourite action scene was shot.
When you land, your rental car’s GPS system is already loaded with your hotel information, and it asks if you would like your cocktail shaken or stirred upon arrival.
A virtual assistant greets you at your hotel and asks what you would like for breakfast the next day. The hotel cleaning staff never disturbs you, because they are automatically prompted when you leave your hotel room in the morning.
This future may be reminiscent of Spike Jonze’s 2013 sci-fi film, Her, but it’s not that far off.
In a world where artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, facial recognition, augmented reality and big data transform our built environment, opportunities for travel players are vast.
The big strength of AI technology is that it can learn from past experiences, use these lessons to evolve, and begin predicting patterns of behaviour.
Because AI relies so heavily on data, the travel sector is prime for taking advantage of this technology: every time a person searches, books, and travels, they create new data to be analysed and understood.
Using predictive algorithms gives this information more value and allows companies to better present information to consumers.
This means more dynamic pricing and the ability to offer more suitable recommendations to travellers, such as extra baggage or a transfer to or from the airport.
At the inspiration stage, opportunities abound. AI can also be bolstered with facial recognition and more: new systems can recognise a city just from a picture, making our services and programmes even smarter.
Imagine an AI system that analyses your social media photos and gauges your interests, suggesting new travel destinations based on your photos of food, athletic activities, or even clothing.
Robots armed with cutting edge algorithms could also assist customers by asking questions before and during their journey, predicting their needs or recommending information much like a travel consultant.
This information could empower travel agents by gathering data to help them offer travellers a more personalised experience based on their specific needs and preferences.
Meanwhile, some travel agencies, destination marketers and hotels are already capitalising on virtual reality.
Certain travel agents offer virtual reality tours of destinations to help travellers decide on their next trip, and some hotels allow travellers to virtually tour their properties before booking.
This is something restaurants could take advantage of as well, in order to encourage diners to make a reservation.
Once the journey has started, hyper-personalisation, or real-time prompts based on customer preferences, is also a possibility.
AI will allow for the development of services that give live information to travellers while they are travelling.
For example, travellers could receive proactive updates on delays and changes in weather conditions through any “smart” or connected device, from their mobile to their connected vehicle.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, your travel app will recognise, or even anticipate, this delay and automatically re-book you onto the next available service.
What’s more, over time AI technology will learn from your behaviour and could adapt its offers accordingly.
Once a traveller is at their destination, augmented reality (AR) has the potential to transform their experience in a whole host of ways.
Museums, visitor centres, zoos and aquariums are already using AR to enhance visitors’ experience with additional information as they tour a space.
In Switzerland, a public transportation AR app is making sure that travellers never get lost.
To figure out a route, one just needs to open the app, hold their smartphones in the direction of the stop or station where they want to go and they will be able to see the relevant route information overlaid on their real world image.
As our society embraces new technology and customers’ expectations evolve, the travel industry is changing.
Just this year, Amadeus unveiled 1A-TA, a travel agent assistant based on the humanoid robot Pepper from SoftBank Robotics, who can speak with customers and qualify their needs before meeting with travel agents.
With United Airlines, Amadeus created a prototype called TravelCast that allows people to discover and save trips to locations featured in videos they are watching on an Apple TV.
These are just a few examples of how Amadeus is helping the travel industry to leap into the future, and more innovations are on the way.
In the latest travel study released by the London School of Economics, researchers said that we are on the cusp of a consumer revolution being shaped by technological change.
While it is not certain what travel will look like in the future, it is certain that the possibilities will be vast.
At this rate, the only thing missing from Spike Lee’s carefully crafted sci-fi world, is Scarlett Johannson’s reassuring voice as our virtual personal assistant. No guarantees on that front.
Sourced by Clare de Bono, head of product and innovation for UK and Ireland at Amadeus