What does the future of travel look like?
It's hard to imagine a time before online travel planning. Over 20 years ago the internet was brought into our world, and although the industry was reluctant at first, travel eventually moved online and the industry has never been the same since.
For the first time, people were able to plan for themselves with full transparency and control - this terrified travel providers and thrilled adventurers!
In the past two decades, we have witnessed enormous shifts in travel behaviour and technology. As computers and people become increasingly intelligent, there has been more pressure on technology to provide convenience, flexibility, and choice. These technological expectations have created a huge stir for travel service providers to adapt or die.
The huge technological breakthroughs, more global competition and increasing consumer demands means that we are living in the right time people! In the next 10 years, we will witness some enormous advancements in the tech and travel space.
TECHNOLOGY THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
As mentioned, the travel and technology space is moving very quickly and it can be very difficult to keep up with all the jargon that's being thrown around! Below are the most important terms for you to understand:
Bots (and NLP):
In layman's terms, a Bot is just a computer that is used to perform highly repetitive operations. Siri, the woman who lives in our iPhone is a Bot! (p.s ask Siri to beat box, do it.) Siri is a great example of the emergence of conversational commerce. Conversational commerce or Bots are being considered as the next big thing in the travel world.
Bot's, our digital personal assistants, already exist in the form of messaging apps that can help you plan your vacation on the go, at any time. They help you with simple requests at random hours. You could simply pull out your smartphone and text "please rent me a purple minivan for tomorrow. Oh, and can you please get me burger" and it would reply "Sure. Tell me your pick up location and meat preference". Awesome right!?
I bet you're wondering what the difference is between Google Search and Bots is! Well, these Bots use something called Natural Language Processing (NLP) - computers traditionally don't! Computers were built to assume that we all speak in a highly structured and unified manner, but we all know that we don't! Depending on context, regional location, and education we all have different names for the same things!
Bots can speak to us, just like we speak to our friends since they have NLP built into them. You may have heard the term machine learning being thrown around before, this is how they create Bots with NLP. In simple terms, machine learning is when a very savvy programmer has given machines their own understanding. The computer is then able to compute and analyse data on its own, and therefore identifies patterns and trends just like we do! They consider and store possibilities taking special note of the effects. Once the machine has learnt enough it can start to form patterns and match words and phrases to their meanings - thus understanding human speech and casual text!
Artificial intelligence (AI):
All of the jargon that was thrown around above with Machine Learning can be used to understand what Artifical Intelligence (AI) is. It is simply a field of computer science where machines develop skills and capabilities of humans. So, AI is where machines can 'learn', 'problem solve' and 'plan'. It's really not as scary as it sounds I promise!
For example, Netflix is engaging in AI when they suggest movies you may like! (See, suggestions are traditionally something a friend/human would make). Netflix just looks at what you liked in the past, matches you to people with similar purchasing profiles and suggest things based on what these people have already seen and enjoyed.
In the travel space, AI is going to be used to anticipate what people want, so they can spend less time searching.
Augmented & Virtual Reality
Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time. It's different to virtual reality, as it uses the existing environment to create new information rather than creating a totally artificial environment.
AR is what happens when a digital layer is placed on top of the physical world that's in front of you. You have actually been dabbling in the world of AR for a lot longer than you think! Remember EyeToy on PlayStation, where you could box your partner without really hitting them? That's an example of AR on a very beginner level. You are already so comfortable with AR that you didn't even flinch with Pokemon Go came in and took over your world! Pokemon Go places a made up digital layer over your existing environment and allows you to interact with it. Make sense?
Update 2018: We have now launched LeezairVR™ as we believe it's the best way (even "ultimate" way) to market and promote an experience. Indeed picture yourself reading a description and going through static images versus trying the experience before you book! More info here: https://providers.leezair.com/vr
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR TRAVEL
It's likely that your mind has already exploded in an overload of information, but don't let me lose you now! Since you now understand the terms that are shaping the future, it's time to understand where they are taking our travel industry.
With all the data and intelligence that the internet has allowed us to collect, we can expect that travelling will become increasingly personalised, convenient, fast and more interactive than ever before.
Some of the cool things to expect are:
Through the use of facial recognition software, airports will be able to scan through crowds of people and automatically check you in as you proceed to the gate without having to show ID. (Artificial Intelligence!)
We are all familiar with using loyalty cards to get discounts on groceries. Well, when we scan our flybys what we are really exchanging is a wealth of data on our buying patterns. This data allows for a stronger business through customised offerings and more efficient shelf stocking.
It won't be long until the travel industry moves into this space. We could be heading towards a world where all of the travel providers that are serving the same customer (from flights, car rental, accommodation etc) come together to have access to the digital bread crumbs that travellers leave with every transaction. Through collaborative relationships, travel providers could create a better travel experience through personalisation and streamlined operations.
It won't be long before we can visit and experience a foreign country place before we even leave our couch! It's possible that VR could hold the future of traveller reviews, where they could create their own unique experience for others to taste test before they book! (See LeezairVR)
THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL, LEEZAIR WILL MEET YOU THERE.
There are so many more technological advancements that will change the future for travel, and Leezair is learning more and more every day.
The vision for Leezair is bigger than the future of travel itself. While we start small and smart, we dream big and we can't wait to help shape and steer this crazy tech & travel industry.
Learn more about our vision here
Tell us your thoughts on the future of travel in the comments below!