Just seven years’ ago, the world was a completely different place. Apple was just about to launch the second generation iPhone, and Google had announced that they had just developed the Android operating system for smartphones. No Uber, no Airbnb… and a number of other technological solutions that we take for granted today. So where are things headed in the next seven years?
Speaking at the GBTA Southern Africa conference, Joakim Evestin, Head of Innovation and Tech Evangelist at Sabre EMEA, says the children of today (born between 1995 and 2009) will be the corporate travellers of the future – and they engage with technology in a completely different way to the generations that came before them.
For example, says Evestin, today the average person spends about four hours a day on tech devices, but for “Generation Z” this skyrockets to an average of 10 hours a day so technology will be play a huge role in their travel behaviour. “Currently just 25% of the working population have some sort of higher education, but in the next generation it is forecasted that this will increase to 50% – which means that travel expectations are likely to double as they are better informed,” he says.
So what are some of the technological innovations that are likely to have a major impact on this generation and how they travel in the future? According to Evestin, there are for major tech clusters:
Smartwatches, voice and biometrics: Smartwatches are set to fundamentally change the way people travel – with all the information corporate travellers need from check-in to boarding information, conveniently pushed directly to a wearable device. Looking ahead, the accuracy of voice recognition will play a central role to the adoption and success of wearable devices.
Augmented and virtual reality: Augmented reality, which involves superimposing a computer-generated image over someone’s real view of the world, and virtual reality, or the creation of an artificial environment which people can interact with in a seemingly real way, are valuable tools to drive sales and convince travellers to convert higher. For example, travellers can experience upgrades first-hand, or visit a resort or destination virtually before booking.
Autonomous vehicles, internet of things and dynamic personalisation: In the future, driverless cars could potentially making driving in unfamiliar destinations much safer using technology we are already seeing in vehicles today, such as automatic parking and adaptive speed control. Added to this, no longer are only the obvious items connected to internet and this could have exciting applications for travel – for example, your fridge at home and air-conditioner could feed through your preferences to your hotel so that you arrive to find a room at your ideal temperature with a fridge stocked with your favourite wine or beer!
Robotics: Operational robots can take over manual tasks, such as heavy lifting at airports, while conversation robots enable travellers to ask for relevant information such as the weather or a list of flights and fares for their intended travel destinations.