Travel Tech Trends to Watch in 2016


The year 2015 was a big year in travel tech, bringing us the Apple Watch, the hoverboard, and the selfie stick. This year’s trends will continue to revolutionize the travel experience, giving your clients countless opportunities to personalize their experiences.

From actually-useful wearables to automated everything, here are the four trends to look out for in the coming year.


The Rise of Mobile

More and more travelers are beginning and finalizing their travel plans on mobile devices, according to Kayak CTO Giorgos Zacharia. Over half of these plans are for “spontaneous travel” - one-way flights and hotel bookings that last only one or two nights - and they are a real-life, travel-specific illustration of what Google has been identifying as “micro moments” for the past couple of years.


These moments, defined by spontaneous consumer impulses that are now enabled by a mobile device, are changing the way consumers interact with the travel industry. Travel agents and agencies will need to keep their eyes open for ways to capture and satisfy these types of last-minute travelers in this rapidly changing digital landscape.


Personalized Travel

The proliferation of hotel- and brand-specific apps has led to a deluge of customer data, and is now allowing many in the travel industry to customize each individual’s travel experience based on their user history. From booking a flight to checking out of a hotel room to visiting an amusement park (Disney, with its MyMagic+ wristband system, comes to mind), increased automation will deliver comprehensive and accurate results that are unique to the user.


Harnessing these new analytical abilities as travel agents will prove to be one of the major challenges - and opportunities - for travel agencies in 2016.


Virtual Reality Travel

Among the newest, and most exciting, technology frontiers is that of virtual reality. Over the past year, Marriot has been experimenting with these virtual experiences in the hopes of converting arm chair travelers into actual travelers that are, preferably, loyal to their brand.


As more players enter this field, the know-before-you-go mindset that characterizes today’s consumers will only increase, as will opportunities to convert those reluctant travelers.


Wearables to Actually Use

New wearable technologies will soon be challenging the hegemony of the Apple Watch, but it’s the wearables we don’t wear every day that promise the most change for travelers in 2016. The ili wrist translator is the world’s first wearable translator, making cross-cultural conversations more seamless than ever before. Developed in Japan, this little gadget is especially useful in Asian countries. Another promising development is the Relief Band, developed to alleviate motion sickness by stimulating pressure points on the wrist. These, and other useful tools, will offer travelers countless opportunities to improve their experiences in the coming year.

By Mel Webster

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