The travel meta search site skyscanner.com released a report yesterday, which gives a peek into the future of travel. The report combines the site's online booking data with analysis from 56 experts to identify the three biggest trends that will shape a typical tourist's experience in 2024. It looks at how travel planning, booking and experiences will change over the coming decade, and predicts that in 2024 digital technologies will have transformed travel fundamentally. The three major trends include semantic search, artificial intelligence and wearable devices.
Wearable devices will become normality for the future traveller. The report predicts the emergence of so called ‘digital travel buddies’ or ‘e-agents’. These miniaturised wearable devices are constantly connected to the web to learn and understand a traveller’s individual preferences. Global Futurist Daniel Burrus predicts that this technology "will personalise all of our travel experiences, planning itineraries based on our particular likes and dislikes, and act as a tour guide, telling us only about the elements of the destination that it knows we will be interested in.” The origins of these devices lie in today’s emerging technologies, such as Siri voice recognition, Google Glass and Sony Smartwatches, which are predicted to make substantial innovation progress over the next years.
Virtual reality is an emerging field, which according the report will provide the possibility to have nearly realistic experiences of destinations. This is particularly interesting for the pre-trip stage, as it would allow tourists to sample a range of vacation scenarios. Recent technological developments, such as 3RD Planet’s 3D interactive travel guide platform for tourism boards and destinations, are paving the way for virtual reality applications, which can facilitate travel planning and decision making profoundly.
Online travel search has a long way to go to personalise search results for individual travellers, but the potential for deeply personalised search results is vast. Semantic search would customise results for every traveler, allowing travel companies to understand exactly what a traveler wants. In combination with artificial intelligence Travel companies will also build profiles of travellers' past preferences and apparent intent to provide relevant search results. According to the report, tools could even be developed to detect facial expressions and adjust results based on a person's reaction to an initial travel suggestion.
In general, the report provides an exiting outlook on what travel might look like in the future, against the background of the most recently emerging technologies. However, while it provides a solid overview of one potential scenario, reliable predictions are difficult to make due to the pace of technological innovations. Just remember, a decade ago – in April 2004 – social networks and 3G connections were in their absolute infancy, and the iPhone, Youtube, Twitter and tablet computers had not yet been invented.
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