Travel technology, often known as travel tech, refers to the innovative solutions harnessing the power of contemporary digital technologies to transform the tourism, travel, and hospitality industries. From automated customer service to enhanced data protection, travel tech permeates nearly every facet of travel, influencing and enhancing the customer journey in significant ways.

Let’s delve into the top travel tech trends that have caught the industry’s attention in 2023.

1. Robotic Assistants

Robotic Assistants in the travel sector have morphed from being a novelty to a necessity. Travel hubs such as airports use robots for cleaning and maintenance tasks, ensuring sanitization standards are met consistently amidst pandemic concerns. A prime example of this is Singapore’s Changi Airport, which has employed robots for deep cleaning tasks, ensuring a safe environment for travelers.

Hotels are also using robots to enhance their service offerings. In Henn-na Hotel in Japan, robots not only handle reception duties but also carry out services that were traditionally managed by humans, such as managing luggage services and providing entertainment. Robots, in combination with AI, can understand and communicate in multiple languages, making them perfect for serving international clientele.

2. Voice Technology

The integration of voice technology in the travel industry has been a transformative move, offering customers convenience and personalization. For instance, hotel rooms equipped with AI-powered voice assistants can handle a host of tasks, from adjusting room temperature and lighting to ordering room service, just on vocal commands from guests.

Travel planning websites and apps are also incorporating voice search functionality. Companies like Expedia and Kayak have integrated voice search in their platforms, allowing users to inquire about flight details, book tickets, or check hotel availability, all through simple voice commands. It’s a valuable travel technology.

3. Contactless Payments

In the travel industry, the pandemic has spurred the adoption of contactless payments at an unprecedented rate. Contactless payments using NFC technology are not only more convenient but also reduce the risk of virus transmission, a crucial advantage in the current times.

Hotels and travel agencies are increasingly offering contactless check-in and checkout options, including mobile payments and digital wallets. An example of this can be seen with Marriott’s Mobile Key, which allows guests to check-in, access their rooms, and checkout using their smartphones, thus eliminating the need for physical interaction.

4. Virtual Reality (VR)

VR technology is proving instrumental in transforming the travel industry by allowing potential tourists to virtually experience the destinations, accommodations, or tourist attractions. For instance, Ascape is an app that offers 360-degree video travel guides, allowing users to virtually explore destinations. Similarly, airlines like Lufthansa have employed VR in their lounges for passengers to preview and experience premium seating before purchase.

VR also provides a significant advantage to the hospitality sector. Hotels are using VR to provide virtual tours of their properties, enabling guests to explore rooms, amenities, and other facilities in an immersive way before making a booking decision.

5. AI Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots are reshaping customer service in the travel industry by providing real-time assistance, 24/7. Chatbots can handle common inquiries about bookings, flight statuses, and amenities, freeing up human agents for more complex issues.

Skyscanner’s Facebook Messenger bot is an example of a chatbot that assists users in finding flights. Users can enter their travel preferences, and the bot will provide suitable flight options, making the search process much more interactive and personalized.

6. CyberSecurity Measures

As the travel industry is highly data-driven, managing extensive customer data makes robust cybersecurity measures crucial. Travel companies have started investing heavily in advanced cybersecurity solutions to protect their systems from potential attacks and data breaches.

Biometric data, VPNs, multi-factor authentication, advanced firewalls, email security, and encryption techniques are all being implemented to secure sensitive information. Companies are also conducting regular cybersecurity training for their employees to increase awareness and minimize human-induced cyber risks.

7. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT has brought unprecedented connectivity and personalization to the travel industry. Smart hotel rooms, equipped with IoT devices, can adapt to the personal preferences of the guests. From adjusting the temperature and lighting to opening the curtains or ordering room service, everything can be controlled from a single device.

IoT isn’t limited to hotels, though. For instance, airlines are using IoT to improve baggage tracking. Delta’s “Track My Bags” feature allows passengers to track their checked baggage in real-time, thanks to RFID tags attached to the luggage, providing customers with peace of mind.

8. Recognition Technology

Recognition technology has several applications in the travel industry. For instance, it’s being used in hotels for keyless room access, making check-ins and check-outs more convenient. Yotel, a hotel chain, allows guests to check-in through kiosks using their reservation information, with rooms being accessed via a QR code sent to their mobile devices.

In airports, recognition technology is used for security purposes, like biometric identification in automatic passport control systems. Dubai International Airport, for example, uses facial recognition technology for security checks, providing a seamless travel experience for passengers.

9. Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is changing how tourists interact with their environment by providing them with real-time, contextual information. Apps like Google Lens can identify landmarks, translate signs in foreign languages, or provide reviews and information about local businesses, all with the help of AR.

Tourist destinations are also employing AR to enhance their offerings. For example, the Museum of London has an app called “Streetmuseum,” which overlays historical photos on the present-day locations when viewed through the phone’s camera, creating an immersive historical tour for visitors.

10. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is no longer a buzzword but a fundamental part of the travel industry. AI algorithms can analyze customer data to provide personalized travel recommendations, optimize pricing, manage inventory, and predict travel trends.

Companies like Airbnb use AI to customize search results based on the user’s preferences and previous booking behavior. AI is also used to automate routine tasks, such as responding to common customer inquiries through chatbots, freeing up human staff for more complex issues.

Going Forward

The travel tech landscape of 2023 is a fascinating fusion of advanced digital technologies, each playing a part in reshaping the industry and redefining the travel experience for the better. As these technologies continue to evolve, the future of travel tech promises even more exciting developments.