The many ways that technology is affecting travel

 width=Technology is changing the world. It affects our personal lives, our jobs and the way we perceive each other. Its growth has a huge impact on all industries, as it changes the way they function as well as the expectations of their customers. The travel industry is no exception. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways technology has affected travel so far, and how it will influence it in the future.

Booking systems

The first things that changed drastically due to the growth of technology were bookings. Once, it was all about phone calls and simple on-the-spot searches. But with the creation of the Internet, everything changed.

Information about hotels suddenly became very easy to find, making accommodation search less of a struggle. Anybody with an access to the Web could now go online and find a hotel they liked. However, nothing affected this aspect of the hospitality industry as much as the rise of Online Travel Agencies.

Suddenly, the travellers could find any hotel, in any place on earth, at any time. The entire process became significantly easier. They did not have to know the name of a hotel. Today, you simply have to type the name of the city you are planning to visit with dates, and thousands of options for you to choose from will pop up.

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This new channel of distribution has both advantages and disadvantages. It helps hotels reach a wider audience, lists them all in one place making the search incomparably easier and speeds up the entire process. On the flipside, it causes controversy, because the OTAs started using their power by creating unfair rate parity agreements and increasing commissions to up to 30%. Luckily, there is an alternative to every option, and new booking platforms have appeared on the market that try to be more hotelier-friendly. One example is, a platform that doesn’t charge hoteliers commission and doesn’t use rate parity agreements.

Paper tickets – a thing of the past?

After you’ve booked your stay, you have to get to your destination and we all know how much of a hustle that can be -remembering to take all your tickets and boarding passes, getting through long lines and the security check that takes forever, only to finally wait to board the plane with dozens of other people. It all takes forever and is highly irritating. But the airlines and airport staff know it very well. And they are, in fact, trying to make the process easier.

Some of them have already started the process of simplifying the security checks with fast body scanners, and it will surely only get better. Most likely, in the not-so-distant future, paper tickets and even passports will be the thing of the past. All you’ll need will be your fingerprints andÉyour face! Face recognition is already becoming a popular form of confirming the identity of a person. Soon, you won’t even have to stop while going through the airport. The door will open for you the moment your face is recognised and your status as a passenger is confirmed. Special cameras will scan your bag as you walk to the gate to ensure you don’t carry something that might not be allowed on board, and if it finds something forbidden you will be stopped by the staff and asked to remove it. It will make the process much easier (and less nerve wracking).

Robot – the receptionist

Let’s move forward and step inside the hotel. Robotization is one of the most common words used by the scientists and engineers around the globe. Many people are very optimistic about the idea of human-like robots greeting us when we enter the hotel, serving our food in a restaurant or cleaning our rooms. Many, however, are sceptical.

Of course, the process has already begun. All types of devices are now smarter and more responsive than ever. There is the famous Alexa, the intelligent personal assistant for your home; its counterpart locked inside our iphones, Siri; the smart vacuum moving around our houses and ditching all the obstacles, Roomba, and many more. But what about a robot actually pretending to be a human? Is that going a step too far? Can a robot be as polite, as compassionate and as responsive as a living, breathing person?

As for now, there are a few robots taking on the job of a receptionist. Most of them look nothing like humans and for now, they don’t have to. The primary concern is their functionality. They are not really taking over our jobs either. Instead, they are more like helpers to the humans who already work in hotels. They occupy guests before humans can assist them, offer them all the necessary information, answer their questions and often hand them tea or coffee to make the wait more bearable.

What will their work look like in the future though? Their creators want them to imitate humans. They want future robots to be able to do any tasks a person can do and look like they are in fact alive.

Smart hotel rooms

From reception we move to hotel rooms and they too are going through massive changes. The term Òsmart hotel roomÓ is now a part of our vocabulary, as they do, in fact, become smarter. With just your voice you can control nearly everything that is happening in the room you are staying in.

First, you can set up basic things like the time of the alarm, the temperature, the humidity, the brightness of lights and the firmness of the mattress. But room technology goes way beyond that. With just your voice, you can ask your room (yes, the room, not the service), to turn the music on, turn the lights on and off, make a coffee or even a breakfast, set up a bubble bath, open the curtains or order your lunch.

And all signs indicate that this is only the beginning. Room technology will progress so that they know all your needs before you even show up and it will enable an easier and more pleasant stay.

Travel bags of the future

A fun addition to this list are suitcases. There are many modern designs of smart travel bags, some are already available, some will be in the nearest future. All of them are incredibly innovative and very functional. There are the simple additions, like the power banks installed inside the bags so you can charge multiple devices at once without needing to search for an outlet. Then there are innovations like fingerprint scanners that enable you, and only you, to open your own bag; internal scales so you always know if you’re packing too much; and built-in tracking devices so that you never lose your luggage again.

From there, luggage innovation only gets bigger and more impressive. Travelmate Robotics’ prototype suitcases are designed to follow you around. Yes, that’s right, a bag that knows where you are going and simply goes there with you – without any handles or the need to drag it behind you. And just like Roombas vacuums,Ê it will be able to avoid obstacles and bounce right back to its track.

Next step – space?

ÒThe sky is the limit.Ó After continents and oceans, the next step will inevitably be conquering space. Some efforts to achieve this goal have already been made. Elon Musk famously launched his Falcon Heavy on February 6th, a day that marked a new step forward the exploration of our solar system. Falcon Heavy is a special type of rocket that is partially reusable, which makes it much more affordable to send rockets, and therefore people into space. The price of space travel is currently prohibitive due to the fact that large parts of the rockets were, until now, simply dumped into the ocean and therefore unusable. Now there is a chance that soon space travel will be cheap enough to make it, if not mainstream, at least less exorbitant and available to the more than wealthy elites.

And who knows, maybe one day anybody will be able to hop onto a spacecraft and visit Mars! I definitely hope so.

About the author

Brought up in Poland, KlaudiaÊFere_czuk is a journalist and a blogger, with articles published in Business Hotel, MamStartup and more, as well as over 150 blog posts related to the hospitality industry and travel on her account. She focuses mostly on the travel market, with special regard to the Online Travel Agencies.

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