Credit: Marco Verch – Flickr
Ground-breaking technologies are changing our environment. And the tourism industry is no exception. In recent years, digital transformation has become instrumental to the ever-evolving travel industry. From mobile apps to augmented reality, tech is a game-changer for both travellers and hospitality workers. So, what is coming next? We explore three technology trends taking the tourism world by storm.
According to Statista, over 6 billion people own a smartphone worldwide. This number may soar to exceed 7 billion users by 2027. And while digital detox is getting increasingly popular, most tourists can no longer fancy travelling without their mobile. Thus, the travel industry has massively invested in mobile technologies.
Mobile apps now cover all aspects of travel. Flight companies and hotels started early, then museums and heritage sites followed suit. Beyond merely booking a seat or a room, some companies even offer innovative options to make their customers’ lives easier. Hilton, for instance, developed a digital key allowing for contactless check-in.
QR codes also revolutionized hospitality. Several restaurants now provide exclusive QR codes that unlock virtual menus and sometimes take customers’ orders without physical contact. Other leisure venues have made use of QR codes to ease congestion. The Harry Potter store in New York introduced this device to enable shoppers to avoid waiting in line for hours. Instead, customers join a virtual queue by scanning the code with their mobile. A text message eventually notifies them they can enter the store.
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Robots used to be a fantasy stemming from science-fiction. Yet, the use of robots has become commonplace within the hospitality industry. The first robot-staffed hotel opened its gates in Nagasaki, Japan. The Henn Na Hotel -literally “the weird hotel”- furnished robots enhanced with voice and facial recognition to perform front desk duties, on top of check-in and check-out services. Hilton put forward a robot concierge with the ability to answer clients’ requests and learn with each passing interaction.
Airports joined the robot trend in the wake of hotels’ experimentations. KLM’s airport assistant appeared at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as early as 2018. The Kobe Airport and the Bengaluru Airport, among other hubs, subsequently put travel assistant robots in circulation. But robots were also brought forth to reinforce airport security. Developed in Silicon Valley, the Knightscope robots can autonomously detect concealed weapons. Other devices like Kansai Airport’s Secom complement human security teams to patrol and monitor various areas through built-in cameras.
Tourism ranks among the fastest-growing industries globally. And with more and more offers, its main sectors are looking for ways to reinvent themselves. That is why augmented reality has gained pace, as it promotes interactivity to improve the customer experience.
Augmented reality apps are a case in point for tourist attractions. Ancient heritage sites already took advantage of this technology to provide virtual tours and bring to life ruins that date back thousands of years. In Lebanon, augmented reality allows visitors to switch between the Roman temple of Baalbek as it stood in 215 A.D, and as it looks today. Hotels have also toyed with the concept, and many resorts now offer 360-degree virtual tours that enable potential guests to check the premises before making a reservation.
The tourism industry is also turning to AR to bring an element of fun to the travel experience. Best Western hotels, for instance, have implemented augmented reality to bring Disney characters to children’s rooms. Virtual reality venues have blended gaming and tourism too. The leader of leisure attractions in the Gulf, Emaar Entertainment, opened an AR park in Abu Dhabi. Yet, the place does not allow for gambling as per local regulations. Still, Arabic players can enjoy the best gambling sites online. Expert reviewers have scoured the internet to find reliable casinos and sports bookies. They have gathered tips to ensure a safe experience, from anonymous payment methods to security features. Gamblers in the Gulf can thus access top casino games, including live dealer sessions in augmented reality.
Travel is regaining momentum at a steady pace. But the tourism industry needs to remain one step ahead to cater to new travel trends. Incidentally, emerging technologies are a critical issue for the sector’s leading actors. And the digitalization of tourism might not be a fad but a revolution.