How Technology is shaping the Future of the Industry
There is a growing demand for travel, and the amount of air traffic is only expected to increase. In 20 years time, the air travel market is expected to be 2.5 times larger, and the global commercial jet fleet will double in size by 2037. One of the driving forces behind this global surge in the industry? Technology. Whether it is innovation in aviation, airports, or booking and hotels, technology has revolutionized the travel experience.
The latest from the flight deck
Air New Zealand, an airline with a reputation for innovation, just announced that it has teamed up with North Shore-based Zenith Tecnica to explore the possibility of 3D printed metal parts for aircraft. The airline made a foray into the Silicon Valley tech scene by entering a partnership with JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), the venture capital subsidiary of JetBlue Airways. This partnership is the first of its kind on an international level in the industry, and looks to bolster innovation in the sector and support both existing and newly formed start-ups.
Other transportation companies are also exploring new technologies. Boeing is collaborating with SparkCognition to use a combination of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence that will ensure safe and secure transport while also tracking unmanned air vehicles and allocating traffic corridors.
There’s lots of potential to reimagine the flying experience, and it’s exciting to see what the coming years will bring.
Navigating the airport terminal
Travellers have spoken, and airports are listening.
- Los Angeles’ LAX is looking at survey data from Metis, an AI-backed data analytic system – to see what passengers are saying and feeling – about their airport experience. The system extracts elements of every comment or post and relates them to categories such as food and beverage, logistics and Transportation Security Administration.
- Baggage handling is another focus point, with 71% of airlines planning to provide real-time bag tracking information to passengers by 2020.
- British Airways has been testing biometric gates at several airports, and found that in L.A., they have been able to board more than 400 customers in 22 minutes – less than half the time it typically takes with manual boarding.
Robots and AI are personalizing the guest experience
According to WTM Insights, a new quarterly magazine on global travel trends, hospitality robots are serving as concierges, luggage porters and receptionists, and are found in airports, restaurants and hotels around the world.
- Singapore has embraced AI with Savioke robots. The M Social Singapore (part of Millennium Hotels and Resorts), has robots Aura and Ausca, “to increase productivity, optimise operations and enhance guest experiences. An internal audit has shown that they save at least five hours per day,” said the hotel’s Chief Marketing Officer.
- Las Vegas’ Wynn Hotel now has Amazon Echo speakers in each of its 4,748 rooms.
- Augmented reality technologies are used to emulate trips, and German airline Lufthansa has created 360-degree videos of various destinations, including Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo. The videos are available on YouTube and viewable on VR headsets to transport aspiring travellers and people planning their next trip.
Is this slew of new technology a force for good, or is it detrimental? Is it streamlining the experience, or making it impersonal?
Chris Hemmeter, managing director of Thayer Ventures, made an interesting point:
“Because it’s an infrequent purchase, the psychology of anticipation and discovery is pleasurable. So the idea of consolidating the whole travel discovery experience down to one site, one page, one app – it just fails miserably. The idea that you will talk to your home device and it will spit out a trip for you, I just don’t buy it.” For entrepreneurs, there is a great deal of risk and so many moving parts in travel. Yet there is also a lot of potential.
Exponential technology has transformational potential for individuals and industries, and these technologies are constantly evolving.
While technology can certainly help with aspects of the journey, we must not forget the importance of human connection.
There is joy in researching and discovering new places, but if new innovations are introduced in a balanced way that can help weary travellers make the experienced easier, they are welcome.