SITA’s innovation report explores 12 key trends that will shape the travel industry over the next decade.
This report draws upon insights from work across the transport industry, owned global research, and the latest cutting-edge proof of concepts from the SITA Lab innovation team to identify the most powerful shifts that will drive the transport industry’s evolution by 2033.
Emerging technological, societal, traveler, and economic trends have significantly morphed the travel landscape in the last few years, forcing a rapid adaptation by industry, governments, and workforces.
A new era of travel is emerging which will feature trusted digital identities, hyper efficient metaverse-like airport operations, sustainable aviation, and air taxis.
Airports and airlines will have to restructure their workforces using technology to work differently. Technology means more scalable operations and upskilling employees to support these changes, with a more significant focus on service.
Automation will allow operations to be scaled, enabling a more agile workforce, and employees’ value will shift to highly skilled, empowered decision-makers and service-orientated roles. Peaks and troughs of work will be addressed through digitization.
Younger travelers demand a more integrated digital journey, and the industry will be forced to respond. They will accelerate the digital way of life and popularize fringe technologies by 2027. Many are frequent travelers who are 'self-service first,' and leverage biometrics and digital passes to gain travel efficiency and convenience.
Digital identity, border crossings, and mobile platforms offer ample opportunities for younger digital native travelers who are used to using their mobile phone as a remote control for travel; this market share will increase as digital natives claim a more significant proportion of the passenger demographic, creating a seismic shift towards 'digital first.'
We are moving towards a future where passengers can travel from anywhere to everywhere without ever needing to present travel documents and without needing to stop to confirm their identity, check-in, cross a border, or access any number of services at their destination, all while keeping control of where and when data is shared.
We believe that digital identities are the key enabler of Digital Travel. But they must be more secure and trustworthy to be a true replacement for their physical equivalents. Only once identity data is freed from the limitations of physical documents can we truly realize the revolution of a seamless, secure, and safe travel journey for all.
We will travel longer into our old age and with more disposable income. This will deepen the demographic of aging travelers who require more assistance throughout the journey. Bespoke technological solutions and bolstered human resources at airports will be dedicated to supporting the aging traveler by 2030. A subsection of technology innovation will emerge designed to address the needs of the senior traveler specifically.
Airports and airlines will initiate dedicated teams, training, and processes to cater to a growing demographic of aging travelers, including passenger processing solutions, airport experiences, and end-to-end reliable customer support services.
Airports are looking to fill pandemic-caused revenue holes: enabling mobile payments, improving personalization, and growing ancillary services are focus areas for most airports. Mobile commerce (m-commerce) and buy now pay later (BNPL) services will drive eCommerce growth and transform purchasing experiences throughout the passenger journey.
The automation and emergence of smart airports will give rise to a new flattened business organization, eliminating the more mundane and laborious work through technology.
VR and AR will be used for auxiliary and off-site working processes, engaging workforces remotely in an efficient and stimulating format.
By 2030 metaverse operations will be commonplace at leading airports and play a vital role in optimizing processes, avoiding disruption, and facilitating intuitive, immersive control of intelligent airports. Metaverse training courses for operational staff will ensure in-situ experience in an immersive and realistic simulated environment.
Over the next seven years, seamless intermodal travel will emerge with single processing and verification points that enable a fluid end-to-end journey across land, sea, and air.
There will be a push to allow more connected journeys with sustainable operations and new collaboration models using trusted data exchange for the broader end-to-end travel ecosystem. We will move from a community of 10+ players to take care of a single flight offer from A to B, towards an ecosystem of 100+ active contributors to deliver a door-to-door seamless travel experience.
Connected smart tugs and baggage carts will serve vehicles on the ramp. Wheelchairs, mobile kiosks, and robotic assistants will be controlled remotely.
In the airport, the arrival of 5G and the maturation of AI solutions will see connected autonomous robots, vehicles, and mobility equipment to support passengers and staff. The result will be more autonomous tracking and controlling of autonomous activities and vehicles that assist passenger journeys at major international airports.
We believe that by 2030, sustainability will be at the heart of travel. During this decade, scrutiny over the entire aviation industry supply chain will increase. Fully efficient operations will be critical for the air transport industry to meet its net-zero by 2050 goal. Using data to understand the drivers of emissions across the air transport ecosystem and inform operational decisions will be a critical enabler of these efficiency gains.
The emergence of zero-emissions propulsion solutions coming to fruition will begin to disrupt the market. Commercial-grade sustainable aviation fuels will become more affordable and accessible. Hence, the businesses that can demonstrate their sustainability credentials will be the business of choice for climate-conscious consumers, while those that cannot endure mounting pressure from investors, government, and industry.
The travel industry will experience a sharp shift from simple forecasts and demand plans to an agile supply chain based on real-time data. Digital chain of custody and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) will supersede traditional processes, where instant and verifiable data can be accessed digitally.
Intermodal connected and seamless travel will become a reality with passenger processing and ease of checking in and baggage handling harmonized between the modes of transport.
By 2032, electric air taxis will be ubiquitous at major international airports and operate as an effective auxiliary service and revenue stream for airports and airlines. The services will push travel closer to a seamless journey with short transfers and speedy passenger processing on top of added sustainability and energy cost benefits.
This report draws upon insights from work across the transport industry, owned global research, and the latest cutting-edge proof of concepts from the SITA Lab innovation team to identify the most powerful shifts that will drive the transport industry’s evolution by 2033.Click here to download