Tech Trends in Travel | SITA

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Tech Trends in Travel: Done For You, #Nofilter Experiences and Blockchain

Published on  17 May by Tiffany Misrahi , Community Lead, Head of Aviation, Travel & Tourism Industries, World Economic Forum
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People have never traveled as much as they do today, with over 4 billion travelers whizzing through the air in 2017. At the same time, travelers have never been so demanding. We want it all and we want it now. We expect speed, authenticity, personalization, seamlessness and security.

To deliver on these high expectations, technology is a must. Technologies have already reshaped the way we work, live and act – and will continue to do so. They have revolutionized how we search, review, select and experience travel. Consider the shift to mobile and your digital boarding passes or even the rise platforms.

Three megatrends

Looking ahead, here are three megatrends in tech and travel, that I think have the potential to transform the industry: Done For You (DFY), #Nofilter Experiences and Blockchain.  

Done For You (DFY)

As automation rises, how much do you Do It Yourself (DIY) vs. how much is Done For You (DFY)? Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), automation is no longer limited to physical tasks  –  we have moved to the automation of mental ones.

While we have witnessed automation in the back-end of travel –  from inventory to reservation and staffing to transactions – AI will not stop there. Consider the potential of automated personalization for travel as we experience on Amazon; digital concierges, like Siri and Alexa. But for travel or even self-driving cars.

As AI and automation become increasingly pervasive and transform society, we need to consider what might be the benefits and potential pitfalls to proactively address them.  For instance, how will autonomous cars reshape transformation infrastructure, and what will this shift mean for the many airports which rely on parking for over 40% of their revenues?

Similarly, as certain tasks are automated, how will the industry identify those workers in the most “at risk” job families and ease their transition to new quality jobs by re-training them with new skillsets?

What I do believe is that the industry will continue to be a driver of job creation, and that automation will lead to a shift from data-centered tasks to more human-interaction roles to create unique and memorable experiences for its customers.

#Nofilter Experiences

More and more, it is difficult to know what information is filtered and what can be trusted. What is authentic vs. fabricated? People want unfiltered experiences that they can trust and that will inspire them – and the travel industry, supported by technology, can do just that.

Today we are seeing entirely new experiences from expedition style vessels to discover the Arctic and boutique agencies offering “surprise” vacations to space tourism with Virgin Atlantic planning to start flights by the end of 2018.

While exclusive and unique experiences are on the rise, virtual and augmented reality content is democratizing access. Most people can’t afford front row seats to the Super Bowl or fly inside an active volcano, but virtual reality (VR) can re-create these experiences at virtually no cost. By creating 3D 360-degree content, to either showcase an experience or brand, users are more readily willing to trust and believe in its authenticity.

The same way video-teleconferencing didn’t replace travel in the 90s, I don’t believe that VR will replace travel. Rather, it will inspire people to discover the world, or even get them to discover places that no longer exist, like Egypt at the time of the pharos.

I do think that VR will force brands and destinations alike to be truthful about their value proposition; because travelers will continue sharing their experiences with their network on social media.


Blockchain and specifically crypto-currencies were all the rage in 2017. Imagine: this nascent technology, which allows for a decentralized and secure storage and sharing of information, has the potential to increase trust while minimizing friction and corruption. Beyond finance, Blockchain, or Distributed Ledger Technology, has the potential to be applied across a variety of other fields.

One such area is travel security, and more specifically biometrics, given the need to verify and authenticate the identity of individuals as they cross international borders.

While biometrics are only a piece of the puzzle to achieve secure and seamless cross-border travel, this technology has the potential to make a real difference. What will be essential is to establish inclusivity, interoperability, scalability and financing!

If the travel and tourism industry plans to achieve its targets of nearly doubling air passengers to 7.8 billion by 2036, it will have no choice but to integrate enabling technologies to support its growth and create a speedy, authentic, personalized, seamless and secure experience for tomorrow’s travelers.

See also

The future of identity

Blockchain in air travel

The new experience in travel

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