Credit: Marco Verch – Flickr
Breakthrough technologies are changing our environment. And the tourism industry is no exception. In recent years, digital transformation has become essential for the ever-changing travel industry. From mobile apps to augmented reality, technology is a game-changer for travelers and hospitality workers. So what comes next? We explore three technology trends that are taking the world of tourism by storm.
According to Statista, more than 6 billion people own a smartphone worldwide. This number could soar to exceed 7 billion users by 2027. And as digital detox becomes more and more popular, most tourists no longer want to travel without their mobile. Thus, the travel industry has invested heavily in mobile technologies.
Mobile apps now cover all aspects of travel. Airlines and hotels started early, then museums and heritage sites followed suit. Beyond simply reserving a seat or a room, some companies even offer innovative options to make life easier for their customers. Hilton, for example, has developed a digital key enabling contactless check-in.
QR codes have also revolutionized the hotel industry. Several restaurants now provide exclusive QR codes that unlock virtual menus and sometimes take customer orders without physical contact. Other leisure venues have used QR codes to reduce traffic congestion. The Harry Potter store in New York introduced this device to save customers from waiting in line for hours. Instead, customers join a virtual queue by scanning the code with their mobile. A text message finally notifies them that they can enter the store.
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Robots were once a science fiction fantasy. Yet, the use of robots has become commonplace in the hospitality industry. The first hotel with robots has opened in Nagasaki, Japan. The Henn Na Hotel – literally “the weird hotel” – provided robots with voice and facial recognition to perform reception duties, in addition to check-in and check-out services. Hilton came up with a robot concierge that can respond to guest requests and learn from every passing interaction.
Airports have joined the robot trend in the wake of hotel experiments. KLM’s airport assistant appeared at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as early as 2018. Kobe Airport and Bangalore Airport, among other hubs, subsequently released travel assistant robots. But robots have also been put in place to strengthen airport security. Developed in Silicon Valley, Knightscope robots can autonomously detect concealed weapons. Other devices like Kansai Airport’s Secom complement human security teams to patrol and monitor various areas with built-in cameras.
Tourism ranks among the fastest growing industries in the world. And with more and more offers, its main sectors are looking to reinvent themselves. This is why augmented reality has gained momentum, as it promotes interactivity to improve the customer experience.
Augmented reality applications are a good example for tourist attractions. Ancient heritage sites were already taking advantage of this technology to offer virtual tours and bring ruins thousands of years old to life. In Lebanon, augmented reality allows visitors to switch between Baalbek Roman Temple as it appeared in 215 AD, and as it appears today. Hotels have also toyed with the concept, and many resorts are now offering 360-degree virtual tours that allow potential guests to check out locations 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 example, have implemented augmented reality to bring Disney characters into children’s rooms. Virtual reality sites have also mixed games and tourism. The leader in leisure attractions in the Gulf, Emaar Entertainment, has opened an AR park in Abu Dhabi. Yet the place does not allow gambling as per local regulations. However, Arab players can take advantage of the best gambling sites on line. Expert reviewers have scoured the internet to find reliable casinos and sportsbooks. They’ve put together tips to ensure a secure experience, from anonymous payment methods to security features. Gulf players can thus access the best casino games, including live dealer sessions in augmented reality.
Travel is picking up momentum at a steady pace. But the tourism industry must stay ahead of the curve to respond to new travel trends. In addition, emerging technologies are a crucial issue for the main players in the sector. And the digitization of tourism may not be a fad but a revolution.