The future of travel industry: trends and predictions. Part 2

In the previous part of this article we have debunked the impact of chatbots, artificial intelligence, AR, VR, blockchain and other digital tech on the evolvement of the travel industry.

However, the point is not that these innovations might have some impact on the target audience of your travel business. The point is, the target audience itself of the whole travel industry is changing. While showcasing the tours in the offices worked for Baby Boomers and Generation X, the Millennials are much more tech savvy, and they crave for more digital travel.

Millennials are the dominant strata of the world population since 2016, according to the US Labor Bureau report. They prefer interacting with self-service portals and chatbots to chatting with human customer support reps. They enjoy using their smartphones to receive the AR/VR experience, especially since it was announced by Apple in their AR SDK for iOS 11 release. Virtual tourism can become the next big thing, when anyone will be able to purchase a virtual tour inside the Louvre for a fraction of the cost of actually going to Paris. As for now, the travel business professionals do not see the potential of AR/VR for the tourism — but all of this will change once the first successful startup skyrockets.

What is even more important, Millennials are not only acting as the customers in the travel industry. They are also entering the market en masse and becoming the executives or the startups in the travel business. Being on the same page with the rest of the Generation Y, these Millennials know what they want to change — and are able to introduce these innovations.

Here at Globalluxsoft we have conducted a series of interviews with multiple travel business startups, experts and influencers, who were very kind to share their vision on the ways various digital travel trends influence the evolution of the industry at scale. These opinions were expressed in the first part of this article. Below are the excerpts of several more interviews.

Zachary Burau, Founder at Wanderift:

“In my opinion, nearly every industry has been affected by the startup craze except for the travel industry. With the exception of travel search engines like Booking.com, Kayak, and many others there has been little innovation when it comes to digital travel. Having seen this, I see a significant opportunity when it comes to innovations in digital travel specifically AI, chatbots, VR, etc. With travel being such a major part of our global economy innovations are needed to drive forward the user experience when it comes to travel. That is why I started Wanderift — the first airline travel membership. I believe Wanderift can shed a fresh new light on the travel industry, and I think there’s an opportunity for other companies with innovative concepts to disrupt the industry as well.”

Lizia O. Santos, Co-founder at City Catt:

“One of the greatest challenges for the travel industry today is introducing digital tech without disrupting the much needed human interaction. In the future, I expect travel companies will find ways to merge tech and human interactions in order to connect people with solutions that are both practical and personalized. If you lose the human touch, you lose the customization, so technology must be used to bring together travelers with the ones in their destination that can solve their problems and make sure they have an amazing experience.”

Eric Shepard, CEO at Trill Travel:

“I think the blockchain technology is going to make a huge impact in the travel industry. I also think experiences will continue to be a key factor in travel. Especially personalized experiences that involve AI.”

Marcus Räder, Founder and CEO at Hostaway:

“AI is already active in the vacation rental industry. AI helps investors analyze profitable markets. It helps property managers to add the right amenities and set the right rates. In the next few years, I expect an increase in chatbots as well. They can be helpful when answering individual questions from guests. 
 
 When a guest wants to book, they can ask questions on the website. After booking, a bot can help them with providing practical information regarding arrival, payments or additional services. During the check-in, chatbots can help guide the guest through the accommodation and arrange practicalities such as verify ID’s. They can also be helpful during the stay to ensure guest satisfaction.
Blockchain currencies certainly have their fit and the first “Bitcoin-Airbnb” named CryptoBnB is already launched. I do think there’s a large demand for buying accommodation using cryptocurrencies, but I doubt the major OTA’s will accept them as payment any time soon.”

Dennis Pitcock, Founder & CEO at Jauntify:

“I see little potential for VR usage in the travel business so far. Definite AI in personalization. Instead of a general rank, ranks will be personalized based off likes, previous bookings, and collaborative filters. Chatbots are a given, but more fancy trees than actual AI. I’d hope to see more ML chatbots integrated with smart speakers.
Siri is quite dumb, but Alexa and Google Assistant will be at the forefront. I’m betting on Google integrating it’s assistant with it’s travel products, especially when they integrate their assistant with more devices, such as smart TVs and automobiles through their Android platform and Linux versions. The distant future will have smart speaker playing the role of a travel concierge, that’s if the data structures and integrations keep evolving.”

Brantley Pace, CEO and Co-founder at Tripcents:

“For almost 2 decades meta searches and OTAs dominated the market with desktop based search. That is changing as online travel bookings shift to mobile. Searching millions of flights and hotels across 7 tabs on your desktop browser has worked for years. That experience changes on a 4 in. mobile screen. That means that the mobile experience won’t be driven by search aggregators like in the years past. Instead it will be by companies that best leverage data science, AI, predictive analytics, chatbots, voice commands, automation and personalization. 
 
 If you are a company that exists primarily on the web with mobile as a supplementarity platform, then you need to rethink how customers will engage with your product primarily on mobile over the next 3–5 years.”

Simon Robain, CEO and Co-founder at TicTacTrip:

“Comparing the prices for the different means of transportation is now something very natural for the travelers who are always looking for the best deal. However, the price is very hard to predict: the situation in the travel industry is changing very fast. In addition, I guess a bunch of new means of transport will appear due the global warming, such as electric cars that are polluting the environment less. Besides, the prices for the tickets are fluctuating a lot every day, which makes it even more unpredictable.
Moreover, I think we also have to pay attention on the evolution of traditional travel business agencies and hotels, for instance. People are more and more relying on digital tech to book their trips and holiday services, so many travel companies are developing solutions to help the managers of these traditional firms to compete. I think we should keep an eye en this.
More generally in the travel industry, I think one of the major digital trends that will become mainstream in the next few years is paying with our smartphones. Is it very popular in China but it’s hardly used in Europe. As we will implement this tool to greet Chinese markets, that will influence the US travel businesses to do the same in my opinion.”

Meggie Bouchard Bergevin, Director of Online Product Department at Ventura TRAVEL:

“So, how I see the travel industry in 3–5 years?
Well, imho, the industry will tend to offer more and more sustainable trips. The majority of travellers will want an experience “a la carte”, more authentic and focused on “security” and “comfort”. Of course there will still be “all inclusive” but it will lose its appeal. 
Regarding digital, AI will play a big part to offer a customized and personalized experience to the travellers booking online. Human interactions will still exist and they are necessary sometimes, but there is a lot of repetitive tasks that can be automated and we see potential already very clearly. Think about Google Assistant demo that was released only a couple of weeks ago. I also believe in transparency and think that travellers will have all the information needed to know that they’ve made the best choice in terms of value for the money. 
All and all, a great future for digital travel… Exciting times!”

Conclusions on the future of travel industry

As you can see, multiple startups and executives employed in travel industry acknowledge the importance and impact of various digital tech that finds its way into the travel business. AI and chatbots, AR/VR, blockchain, and other innovations will disrupt the field during the next 3–5 years.

Even though the majority of our respondents do not see the potential for using AR/VR in the travel business, Apple surely does. iPhone and iPad manufacturer believes these technologies to be vital for the development of virtual tourism and augmented traveller experiences. We will see who is right in 5 short years.

The question is — will your travel business be riding atop this wave, or will you be rolled over?