The travel industry is growing and changing at a rapid pace. According to the forecasts of the World Travel & Tourism Council, this sector is expected to grow by an average of 4% per year over the next ten years. According to IATA estimates, by 2035, the number of passengers travelling by air will almost double to 7.2 billion. In addition, the exponential growth of new technologies makes it difficult to imagine how our travels will look like in 15 years. Which of the emerging technological solutions will remain relevant? And, on the other hand, which of the currently widely used tools will become obsolete?
Amadeus is at the largest global technology provider for the travel industry — serving airlines, airports, hotels, and travel agencies. Last year, it celebrated its 30th anniversary. The firm's mission is to shape the future of the travel, which is why it places great store on analysis of a rapidly changing reality, trying to shape it on the one hand, and — on the other — striving to adapt to global trends in technology.
Looking ahead to the near future, Amadeus' experts identify four innovative technological advances that have the greatest impact on the tourism industry.
1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Widely used in the industry, allowing for the personalisation of customer experiences when buying services, AI algorithms are used by all major players who sell their products online — from airlines to online travel agencies.
A relatively new application of AI in the industry — and one that is expected to rise significantly in the future — is the use of AI in combination with the material world. An example can be a solution build by CrowdVision, a start-up which Amadeus has partnered with. It uses video recordings‘ analysis and artificial intelligence to help airports manage the passengers’ flow in real time, minimize queues and use the resources more efficiently.
Artificial Intelligence also has the potential to be used as a personal travel assistant helping us to plan every aspect of our journey — from planning, through the trip to return. By analyzing the data of specific travellers’ behaviour, it will be able to present offers best suited to their expectations. Furthermore, it will recommend when it is best to travel to avoid crowds or enjoy good weather. In addition, the personal travel assistant equipped with artificial intelligence will act as a personal guide, that would suggest sightseeing tours taking into account our personal interests. This means that in the near future, travellers will experience personalised journeys every step of the way.
2. Big Data
Both travel sellers and travel providers are looking for ways to offer more than just core products. To achieve this, they propose ancillary services during the trip as well as at the destination. However, providing a comprehensive offer can be challenging as it requires access to a multitude of additional content be it types of ground transportation, accommodation offer or restaurants. Big Data analysis enables easy personalisation of all these services to the individual traveller. For example, if a couple is booking a romantic trip to Paris to celebrate Valentine's Day, they can also be offered additional services like a romantic dinner at a Champs-Élysées restaurant or an airport transfer in a luxury limousine with a glass of Prosecco on board.
A blockchain is a secure distributed public digital ledger which records information. This technology has many potentially important applications for the tourism industry. For example, it can unify points accrued in member and loyalty programs, it can help you track luggage, or facilitate international payments. Blockchain can also be helpful in improving traveller identification, which will make it easier to navigate through the airport.
Blockchain's decentralised nature allows for the cooperation between different partners in the travel industry, which may be key to its success.
Amadeus sees blockchain as a technology that can change the functioning of the tourism industry. However, transaction processing is a key factor in service distribution; at the moment for on-line travel agencies blockchain’s processing speeds are far too low.
4. Chatbots and other communication platforms
Currently, there are more than 3 billion active users of instant messengers, such as WhatsApp and Messenger; 70% of smartphone users regularly use chat applications. Amadeus uses this channel to help customers improve communication with travellers and use chats as a new sales channel.
The three most important chatbot applications in the industry are:
Customer support: the opportunity to engage in dialogue with travellers and automate requests and complaints
E-commerce: assisting with the purchase of products, as well as implementation and facilitating of one-click payments directly from the chat
Content delivery: providing users with direct communication (such as advertising) personalised with the use of AI algorithms
It's all about communication and efficiency
Clear, consistent and easily available communication channels are very important for the modern traveller. New types of communication platforms can enhance communication with travellers throughout their trips. For business travellers, this means improved care and efficiency, but also peace of mind — both for them and their companies.
These four technologies are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many solutions in the market that are already irreversibly changing the travel industry by providing travellers with intense experiences like never before. Worth mentioning are at least the augmented reality, Beacon technology, or biometric face recognition. Amadeus invests in these solutions on an ongoing basis, and then validates their capabilities cooperating with customers, business partners and start-ups.
Amadeus was founded in 1987 as a European alternative to Sabre, the American computerised reservation system that link travel agents to carriers' booking systems. Today, the two players have the bulk of the global market in this business.