Next-Gen Technology for Travel Recovery

August 2021

Digital transformation in travel has been propelled by the pandemic, with travel businesses investing in safe and seamless tech in the short term for the restart. While technologies like AI are beginning to be deployed to tackle the current challenges faced by destinations and local communities like over-tourism and visitor dispersal. Next gen game changers like 6G are still on the horizon offering truly immersive travel experiences and new ways to solve the climate emergency.

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Key findings

Optimum acceleration

Digital transformation has picked up speed, caused by the pandemic, creating disruption to consumers’ lives and being the only space at times for them to connect, shop, dream of travelling and socialise. Travel businesses have responded by ramping up digital and IT investment and deployment, particularly to improve the customer journey.

Digital health apps take off

As part of the pandemic response, governments and international organisations like IATA and the EU have rolled out digital health schemes in line with mass vaccinations. However, challenges remain including interoperability and non-discrimination of the unvaccinated.

AI goes wide

AI with biometrics has been a major boon for travel businesses, and the potential of AI which ranges from data analytics, machine learning and deep learning to neural networks is enormous. For now, the focus for AI is firmly fixed on creating a safe, seamless and secure environment, while transitioning more to daily tasks and tackling major pain points.

Next gen promise

Next-generation technology is already being created and tested, including breakthroughs in sustainable aviation fuel and electric/hybrid aircraft to help reduce travel and tourism’s carbon footprint. Innovation is critical if the sector is to meet the self-regulated targets of CORSIA as well as the 1.5°C pathway for net zero emissions by 2050.

Constant endeavour

Pioneers in sustainable travel such as Intrepid are going one step beyond their B Corp status to embrace science-based targets, which ensures that they are fully aligned with the very latest thinking on climate change and on track for the long-term goal of net zero.

True game changer

With 5G not fully up and running yet, work has begun by the likes of China, the US and Europe on 6G and its potential capabilities. Tech omnipresence will usher in an era of hyperconnectivity and offer consumers truly immersive experiences.

Proceed with purpose

Advances in AI and wireless speeds will provide humanity ways to solve challenges like the climate emergency, poverty and urbanisation. Technology should be the means to a purposeful end for all stakeholders across the travel and tourism value chain.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Accelerating Digital Transformation

Pandemic pushes consumers online in their droves
Path to purchase: Importance of flexibility to boost conversion
Path to purchase: Consumers move to mobile first for booking travel
Path to purchase: Being valued is central to post-trip loyalty

Accelerating digital transformation

Digital nears ubiquitous presence and usage
Travel businesses prioritise digital strategies as default crisis response
Pace of tech adoption slumps as pandemic derails activity
Technology toolkit powered by data and AI

Tech for Safe and Seamless Travel

Pandemic and its multifaceted impacts
Positive first steps for digital health schemes for reopening
Challenge of interoperability is a major pain point
Touchless access must not come at a high cost – inclusion is vital
EU Digital Certificate – a lifeline for tourism
Digital health passports - IATA Travel Pass
Permissible travel = company & traveller confidence x government permission

Faster AI Adoption Post-Pandemic

Ongoing deployment of AI to improve service and experience delivery
Use of AI transitions from health crisis to daily tasks
Advances in conversational AI to drive voice applications
Air travel ramps up self-service automation for safety
Biometrics and ID management critical for safe and secure travel
Airport.ai – AI empowering consumers and relieving pressure points
Venice’s Smart Control Room – tackling overtourism head-on with AI

Next Gen Game Changers

Climate SOS – pandemic acts as a wake-up call for action
Every country facing the same struggle to achieve net zero by 2050
Future investment in green innovation by travel businesses
Climate action requires more focus on innovation
Aviation sustainability initiatives underpinned by CORSIA
Volocopter looks to Paris after Dubai for urban air mobility expansion
Intrepid goes further with science-based targets in the race to zero

Key Takeaways

6G on the far horizon will usher in era of hyperconnectivity
Call to action to speed up digital transformation for the greater good
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