ExperiencePlus! Blog

The Future Of Travel – Digitization and Innovation

view from an airplane

Speculation about who, how, when and what the future of travel will look like fills my inbox every day.  Newsletters from every corner of the travel industry include surveys, articles and industry experts imagining what will happen next. In an effort to summarize all the ideas and speculation we have started a new series in our newsletter called the Future of Travel.

The World Travel and Tourism Council published a report in collaboration with the leading management consulting firm Oliver Wyman in September 2020 that summarizes the four major trends they believe will change the Travel and Tourism space due to COVID-19.  Here is a summary what they saw happening in the Innovation and Digital space – the 3rd trend they identified as important to travel during a post COVID-19 world.

3. Innovation and Digitization

Innovation and technology advances don’t always affect travel companies the way they might affect an industry that relies heavily on technology to produce its core product like manufacturing. But in a year when experiencing new places was relegated to the screen, there has been a boom in adoption and acceptance of new technologies in this sector by both businesses and consumers. Using apps to check in to hotels and contactless payments may become a common and accepted practice long after it is “necessary”.  According to the report, there is a strong sense that airport experiences might become even more digitized than they are now with biometric verifications and e-gates being the norm.

Here at ExperiencePlus! we consider our travel niche to be an intersection between “active and adventure” travel and “experiential” travel.  As international travel ground to a halt this past year, there has been a proliferation of “virtual experiences” – some more successful than others. Museums, national parks, and tour operators opened their digital doors to “travelers” who wanted to wander their digital halls. Most notably, vacation home giant Airbnb offered virtual experiences on its platform and as 2020 drew to a close, tech giant Amazon launched its own version of a virtual experience marketplace with Amazon Explore.

It is hard to know how much of this will stick but this moment has certainly proved to be an interesting test for how virtual experiences could become more common even once movement across borders starts up again.  From our perspective, we still believe visiting a place in person is the best way to truly get to know it.  So we appreciate the fabulous videos from destinations like the one below from Portugal that helps us dream about going back to visiting new places and reminds us it is ok if we have to stop and wait just a tad bit longer to do that.

For the full WTTC report go here.

See our other posts in the Future of Travel series.