Athletes participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing had a unique experience as their travel involved the use of robots for various tasks such as food preparation, temperature checks, and even carrying the Olympic flame underwater.
The prevalence of technology in travel is not just limited to professional athletes, but even regular travelers encounter technological advancements that they might not have experienced before.
The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in accelerating the adoption of technology in travel, especially for contactless payments, food service, and other such needs.
Mastercard saw a surge in the use of contactless payments at grocery stores between February and March 2020, which grew twice as fast as non-contactless transactions. Additionally, the number of active restaurants on UberEats increased by over 75% from December 31, 2019, to December 31, 2020.
Whether you found the Olympic robots intriguing or unsettling, the integration of technology into travel has proven to be highly advantageous for most travelers. It has reduced wait times, helped travelers save money, and eliminated the need for close contact with others. As we move forward into 2022, here are some of the top travel technology advancements to look out for.
Apps for booking hotels And Selecting Your Preferred Room
Nowadays, most prominent hotel chains offer free apps that come with booking and live chat features. However, these apps have received significant updates recently, making them even more useful.
For instance, Hilton launched a new feature last summer that allows users to book and instantly confirm connecting rooms through their app or website. This feature has been especially advantageous for groups traveling together.
Moreover, Hilton’s app now features a map of the hotel that enables users to choose their preferred room from a selection of available options. Whether it’s a tranquil room far from the elevator or a room conveniently located nearby, users can now easily select the room that suits their preferences.
Smart Gadgets Serving As Digital Keys For Rooms
In the digital age, several apps have emerged as a convenient digital front desk that enables you to use your smartphone and smartwatch as digital keys. For instance, villa in Baga beach goa uses Bluetooth technology to enable guests to unlock their hotel rooms with their phones.
The popular hotel chain Hyatt made things even more accessible for Apple users by becoming the first hotel brand to offer room keys in Apple Wallet. At select Hyatt hotels, guests can tap their iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock their rooms, eliminating the need to open the Hyatt app.
Similarly, Hilton has been offering digital keys since 2015, but last year, it introduced Digital Key Share, a feature that enables more than one guest to have digital access. The feature is available at approximately 80% of Hilton’s hotels worldwide.
Virtual Waiting Lines
Private biometric screening company Clear recently announced its acquisition of another company named Whyline, which specializes in minimizing wait times for customers at crowded areas like airports and stadiums. The acquisition is expected to improve Clear’s virtual queues for various procedures such as vaccine status checks and access to airport lounges.
In the same vein, Disney launched Genie, a new feature in its U.S. theme park apps in October 2022. Genie is designed to help vacationers make the most of their time by recommending efficient itineraries based on an analysis of current crowds and lines.
Delivery Apps As A Substitute For In-Room Dining Service
Recently, food delivery apps have been challenging traditional room service by providing guests with a wider range of food options from local restaurants, and without the exorbitant prices often associated with hotel room service.
Hotels are taking advantage of this trend by outsourcing food delivery to third-party companies. For instance, Hyatt collaborated with Gopuff, a snack delivery service, in 2021 to offer prepackaged and hot meals to guests at select Hyatt Place locations. Following the program’s success, Hyatt has expanded the partnership to more properties across the country.
Automated And App-Enabled Food Delivery In Airports Using Robots
The process of waiting in long airport restaurant lines may soon become a thing of the past, thanks to the emergence of food delivery apps like AtYourGate. With this app, you can easily order and pay for food from participating airport restaurants and pick it up without any hassle.
Moreover, AtYourGate has recently been experimenting with cutting-edge technology that eliminates the need for physical food pick-up altogether. As part of a pilot program launched in September, robots are now being deployed to roam around the premises of Los Angeles International Airport, delivering food directly to passengers at their respective gates.
Growth Of Car Rentals Powered By Mobile Apps
Peer-to-peer car-sharing is a game-changer for the car rental industry. Getaround is one such platform that allows users to rent cars by the hour, making it a more flexible and convenient option for travelers.
Unlike traditional car rental services, you can book and unlock Getaround cars using an app, eliminating the need to meet up with the owner to exchange keys.
The platform has been expanding rapidly, and in 2021 alone, Getaround added 10 new states to its portfolio, including Hawaii, bringing the total to 22 states where the service is available.
Which Developments Are Responsible For The Latest Travel Tech Trends?
In the hospitality industry, trends refer to general shifts in consumer behavior that impact the sector. Numerous factors contribute to these changes, but emerging technology has played a significant role in recent years.
These technologies have led to the adoption of smart speakers in hotels, virtual reality tours provided by travel companies, and new, efficient methods of checking in that do not require speaking to reception staff or waiting in queues. In our personal lives, we have also seen a rise in the use of contactless payments, voice search, and mobile solutions. As a result, the tourism industry has followed this trend.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated these changes, leading to a higher demand for solutions such as cleaning robots. However, these developments reflect the natural progression of technology in response to changing consumer preferences and needs.