Travel technology has come to the fore in the last few years. Nearly all of the major trends listed were directly or indirectly caused by pandemic-related issues.
Much of the travel industry continues to recover after the pandemic, with some indicators better than last year despite growing concerns about the economy.
As the industry continues to evolve technologically, there are several areas to watch in the coming year. Here are five highlights to watch.
To streamline the travel experience for their customers, airlines and airports are looking to implement biometric features into their everyday use. Biometrics enables technology personalization using a person’s biological reading, such as using a fingerprint as an unlock passcode or using facial recognition to verify identity.
Despite criticisms over privacy and data security issues, United Airlines and Delta Airlines, along with car rental company Avis, are currently experimenting with facial, iris and fingerprint biometrics. Registered passengers can get through security he checkpoints faster by verifying their identity using kiosks provided by Clear, a biometrics company that went public in June 2021.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is also piloting technology that matches live facial visuals with recorded ID photos. The organization is reportedly testing the program at 16 airports nationwide, and may expand this year.
Southeast Asia’s travel tech boom
Iterative Capital has raised $55 million in its second fund focused on general technology Southeast Asia. One of his portfolio companies is GoZayaan, an online travel agency specializing in the region.
Southeast Asia lags the West by 20-30 years in terms of investment in travel technology in general, but is catching up quickly.
“It’s just taken off. It’s like Silicon Valley 20 years ago,” said Brian Ma, founder and managing partner of Singapore-based Iterative Capital.
“The middle class is growing at a much faster rate than in the United States, so more ordinary people have more money to spend. I’m starting to think about it.”
The region is so backward that it has its own travel problems that require their own solutions. That’s why a budding group of travel tech startups exists.
The Korea Tourism Startup Center launched an accelerator focused on travel tech startups in Singapore last fall, launching 13 companies pitching their products to expand across Southeast Asia.
Investment in aviation technology
The company has already announced plans to finally modernize its operations following the system outage Southwest experienced in the last week of December. It was a disaster for Southwest, but its example could be the impetus other airlines need to modernize and avoid similar situations.
Skift has already received press messages from tech companies looking to share their thoughts on what happened. Whether it’s scheduling optimization (the crux of the costly Southwest problem) or otherwise, New Year’s industry executives may be more open to what innovators have to offer.
One statement from Skit.ai CEO and co-founder Sourabh Gupta was intended to replace call center workers with voice bots that use artificial intelligence to recreate human-like conversations. A startup that has raised $23 million for its product.
“By combining voice AI technology with human agents to significantly improve competitiveness, failures like those that occurred this past holiday weekend are less likely to occur. It permeates every aspect of the airline industry, including customer service.”
Continued adoption of hotel technology
Hotels are lagging behind in adopting new technology, but they are on the rise post-pandemic. One of the main reasons is the severe labor shortage in the hospitality industry.
Budget hotels are adding features like contactless check-in and housekeeping to eliminate the need for many employees, while luxury hotels are looking to adopt their own types of technology. .
But many hotels have a long way to go to reach the modern, personalized experience their customers demand. Most hotels don’t offer features like mobile check-in, room location selection, or even TV streaming services.
Short-term rental platform growth
Last year saw dozens of financings totaling billions of dollars for various platforms dedicated to short-term rentals and software to help property managers organize their businesses.
These platforms focus not only on vacations, but also on niche areas such as business travelers and remote workers.
Although some consumer demand for vacation rentals has slowed, the industry is generally expected to continue growing in the near future.
Some venture-backed platforms like Le Collectionist are also focusing on acquiring travel agencies and other small businesses to consolidate a fragmented industry.