It’s become such an important facet of our lives that it feels like modern technology has been around for ever; in fact, in terms of recorded history, it’s hardly been here at all. But it’s impact has been significant to say the least. The internet – arguably the most significant revolution since the Industrial one – has paved the way for all manner of services and platforms that have rapidly altered all parts of our economies. One of those is most definitely travel – so here are five ways tech’s making travel that little bit easier.
- Biometrics mean getting through airports is a breeze
Biometric technology is revolutionising the safe transfer of holidaymakers through major travel hubs like airports and ferry terminals. The days of queuing up and passing customs desk after customs desk, showing your physical passport each time, is set to be a thing of the past. Instead we’ll move through travel terminals seamlessly and fuss-free, using biometric identification like fingerprint and iris scans instead. The number of people who fly every year (already in the billions) is only set to rise, and biometrics provide a way to better manage all this extra capacity without skimping on security. While a fully biometric airport doesn’t yet exist, governments all over the world are doing major trials. Dublin Airport, for example, has a number of e-gates, while over in Australia the government has embarked on an ambitious plan to roll out biometric identification across all the country’s international airports by 2020.
- Thanks to tech, trip planning is bespoke
Go to a travel agent and you’ll likely be presented with a somewhat restricted choice of holiday options. For some people that’s fine, but for others it’s a little too identikit. A big trend in the travel industry is the DIY bespoke trip. Instead of having to book a holiday as a package, being directed where to go and how to get there, we’re taking it upon ourselves to organise our own trips, tailoring the itinerary to suit our preferences. The internet has made this so so easy, with 80% of people now booking their holiday online.
- Virtual reality makes trip planning oh-so-real
It seems to have passed the litmus test – virtual reality (VR) is here to stay. While one of the main uses of VR is in gaming, it’s also got a major role to play in making travel enjoyable and easy. From 360 degree video to immersive online experiences, travel brands are using virtual reality to help market destinations and experiences and offer travellers a whole new way of planning their trips and enjoying their stay. A good example of VR being deployed in this way is Marriott Hotels’ VRoom Service which allowed guests to use a Samsung Gear VR headset and experience travelling in Beijing, Chile and Rwanda.
- Digital guidebooks are immersive and authoritative
While there’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ guidebook, the internet is increasingly the main port-of-call for travel inspiration. From information-rich websites to up-to-the-minute apps, there’s a whole host of content to be found, from cheap flights tips and hidden gems to bespoke travel itineraries and much more. One of the main benefits of online content is that it’s fresh – guidebooks are often only updated once a year, some not at all. Go online and you’re able to find up-to-date information. What’s more, all this information can be housed in your smartphone – no need to carry a large tome around with you.
- Keeping in touch need not cost the earth
It used to be the case that calling friends and family from far-flung destinations was a serious holiday expense. Thankfully, technology has helped change all that. As long as you have an internet connection, it’s easy, and free, to keep in touch with the ones you love. Services like Skype and WhatsApp mean you can let people know how you’re getting on in a matter of seconds.
By Irma Hunkeler: