Automation, authenticity and blockchain are the three biggest travel technology trends to watch over the next decade, according to a new report by travel technology provider Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR). The Sabre Labs 2018 Emerging Technology Report focuses on evolving technologies and trends that will impact travel over the next decade, and it evaluates automation, authenticity and blockchain as three major areas for consideration.
"Increasingly, people are coming to understand that the travel business is really a technology business," said Philip Likens, director of Sabre Labs, in a written statement. "Even the simplest journey generates huge amounts of data. Collecting, indexing and understanding that data – and how we apply that understanding to improve every traveler's experience – is what will drive real innovation across the entire travel ecosystem. Whether it is A.I. and machine learning to automate and optimize tasks, the counter-intuitive ability to deliver authentic experiences digitally, or using new protocols (such as distributed ledgers) so a traveler can head to the airport and leave their wallet and ID at home – on purpose – tech is going to reshape the travel experience."
The report offers an extensive analysis of the three major areas Sabre Labs believes will have the most significant impact on the industry:
Automation is not a new idea. However, advancements in A.I. and machine learning offer the potential for step-changes in how we may be served in our digital environment, Sabre said. Awareness and cognitive capacity for machines suggest a huge range of opportunities for those serving the travel space to completely rethink when and what to sell, how to staff and operate their businesses, and how to anticipate and exceed their own customers' needs.
In our current age, trust is in low supply – so authenticity and authentic experiences are more valuable than ever, Sabre said. At the same time, businesses increasingly need to rely on technology and digitization to interact with their customers at scale.
Huge volatility in the price of cryptocurrencies has been dominating headlines, but serve to overshadow the value in the underlying blockchain technology, according to Sabre. Separating crypto hype from the actual potential of distributed ledger technology – which enable secure, "trustless" transactions to take place – can be hard to do. But there is significant promise for blockchain as it relates to travel, not the least of which is this: imagine heading off on a round-the-world trip without having to bring your passport or wallet.
Concluded Likens, "Tomorrow's travelers have a set of expectations fueled by ubiquitous access to information, smooth transactional experiences, and increasingly personalized offers. There is tremendous opportunity for companies to begin thinking about how their brand can be agile enough to meaningfully interact with tomorrow's travelers."