This is a viewpoint from David Chapple, event director for Travel Technology Europe.
It may sound like fantasy or something from an 1980s movie, but within the next ten years travel industry buyers are very optimistic that not only leisure trips to outer space but also travel at breakneck speeds on vacuum trains such as Sir Richard Branson’s Hyperloop will have hit the mainstream.
According to the latest research from Travel Technology Europe, three quarters (76%) of travel buyers expect that Hyperloop will be a mainstream technology within the next ten years, with only 4% of respondents saying that they think it will never become a reality.
The super high speed train will use magnets to lift it off the rails to reduce friction, travelling in a tunnel using vacuum technology to speed it along. It is aiming to run at incredible speeds of up to 760 mph – the Eurostar runs at 186mph as a point of comparison. If it did become mainstream the possibilities it would open up for travel are mind-blowing – imagine being able to cross the United States in a matter of hours or travel from London to Paris in 30 minutes.
Buyers optimistic on space travel
Commercial space travel has been touted for some time now, with Branson again one of the cheerleaders. Of the travel tech buyers we polled, 50% expect to see it become mainstream in the next ten years with 11% thinking it will never happen. One thing’s for sure, if it does happen it certainly won’t be replacing the two week holiday on the Costas. The prices will be astronomical, making it a pursuit strictly for the super elite.
Other emerging technologies that buyers are very confident will hit the mainstream are augmented reality, VR goggles in homes and self-driving cars.
Buyers are extremely confident that augmented reality technology is here to stay. 77% of buyers believe it will be mainstream within the next five years, with 14% already considering it to be mainstream. Only 3% believe it will be a passing fad. The technology is already being widely used by the travel industry. Some hotels, for example, are using interactive wall maps that guests can touch to find out information about their local area.
Augmented reality apps are also being used by attractions to organise games or quizzes for customers, by travel providers to offer directions and by restaurants for diners to see pictures of dishes. As this is an area with such huge potential for the travel industry, we have dedicated a lot of sessions to it at Travel Technology Europe.
Buyers are also confident that VR googles at home will become mainstream, with 76% of buyers expecting this to happen within the next five years and 14% already considering them to be mainstream. Early adopters and gamers have already been purchasing these in droves and we are starting to see more mainstream uses as well. They are already being used in the travel industry to help in-store staff sell product and give customers a taster for resorts and destinations.
We can expect this to become more widespread in 2018 and the possibilities for it are endless – virtual reality street maps could enable us to visit our hotels and explore destinations before we even touchdown.
85% of buyers expect self-driving cars to be mainstream in the next 10 years with no one saying that they believe this would never happen. Self-driving cars are already being driven and tested, what is yet to be seen is the extent to which they will be self-driving – will they require some oversight from the driver or will the person in the driving seat be able to recline their chair and read a novel? There are numerous health and safety, legal and insurance hurdles that would need to be overcome for the latter to become a reality.
Flying cars confined to science fiction
One technology buyers are not convinced on is flying cars. Flying police cars might have been a vision of the future in Blade Runner but it looks like for the time being they are going to be confirmed to the realms of science fiction. Only a third (30%) of respondents expected them to become mainstream in the next twenty years with 35% saying that they never expect to see a car take flight.
Knowing which emerging technologies are going to hit the mainstream is always a tricky science when it comes to planning Travel Technology Europe. Visitors want to know what technology baskets to put their eggs in and come to the show to find out. For that reason I can’t promise space rockets and hyperloop travel but visitors can expect to find plenty at the show about how augmented reality and virtual reality are making their impact on travel.
Register for free to attend Travel Technology Europe, 21st-22nd February 2018
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