The last 20 years have seen technology impact the travel industry more than it has in the preceding 100 years. Not only can we travel faster, but we are also privileged to better, more comfortable accommodations along with the comprehensive tools that let us do it more often than ever.
While this technology has become part of everyday life, it can be easy to forget how many companies and initiatives have made an impact on this market.
The Rise of the Sharing Economy
Everyone knows that Uber and AirBnB have shaken the transportation and accommodation industries to their cores. Not content with doing business in their primary industries, these titans have branched out. Uber now offers food delivery services through Uber Eats and AirBnB has recently launched bookable thematic Experiences led by locals.
The folks at Couchsurfing have been around since 2004 and they changed the way people visit new cities. Where you once had to find a hostel or friendly bar to socialize with other travelers, Couchsurfing offered folks instant access to like-minded locals in addition to a free place to stay.
Smarter Apps That Know You
There are tons of travel apps that cover every conceivable aspect of your experience: from planning, to mapping to journalling. But apps are becoming more and more advanced every day, combining functionality and smarts to better serve the traveler. With the consolidation of information and data, apps should now have the ability to utilize all this information to present your trips in a most useful and personalized fashion.
Travel apps like Firef.ly promise to make smart recommendations based on your current situation: the weather, the time of day, your interests, budgets and so on. It further combines this with a personal travel journal so you will have an easy way to recall your journeys.
Traveling Without Traveling
Virtual reality is now hot again. With VR headsets cheaper and less clunky than ever, travel brands are beginning to explore this form of content presentation. Thomas Cook offers VR videos of destinations and you can download apps like Ascape to explore curated lists of VR content from around the world.
If VR headsets induce nausea, there’s always YouTube to escape to. With bloggers, travel brands, tourism boards, and the like using videos to showcase a destination, it’s very likely that you are able to get a sense of a place or particular experience with a simple online search. Think of it as a virtual ‘try before you book.'
Bridging Language Barriers
Where you once had to rely on a translator or a poorly utilized language book, you can now tap into translation technology such as these earbuds by Waverly Labs. Plug in a microphone-equipped earbud and have the other party plug one in too: a translator app then does the magic in real time! This is as close as we can currently get to Star Trek’s universal translator.
Google’s Translate app lets you fire up your smartphone camera and translates text on signs, menus and more in real time. 52 languages are available offline so you won’t need wi-fi or mobile data.
Traveling For Business
The rise of the digital nomad now means that people travel for new experiences and work. There are an estimated 9 million digital nomads in Europe and 53 million in the US.
You don’t need to be a ‘travel blogger’ to do this. Startups like Buffer are running on remote teams and there are plenty of trades that are portable: graphic/UX/UI designer, developer, writer, editor, filmmaker, digital marketer, the list goes on.
Photo: Flickr / Sean MacEntee