This week I attended the Travel Technology Europe Conference in London's Olympia. It is the only event of its kind that specializes in technology systems and software for the travel industry. While I wasn't overly impressed with many of the companies on offer (especially compared to the tech I saw at Confex and the Event Production Show the week before), one talk in particular really caught my interest.
'What technology will the future traveller use' was a demo session that took place yesterday afternoon and involved an insight into what technology travellers will be using in the near future and how this technology could change the travel industry forever. It included incredibly energetic and inspiring talks from Nicholas Gilbert, CEO of Aerial Empire, Henry Stuart, Co-Founder of Visualise and Joakin Everstin, Innovation Manager with Sabre.
Wearable Drones and Aerial Photography
First up was Nicholas Gilbert, a pilot and CEO of Aerial Empire, who talked about the rise of aerial photography and introduced the audience to some of the latest high-tech drones on the market, such as Nixie - the wearable camera that can fly. Speaking of wearable drones, he said they are simultaneously 'cool and terrifying' referring to the fact that we are now using military technology for pleasure!
His company 'Aerial Empire' makes incredible videos for top class hotels around the world, combining aerial photography and flawless transitions to create viral video content. He says using drones for photography, especially within the hotel and adventure tourism industry, is a key way to stay on ahead of market trends and to gain maximum exposure for your brand.
Next up was Henry Stuart, Co-Founder of Visualise - a Virtual Reality (VR) Agency with some of the world's top photographers and videographers. The company has worked with some of the world's most iconic brands and events including South African Touriism, the London Olympics and the Royal Wedding.
He spoke about Virtual Reality headsets, comparing the current bulky product to 'the original mobile phone - the brick'. The hardware will drastically change over the next few years, in the same way smartphones were improved and developed over the last decade. These VR headsets allow travellers to see and hear and experience a hotel, a resort, a waterfall, a roller coaster or a beach before they have ever left the country.
He emphasized that these 360 degree virtual tours will be available to everyone, anywhere. He said, "This doesn't live on the headset. It lives on millions of mobile phones around the world. You can share an image at any stage. Anyone, anywhere can jump into the experience at that point."
Google Glass and 'Location Based Services'
The last speaker was Joakim Everstin from Sabre - one of the biggest travel market places in the world. Joakim talked us through Google Glass and latest innovations in similar technologies but what was more interesting was his view on 'location based services'.
Location based services offer individuals specific offers or services depending on where they are located within a building, For example, if you are entering an airport you could get a message offering you to upgrade to a 'fastrack' ticket allowing you to skip long security queues. Or receiving a text message once you sit down on the plane, asking if you want to upgrade to a higher class to avoid screaming children and cramped leg space.
This can be done by pinpointing exactly where a person is within a building using WiFi triangulation and i-beacon points. Technology allows us to know where a person is within a building down to to a few meters.
He said, "In the future, you may not need a room key for your hotel - the i-beacon in the room will let you know when you are at your room and then you can use your smartphone to enter."
So, should we be excited about the future of travel or is it all a little invasive and slightly...terrifying?!