The travel industry is set to break through barriers of reality, resources and even the upper atmosphere in the 2020s.
We are now well on our way into the new decade. The 2010s brought revolutionary changes like ridesharing, Instagram (and Insta Pots), 4G data and virtual assistants commonly known as Alexa and Siri. But when it comes to travel, the revolution has only just begun.
The close of the last decade brought us the greatest number of travelers boarding flights than ever before. Now the 2020s are poised to transform what travel means to different people around the world.
Here are seven quick hits (+ a bonus) on things I predict will transform the way both travelers and the travel industry operate in the 2020s:
- Artificial intelligence (AI) will be commonplace in the workplace. McKinsey Global Institute states only 5% of all jobs can be fully automated. However, 60% of jobs could have 30% of their workload automated. Expect to see co-bots (collaborative robots) leveraging the power of AI working alongside you giving you more time to focus on the complex, creative and strategic aspects of your day-to-day. I work with machine-learning revenue management technology on the daily, so I am already doing this.
- 5G will bring an evolution in global connectivity capabilities. Forbes provides an overview of 5G here, but what I think is most exciting about 5G is not the speed at which we’ll be able to stream Disney+ but the ability to build a 5G infrastructure almost anywhere to support business sectors. 5G networks will enable connectivity in large buildings, facilities and population centers unlike ever before (thanks in part to the small size of 5G towers). This will ultimately connect more tools, devices and wearable technology to the internet to improve business productivity at factories, hospitals, etc.
- Augmented reality is leading us to parallel realities. Delta Airlines recently revealed their plans to roll out hyper-personalized and more seamless travel experiences. But, before Delta can use the same monitor to simultaneously display different information to each traveler, we all have smartphones that can already do this. Digital information overlaid on a real environment through a smartphone could navigate you through your desired destination in any airport, country and language. Forget about clunky VR head gear—smart phones will augment and personalize our way into parallel universes.
- Uncertainty is the new normal: try not to predict an outcome but prepare to adapt to any outcome. In the United States alone, 2019 saw 14 separate $1 billion weather-related disasters. These assessments estimate rebuild costs but do not take into account the effect on demand and revenue related to tourism in impacted areas. Climate change poses challenges for our industry but so do politics, economics, elections and, of course, public health concerns and any resulting travel restrictions. Support your teams (and families), build your systems, implement your processes to anticipate change and prepare for the unpredictable in the only way we can. FYI: AI can be a good helper here, too.
- Going green takes flight. Finally, garbage in does not mean garbage out. British Airways is committed to sustainability and pioneering the conversion of household and commercial waste into aviation biofuel. This also reduces the footprint of waste disposal and helps BA realize their goal of 25% more fuel-efficient planes this decade and 50% fewer carbon emissions by 2050. Additionally, megacities will see the expansion of urban area mobility (UAM) thanks to vertical take-off and landing (VTOLs) aircraft and electronic planes, functioning as taxis, making rapid commutes within and between cities. Using urban vertical flight to commute to work sounds pretty cool, European regulation entities are already building the framework.
- The space race is back on! But where are we going? The Artemis program is set to land on Mars, eventually, with private sector companies assisting NASA with getting back to the moon by 2024. We’ll see unmanned payloads land on the moon’s surface as early as next year. But what happens as private companies continue to innovate and create their own timelines and objectives? It’s about to get a lot busier up there, and space travel is about to be front and center in our culture once more. One thing is for sure, we’ll make history again by putting the first woman on the moon, and we’re long overdue.
- I’m not loyal to a brand—I’m loyal to loyalty. The proliferation of the brands does not seem to be stopping. With a quick search on Skift.com you can read breakdowns of the hundreds of major hotel brands out there, like they have done here for OYO Hotels and Rooms. But the consumer isn’t keeping track of this. Heck, the industry is barely keeping track of this. If you have a credit card with a hotel chain or airline carrier, chances are the largest logo on the card is now the loyalty logo, or the brand logo has been incorporated into the loyalty logo. As hotel supply networks grow, the goal is to create as many of these loyal relationships as possible. Remember your guest is loyal to a tailored end-to-end experience that meets their individual needs, AKA your reciprocated loyalty, not the same bed, breakfast and bath amenities wherever they stay.
*Bonus Prediction – A rooftop bar: Build it and they will come. I survey a lot of hotels during a given year and also visit with a lot of their competition. The one thing I always see driving business, all hours of day, all days of week, no matter the market, are rooftop bars (especially if they can convert with the weather into more intimate settings). I know it sounds obvious but mild weather is becoming more of a rarity and people want to enjoy it whenever and however they can, especially on vacation or after a long day in a meeting. Rooftops garner premium prices, exclusivity, local traffic and create unlimited social media opportunity. If you have underutilized space, build it and build it right. Bigger cities, taller buildings and more unique hotel spaces are only going to strengthen rooftop bar potential.
See you on a rooftop soon. Cheers!
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