It is easy to forget how much our lives have changed as a result of technology – consumer technology in particular. In fact, we are surrounded by so much of it that it is often taken for granted. The tasks we perform on a daily basis have become faster, simpler and more accessible; and much of what we do is virtually unrecognisable compared with just a few years back.
The world of travel is no different, and the technology used within this industry has made our global village even smaller. Today, many of us are able to go on holidays to destinations we would have never dreamt of a couple of generations ago. And as travel opportunities become more accessible, this has affected the way we live our lives.
Clearly, the introduction of the Internet put travel planning firmly into the hands of the traveller. Today, anyone with Internet connection is able to take responsibility for their own travel and avoid the 'middleman'. As well as being able to book everything from flights and accommodation to car rentals online, travellers are also able to look at reviews, compare prices and read recommendations. They might even be able to take a virtual tour of their hotel or city of choice – all within a matter of minutes.
The evolution of mobile technology (tablets and smartphones) has made the process of planning a break even easier. Travellers are able to research their dream destination all day every day, if they want to. Mobile devices are also on the 'don't leave home without' list along with money, tickets and passport. They allow holiday makers to stay in touch with people back home, browse the web and become more connected with their new surroundings through apps, social media and more.
By selecting the right apps, a smartphone or tablet goes from being something pretty useful to something absolutely essential. Travellers can choose games to keep children (and adults) entertained, and apps that manage money, make restaurant reservations, or identify local attractions. The ultimate aim of these apps is to enhance the holiday experience and contribute to travellers' itineraries.
As well as apps there are also wearables – technology that is worn on the body rather than carried. Although still relatively in its infancy for consumers, wearable technology allows travellers to search and find local businesses, get real-time directions and read tailored recommendations. These devices are part of a wider move towards increased personalisation in travel.
Imagine being able to book a trip – flights, transfers, accommodation and everything else that goes with it – with a single click. It won't be long before this one-step booking becomes mainstream. Using the travel history and preferences of an individual traveller, these systems will be able to make sure individual needs are met and custom offerings and deals created.