The last year was really fantastic for the travel industry, specifically the tech side.
Funding reached an all-time high with deals for travel tech start-ups reaching $5.2billion; in fact between 2010 and 2015, one of the most prominent travel tech companies – AirBnB – managed to raise $2.3 billion in funding.
With such significant amounts of money being invested in the sector, we're expecting a lot from travel tech in 2016. We've come across a number of reports on what travellers and travel companies can expect from tech in the coming 12 months, so here's our list of the most widely anticipated tech trends of the future:
Travellers may never again experience the panic of forgetting a passport if this trend takes off. Biometric passports are already used in Australia, but completely cloud-stored passports are the next step.
Individual information such as biometric data and a digital photo will be stored in the cloud passport, allowing travellers to pass through border control without the need for a physical passport.
2015 may well have been the year of the selfie-stick, but 2016 looks to be the year of the drone when it comes to both amateur and professional travel photography.
Drones are becoming more commercially available and are now so popular the Federal Aviation Administration has had to create special licenses for owners. As a result, we expect to see more drones in use by travellers and travel companies looking to capture unique and breath-taking aerial shots.
Big data may not be the first thing people think of when considering the travel industry, but it certainly plays a significant role and will continue to do so in 2016.
In fact, it's going to help improve the travel industry by allowing operators create a more personalised and tailored experience for travellers. Hotels will be able to analyse data regarding customers and create a stay based on their preferences. Travel businesses that create whole holiday packages will also be able to recommend activities and specific restaurants to customers.
Virtual reality (VR)
This is probably the biggest piece of tech news for the coming year. 2016 will see the long-anticipated release of the Oculus Rift headset, alongside many other VR devices.
The immersive experiences created by these headsets can be adopted by the travel industry, with the hotel chain Marriott already adopting the tech. Building on the concept of virtual travel, the technology allows those unable to travel to experience brave new worlds and giving others a taster experience of certain places prior to booking.
Virtual travel assistance
Some travel brands are taking the 'virtual' concept even further and are creating virtual travel assistants to help with the planning process.
Hipmunk is one example of a virtual assistant currently available, but more are due to crop up we're sure. These assistants can find the best airfare, hotels and bargain packages with the click of a button – doing all the hard work for those looking to take a break.
We're keen to see how these trends fare in the coming months, and also what other technology is adopted by the travel industry in 2016.