Last week our Media Team headed to the 2013 World Travel Market. The Travel Technology Show, held at London’s ExCeL centre, showcased how technology and innovation is changing the tourism industry and what we can expect to see over the next few years.
Both consumer and business orientated apps were the biggest talking point in this year’s show. It seems that portable technology for both sides of the hospitality sector is key to the tourism industry in the future.
A number of software organisations are developing customisable booking apps for the major hotel chains. These apps would allow consumers to tailor a room to suit their needs. Want a TV in your room but no kettle? Tell the app before you arrive and the hotel will have it all sorted when you get there.
Fancy turning the air-con on in your room for when you return? Developers are offing apps that act as a universal remote for your hotel room. Like many home devices, your room could be controlled via smartphone or tablet, allowing you access to anything from the Air-Con to TV to the minibar.
The idea is that you’re given a unique access code to tie your devices in to the room management system. From that you can wirelessly set how your room works. As it’s connected over WiFi you could turn the heating on as you wander home at night- so the room’s nice and toasty for your return.
App based security was also high on the list. With a hotel smart-linked to your tablet, rooms can be monitored from a distance. You can tell if anyone is accessing your room without permission or how long they’ve been in for. It’s also a handy safety feature for those parents or carers wanting to monitor their children staying in separate rooms.
The hotels are also getting on the side of apps and management software. Companies such as Guestline are creating contained applications to help with the management of hotels through one cross-platform programme. Procedures like taking food orders from a customer’s room have been streamlined and simplified through the app so the process is made quicker and more efficient.
Interactive tours are no new thing to the travel market but we were particularly drawn to the rather innovative travel tour product from the French company Sycamore. We were given a demonstration of a clever app than can scan special maps to give both an audio and video guide to a location. The app uses a similar premise to QR code scanning with a phone camera. The phone scans a section of the map and can recount an audio package or amazingly make the map come alive, and show a video via the phone on the map.
Health and beauty
Health and Beauty is a booming sector for tourism and we saw a number of companies offering age old techniques adapted with technology. Teeth whitening devices and automated massage machines were popular but the ‘Automated Hand Acupuncture Machine’ from Korea caught our eye. The desktop device uses thousand year old Chinese techniques to relieve stress and energy from the body via the hands. Unlike traditional acupuncture the needles don’t break the skin, instead pressure is placed from thousands of applicators all over the hand to create a similar sensation.
In Flight streaming
High end airlines such as Emirates are looking at the concept of introducing ‘live’ streaming to their long haul jets. The idea behind it is to stop people delaying flights because of big sporting events. The feeds would be broadcast to the jest in near-live stream time to the in cabin entertainment systems… Queue world cup celebrations at 30,000 feet.