Tourism guide firms, holiday package sellers and public tourist departments should look out as much as providers of shopping experience for visitors. Tourists and travellers are finding their own ways to reach the information and services they seek when abroad.
A ‘From Chaos to Collaboration‘ research study, commissioned by IT solutions provider Amadeus, finds augmented reality, gamification, intelligent passenger records, and biometrics are set to drive change in the next decade, heralding a new era in travel.
Among its key findings, there are
1) The next generation of experience: Travel is increasingly about depth rather than breadth of experience. Technologies such as augmented reality and smart mobile devices will transform the travel experience.
2) Automatic transit: Chips, biometrics, long range fingerprinting and near field communications (NFC) can be deployed in a more integrated way to fast-forward how people move around.
3) Payment with memory: All data on payments made before and during a trip will be integrated.
4) Intelligent recommendation: As technologies make it easier for people to tag and review all aspects of travel experiences, the prospect of personal travel guides and mobile tour representatives will give travellers the tools they need to enrich their experience.
5) Taking the stress out of travel: Intelligent luggage tags and tickets will give greater reassurance.
According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2011 to a total 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010 that was characterised by a stalled global economic recovery, major political changes in the Middle East and North Africa and natural disasters in Japan. By region, Europe (+6%) was the best performer, while by subregion South-America (+10%) topped the ranking.
UNWTO forecasts international tourism to continue growing in 2012 although at a slower rate. Arrivals are expected to increase by 3% to 4%, reaching the historic one billion mark by the end of the year. Yet, how much they will use the traditional business structures remains to be see.