What do you see in the future of travel and tourism? Wired UK magazine recently asked some industry bigwigs their opinions on how we could potentially be planning our holidays with a modern twist.
Image courtesy of Christian Frei
Sci-fi travel company Virgin Galactic, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, plans to sell sub-orbital spaceflights to space tourists in the near future. President and CEO, George Whitesides, believes the imminent rise of space tourism will have a serious impact on everyday travel: ‘We will soon be able to space travel, which may open up high-speed intercontinental travel for the rest of us. [Virgin Galactic’s] vehicles will demonstrate the technologies needed to break out of the Mach 0.8 box that air travel has been stuck in’.
Mobile phones look set to increase the immediacy and ease of hotel booking for the average tourist though. ‘In Tokyo and Seoul, 30 per cent of bookings are on the day of arrival through the mobile phone’, describes Professor of Tourism at the Victoria University of Wellington, Ian Yeoman. ‘We point our phone at a hotel and use AR to view information and book on Expedia.’ Yeoman goes further and suggests an integrated technological experience with the human body is possible: ‘Next is soft singularity – internet contact lenses or auto-translation software will bring rapid change.’
The growth of social networking will also have a deep impact on how we choose our destinations. Sites such as Tripspotting, a site where users share their photographs in an online community, help people extend their social network to help them plan their trips. Cofounders, Aigerim Shorman and Shana Zheng, explain how sites like theirs are ‘allowing travellers to ask questions directly to local people’, where previously ‘that network has only been people you know.’
From air travel 2.0 to our growing use of mobile phones, travellers are expected to seek out a high-tech approach to travel while inversely desiring an authentically ‘real’ experience. ‘Extra value will be attached to “real” experiences, including space travel, even though they will be annotated by tools such as iPhone walking guides and Google glasses’, says Esther Dyson, a commercial space-travel investor. She proposes that ‘in a world of ubiquitous automation, I foresee a fancy hotel brochure advertising “human room service”.’
By Maria Sowter