Tourism is and has always been a thriving business. According to the International Air Transport Association, the exact figure is 2.8 billion in a year, and this goes for flyers alone. This means that the number is much bigger, considering that tourists use all means of travel-railroad traveling and cruises are also a popular choice.

With these figures, it’s safe to say that new technologies and innovations aiming to make a tourist’s life easier emerge constantly. From bookings to robotics and VR, we are here to present the trends that should be expected in 2019.

Oh, and we’ve got a couple of classics as well. Namely Social Media Marketing and email marketing software, like Moosend.

Virtual Reality

It won’t be too long before tourists give up on researching foreign countries that they’d like to visit and risk being disappointed as soon as they set foot on the location of their choice.

Virtual reality is a growing trend amongst most businesses nowadays. According to Statista’s research, the market size of VR is expected to reach 19 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. Therefore, it’s only logical that it would be used in the tourism industry.

VR allows its users to take a 360 tour of their preferred destination, without ever leaving the comfort of their own home. The benefit of that is that they get to decide if they would like to travel to said destination and eliminates the possibility of them being disappointed once they set foot in that foreign country.

Furthermore, hotels can create virtual tours that will be showcasing their facilities, giving the potential guest an interactive experience whole showcasing anything their facilities have to offer-from the spas to their bars.

So, with countries like France and Singapore incorporating VR in their touristic scheme and with 51% of travelers finding the concept of VR to be the most interesting one when it comes to tourism, it’s safe to say that this specific innovation will skyrocket in 2019 and in the years to come.

Augmented Reality

Another growing trend is that of Augmented Reality. Statista’s graph below shows the market size of AR and the heights it’s expected to reach.

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Augmented reality differs from virtual reality in one key aspect: it uses the person’s surroundings and utilizes them overlaying information and, ultimately, offering a different and unique experience. The most prominent example of AR is the popular app Pokémon Go.

Using AR technology, the tourist will be able to stop looking for maps and information here and there, like it has always been. Instead, AR will enable them to just point at the object they’re interested to know more about, and the information will pop up. This goes for hotel rooms, means of transportation, even AR tours of various sights around the world.

AR has been proven to be the more popular option between AR and VR, seeing as it’s more cost-effective, sustainable and all it takes for the user-in our case, tourist-to experience it, is an app and a smartphone.

Artificial Intelligence

A broad concept and difficult to define, artificial intelligence (AI) is being used more and more throughout the years. As the graph below indicates, voice assistants-one of the many aspects of AI-is widely used.

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This graph is for US citizens alone. It would be safe to say that the number is, on an international scale, quite larger.

Essentially, AI refers to the ability of machines to make “intelligent” and “educated” decisions that occur by the user’s interaction with the machine and the analysis of the data that occur.

Now, while the concept of AI is fairly old, the technology is relatively new and the travel industry is more than ready to implement it in order to help tourists and guests.

Chatbots, for example, are a form of AI and big touristic companies, such as Expedia, have already taken advantage of the new technology. By implementing AI, such companies can still offer customer service, even when their representatives are not available, thus proving to be a cost-effective solution for the company.

Another example of AI implementation that will reach the traveling industry in 2019 would be the use of digital assistants. The statistics show that 55% of users feel more comfortable giving voice commands instead of typing, amongst other things. And with the vast majority of the users being millennials, which also happens to be the demographic that starts being more prominent in the travel industry, this choice is practically a no-brainer.

Facial Recognition

Here’s yet another industry that aims to personalize as much as possible.

Facial recognition is not a new concept. In fact, the idea was conceived in the 1960s. Since then, the software has come a long way and today, it can be used in a lot of industries, one of them being, of course, tourism.

Facial recognition can be of great benefit to a tourist, as it can do a lot more than simply enable the hotel staff to recognize the guest.

By providing more information than just reservation details, tourists will be able to get tailor-made services, be greeted by the staff by name-which is always friendlier and more personal.

And this goes beyond just hotel bookings.

Imagine a tour where the guide could call the traveler by name and could provide specific information that fit the traveler’s needs and individual interests.

Another benefit of facial recognition is the security it can provide. The room, the spa treatments, even the flight details will be accessible only by the booker, thus preventing the chance of identity theft.

Wearables

Wearable devices have started, slowly but surely, to take over. Small, compact and easy to use, they go way beyond fitness trackers, with the Smartwatch being the most popular.

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Again, in the spirit of personalization, more and more industries implement wearables. And tourism couldn’t be an exception.

Wearable technology could drive more revenue and make the traveler’s experience a lot easier and more fun. Take EasyJet for example: the company has created an app for AppleWatch, which gives the flyer the opportunity to store all required data and use them through the app.

But cruises are not that far behind, as wearables have found their place there as well. Carnival’s “Ocean Medallion” enables the guest to handle transactions and more, while on board.

Internet of Things (IoT)

This concept is a little more complex. Internet of Things is basically any device connected to the internet, but this is too broad a definition.

In our case, we are referring to devices that interact with each other, giving the user a unique experience, especially the traveler, seeing as the tourism sector could benefit greatly from this technology.

Again, this kind of technology aims to personalize the experience. Take Starwood, one of the leading companies in the tourism sector, for example.

Starwood has implemented mobile keys software, making room cards or keys unnecessary. What is more, through that app, guests are enabled to “lose track of time”, as they can stroll about in their destination of choice and be notified about their room. So, there is no need to wait in endless lines, either.

After that, the guest’s preferences are collected through that app. This can offer a fantastic experience, both at the resort and when it comes to post-departure services, as all data is stored and used to offer a tailor-made second booking that would meet the guest’s every need.

Of course, IoT goes beyond the actual stay at the resort of preference. We already mentioned that devices interact with one another.

This means that tourists will be able to use IoT technology to make the best of their location, as this will, eventually, enable devices to send and gather data and educate travelers on matters that have to do with anything the location has to offer, from events to public transportation schedules.

We’ve more or less covered the more tech-savvy parts. But this article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two traditional ways all businesses-and of course the tourism industry-use.

Social Media

Though it may not be a technology trend per se, social media is a staple when it comes to most businesses, as it has revolutionized the way people look up various things.

Of course, travel destinations couldn’t have been an exception and the industry seems to adapt quite quickly, causing the so-called “Instagram Effect” to influence it.

EasyJet, for example, once more leads in that aspect, as the aviation company launched a feature that enables potential customers to use Instagram photos to search for destinations. This feature, Look and Book, will identify the destination and provide flight information, thus driving revenue based on the spontaneity of the user.

Email marketing

The tourism industry is undoubtedly one of the few ones that can gather almost all data from one user, just for one reservation or purchase. And it seems that all parts of the industry are ready to put that data into good use.

Take a look at TripAdvisor’s strategy, which has been successful for years. Strong and small subject lines is only one of the things TripAdvisor implements. Here’s an example:

By letting me know that I can go to a fantastic restaurant at an exotic destination and use that on the most addictive social media platform yet, is a huge plus.

By giving me fantastic content to match, they almost sold me on the idea of traveling somewhere.

Their email newsletters are made with all the basic principles of good email marketing in mind: CTAs that are original but not complicated, beautiful design that doesn’t confuse the recipient and pictures that I would’ve loved to have in my phone.

In conclusion

The trends we mentioned above have one thing in common: they aim to give a more vivid traveling experience and enable the user to personalize that experience.

They also aim to provide solutions and new ideas to an ever-changing industry that slowly but surely adapts to the new reality, searching for more cost-effective solutions that will please even the most difficult guest and reach the KPIs they’ve set for the season.

Do you think that there are more solutions that we failed to mention?

Which one of the aforementioned innovations would you use next time you travel?

Please go ahead and tell us in the comments.