As the world begins to open its borders to eager travellers many of the globe’s biggest travel companies have seen their share prices rocket. IAGs value rose by 3% and TUI’s shares also increased by 4% as a result of the news that travel restrictions in places in the world were to be lifted.
So what does this mean for business and how can it be capitalised on to ensure the Travel industry rises from the ashes like a vaccinated Phoenix post-Covid 19? The rise of value in these travel companies means the parallel growth of investment into Travel Technology, which presents a huge opportunity for the sector as a whole. The industry will have to adjust to the new demands that post-Covid presents such as the increased likelihood of holiday cancellations, socially distanced queuing at airports and more digital forms of booking trips abroad. However, as Israel has proven in the past and still proves today, with any problem comes an opportunity. Not only will the travel sector need technology to help rebuild itself after a year of paralysis, but new technologies will play a pivotal role in making sure that the travel industry doesn’t fall back into the dark abyss of 2020.
Yet, although last year saw the industry stagnate and seemingly cease to exist, it allowed travel tech companies to build their technologies, leading to newer trends and innovative ways for the industry to grow in the future. One of the latest trends that have come from the travel industry is the rise in robotics technology. Robots are now starting to become more common in hotels for concierge-like roles or helping to greet guests, whilst at airports, we are seeing automated luggage as people travel terminal to terminal without having to worry about holding anything. In Israel, this type of technology has been around for years with NUA Robotics creating a form of robotic luggage that not only follows but communicates with its owner.
Another area of the travel tech industry that has grown during the pandemic is contactless payments. What started as a convenience pre-Covid has now become an essential part of the travel industry, with travellers no longer feeling comfortable handling cash many companies are having to adapt their system to this new form of payment. It is not just contactless cards though that are making a breakthrough, Israel has created other forms of e-commerce payments that do not just require the generic tapping method that we see today. An example coming from Chromepay, a technology that enables merchants and travel businesses to receive payments via a unique QR code with users being able to seamlessly transfer money between each other.
On top of the robotics and contactless payments trends, the travel industry has adapted its technology to include chatbots in its online services. These AI-powered pieces of machinery provide customers with an online 24/7 service through travel websites, meaning that the drop in staff availability due to COVID doesn’t affect the customer service of the company. These chatbots are extremely useful in helping travellers to get answers about their holiday and responding to any queries that they may have about COVID policies, which are changing repeatedly. Botson, an AI-based system from Israel, not only includes chatbots but has also developed an engagement prediction engine that personalises travel content for customers. When the travel industry begins to fully open up in the next few months, do not be surprised in seeing more companies use technologies like Botson in providing both a chatbot and a more customisable service to their customers.
Although the world is still extremely cautious about the industry opening its doors to eager travellers across once more, there is a lot that the travel sector can look forward to. Any problems that might arise in the coming months will be tackled head-on by innovation and forward-thinking as we have seen in the past when the pandemic first hit. These types of technology with not only keep customers safe but on a macro scale will have a lasting impact on the survival of the industry as a whole.