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How the travel industry is preparing for digital turbulence

The travel industry has faced a wave of change over the past decade: technology has made it easier than ever for people to plan and book trips, and loyalty to a single airline or even travel agent is a thing of the past.
Caitlin Russell

Caitlin Russell

5 min read

MVP Factory is continuing our Insights Series by looking at the travel sector to see how businesses in the industry are utilising emerging technology in order to meet the high expectations of today’s connected travellers.

As the individual controls their travel experience now, airlines, hotels and service providers alike are all competing for the attention and money of travellers.

Technology is now increasingly being utilised by the travel industry to minimise costs, capture new customer’s attention and provide simple, yet highly personalised experiences for customers.

Travel before you buy

Holiday travellers are generally looking to purchase an experience when deciding on their next trip, so travel companies are increasingly choosing to entice them via experiences too.

Virtual Reality, augmented reality and 360 video are all being incorporated into the travel sector to create immersive experiences, in order to help customers “try before they buy”.

For example, Igloo-Village Zermatt is using virtual reality experiences as an option to attract new guests by allowing them to explore the snowy village and have a taste of what they might experience.

As people start to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of travel blogs, instagram photos, potentially false reviews and information overload; marketing via experience can be a way to cut through and attract new travellers.

Companies are also exploring ways on how to incorporate advances in Virtual Reality into their flight offering.

One example is the Australian airline, Qantas, who in partnership with Samsung, brought virtual reality to their First class cabin and lounges.

An industry first, their passengers had the chance to use a Qantas Cardboard device to land on Hamilton Island, dive the Great Barrier Reef and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge all without leaving the comfort of their seat.

Imagine spending some of your long haul flight experiencing a taste of your sunny beach holiday rather than the usual in-flight movie?

Google Flights for instance was an early adopter, seeing the potential of using AI to predict delays and being able to give out that information before airlines would usually have notified passengers.

Nowadays, other brands are using it to reach out to a new generation of travellers who are travelling more than ever, and are requiring technology powered solutions that make it simpler, smoother and faster than ever to do so.

Booking.com and Kayak.com use AI to power digital assistants, offering itinerary suggestions based on searches and similar bookings, sharing travel details via social channels and even managing bookings via voice commands or Whatsapp messages.

However, the digital travel assistant Voya.ai takes things a step further, using the latest advances in AI and NLP (Natural Language Processing) to enable business travellers to plan, book and manage trips all from one app.

Via chat, business travelers can plan and book their journey within seconds with a simple message. Voya combines personal service and artificial intelligence to quickly create hand-picked travel options, tailored to the needs of the traveler. Conscious that business travellers have different needs to most, Voya also offers invoicing management that can also be tailored to the traveller’s company needs.

Finally, in an age where travellers want increasingly unique travel experiences, personalisation has become a key pillar for improving customer experience. Utrip, an AI recommendation engine built for the travel sector, uses the traveler’s interests and budget to come up with tailored recommendations.

Giving Travellers more Control

Travellers are seeking to have a more active role in coordinating their travel experiences. IoT technology can be used in the travel industry to enable a higher degree of personalisation as well as to further automate business processes.

Franco-Dutch airline, KLM, has invested heavily in IOT projects in order to create seamless experiences for travellers.

For example, their “Spencer” robot to guide passengers through the terminal at Schiphol airport, with whom they have also invested in IoT mesh networking start-up Unagrid.

The airline has also partnered with device management company, FastTrack Company to offer the Eviate eTrack, a new tracking device that allows travellers to track their baggage via their smartphone during every step of their journey.

Using GSM technology, the Eviate eTrack can be placed in the owner’s suitcase and as well as allowing the bag to be tracked, it automatically sends the owner a message when the suitcase is opened, and another message when the suitcase arrives on the baggage carousel.


In an increasingly digital world, the travel industry, as many others, is constantly changing as new technology is designed and developed.

The future leaders in the industry are using emerging technology to help them meet the high expectations of today’s connected travellers, as well as to help them differentiate themselves from competitors.

In fact, the travel industry demonstrates that to become a leader of today means becoming a digital ready company, where you are both well placed for success now and positioned to adapt to future challenges.