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What’s the Future of Travel?

It’s truly incredible to consider that just a few hundred years ago, it would take a ship 2-3 months to travel from Europe to New York City.

Today, that same trip takes less than 8 hours to complete. (Not counting all the time wasted checking and getting through the 800 layers of TSA security, of course)

The last 10 years has given rise to hundreds of amazing travel blogs, with the authors documenting their travels so that people can find inspiration for their travels or just live vicariously through their favorite blogger.

The real exciting question here is what will that trip be like 100 years from now? Will it be reduced to minutes? Seconds? Or will technology have evolved to a level of complexity that we can’t even explain or begin to understand?

To go broad in this way of thinking, we wanted to learn more about the where the travel industry as a whole is headed so we asked the question:

What’s the future of travel?

Here’s what we learned….

Travis Katz, Co-founder & CEO of Trip.com

“The future of travel and how we plan it is already starting to change thanks to new technology. Trip.com was the first travel planning app/website to introduce predictive context aware technology to help reduce the amount of manual searching travelers need to do. We want travelers to spend time having amazing experiences, not searching for them on a tiny bright screen. The Trip.com is actually able to predict what you are looking for, so you don’t have to search at all, leveraging data from millions of queries to help identify the right things to do at the exactly the right time.

As we look to the future, this will continue to grow as use algorithms that takes millions of data points, including what things people search most at different times of day, individual tribe preference, whether the user is local or a visitor, and even how far they might typically travel for different things in different locations around the world are used to push the information directly to the user’s phone/device. Whether going for a coffee, planning a nice dinner or thinking about where to go for a weekend getaway, travel apps will offer real time suggestions practically eliminating the need to do any manual searching.”


Dagmar Irrig, Content Marketing Manager for GoEuro

“The travel industry is rapidly changing with the increased use of mobile technology. As travel technology develops so are our expectations. People no longer rely on travel guide books, but rather use their smartphone to plan on the go. Girls are now traveling alone to places far and wide with female solo travel on the rise.

Tickets are no longer printed and booked months in advance, but rather mobile tickets are saved in your user profile on your favorite app. In the upcoming years, travelers will be able to compare and book all trains, buses, and flights all in one search. The industry is evolving so that travel is becoming more individualized and digital so that you can focus on your adventures and less on planning.”


Anne Biging, CEO & Founder of Healing Hotels of the World

“I am certain that in the next 10-15 years, travelers will continue to seek more profound experiences when they take the time and energy and spend money on travel. We firmly believe that the interest in a well-balanced body, mind and spirit will move travelers to find locations that will accommodate this need.

Americans, specifically, are just beginning to learn about the opportunities that exist to experience a hotel that provides a holistic approach to achieving this balance. These kinds of properties offer supervised programs incorporating excellent and delicious organic food, movement, yoga, meditation, massage, and much more in ecologically sound environments, built in concert with nature (many of these properties have some kind of medical staff available).”


Don Walker, Co-Founder & Co-President, WMPH Vacations & iCruise.com

“Research shows 2017 will be the first year that Millennials (Age 22 to 42) will outspend Baby Boomers. This is a generation that has grown up travelling extensively (usually with Mom and Dad footing the bill!). They are not necessarily tech-savvy but are certainly tech-dependent. They appreciate the help of someone they trust to navigate the options. Unique experiences are paramount to their travel decisions and immersion into the local destination is important to them. Travel Agents who are willing to communicate a bit differently will thrive and vendors (cruise lines and tour companies) that cater to unique experiences will reap the rewards. Travel is not a luxury item for this generation. It is a necessity.”


Corinne McDermott, Founder of HaveBabyWillTravel.com

“Although the internet and social media have revolutionized how we plan and book travel, families with young children still seek first-person advice and expert recommendations. Social media is making that easier and 10 years from now it will be commonplace. Destinations and accommodations are becoming more accessible and family-friendly, but viral stories about nightmare flights and travel with children continue to make marketing to the masses a challenge.

But now it’s understood that traveling with kids is more than just theme parks or camping, and over the next 10-15 years I expect to see options that combine the vacation benefits of travel–like relaxation and fun–with the educational benefits of exploring history and culture. Accommodations will also evolve to include more choices that are better suited for extended families or multi-family stays, as people look to maximize quality time together and want the conveniences of home without the work.”


Uf Tukel, Co-Founder & Co-President, WMPH Vacations & iCruise.com

“From traveling an extensive amount over the past 20-30 years and participating in many travel-themed industry workshops, I think 15 years from now we will see technology playing a much bigger role in travel planning and actual travel experience. Websites, computers and smartphones will be far more advanced making travel planning much easier. With virtual reality, Siri-type speech recognition, and artificial intelligence robots available, vacations will become far more customized and personalized for each individual. Answers to the most complex travel requests will be answered immediately.

The need for room keys and boarding passes will be eliminated; technology like Princess Cruises’ Ocean Medallions, Disney Magic Bands, facial recognition, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers will make credit cards and ids obsolete. And while on vacation, local tour guides will connect via your smart phones, using geolocation services to describe every building or piece of art you see.”


Greg Geronemus, Co-CEO of smarTours

“Over the next 10-15 years, we will see a dramatic shift in travel patterns away from the Caribbean and Mexico and towards exotic international destinations. Not only are Americans simply more curious about the rest of the world, from Africa to Asia to South America, but as the world becomes smaller, increasingly affordable international airfare will help make this possible.”


Joost Schreve, Co-founder & CEO of kimkim

“Today’s travelers have tons of information about where to go and what to see, but busy families and professionals don’t have the free time available to sort through all the noise online. Over the next 10 to 15 years, we expect to see the pendulum swinging back in the direction of localized travel expertise. Travelers we work with put a high value on their spare time and prefer to have an expert deal with tedious logistics like booking trains and airport transfers. They’re interested in maximizing their vacation time and want an expert who knows which boutique hotels are close to everything they want to see. The rise of travelers getting off the beaten path and heading to destinations like Colombia, Croatia and Iceland combined with the increased desire for customized trips that truly suit them is adding even more momentum to the local expert trend.”


Amir Kalmar, CMO for Tourico Holidays

“Travel will change in several different capacities over the next few decades. Growth in low cost carriers will lower prices and consequently open new destinations around the world. Secondly, substantial growth in Chinese travelers will lead to a massive influx in hotel room demand. Travelers will also start to utilize virtual reality – allowing consumers to view destinations and experience them before actually traveling there. And, finally, business-to-business companies and travel agents will make a comeback, as people look for specialists, expert advice, and specific services.”


Kali Kucera, President & Chief Geographer at Andes Transit

“Land transportation in emerging countries are already outpacing airlines in providing quantity and quality of travel. Long-distance buses are no longer the stereotypical jalopies and have professional staff and first class service, including in several places complimentary wine and cheese, for a fraction of what you would pay for airfare. In an age where fossil fuels are running out, buses are also more able to easily convert to alternative fuels and provide more safety and reliability in doing so than an airplane. Younger people are especially opting for bus travel over air for ethical reasons (anti-corporation, revolt against airlines, etc.) and they are deciding that seeing the country rather than flying over it is worth their time and much lower expense.”


Tim Tuttle, CEO of MindMeld

“There’s no denying that voice-enabled devices were a breakout hit with consumers in 2016. For many companies looking forward, the market opportunity represents a land grab as large and important as when Apple first opened the iOS App Store in 2008 — maybe larger.

Over the next decade voice will become a feature in every application and on every device where it might prove useful. It is not hard to envision some applications where a voice-first experience would be ideal. Speaking in natural language is three to four times faster than typing, so the addition of voice to consumer devices could feel like a more natural expression than manual input. Consumers will be able to book flights, hotels, cars and activities using natural language. Booking will be faster and more direct, without unrelated ads for additional services beyond what was requested. The experience of natural language processing in travel will feel more like a traditional travel agent experience than a digital booking.”


Alan Muskat, CEO of No Taste Like Home

“Travel is coming home. It’s getting down to earth, back to nature. Not just walking through nature but really engaging with it. Less site-seeing and more site-tasting.

I’m talking about foraging: gathering wild food. Surprisingly safe and easy, foraging is a multigenerational tradition in much of the world. Foraging is DIY, local, sustainable, healthy, affordable (as in free), and FUN. And for all these reasons, it’s making a comeback. We specialize in foraging, and in the past five years, our business has quadrupled.

People are homesick. They want home-cooking.” They don’t just want farm-to-table, they want forage-to-table, and they want to do it themselves. They want to experience travel the way our nomadic ancestors did.

Foraging turns The Earth, wherever you are, back into home. In ten years, we won’t be saying “we’re not of the woods yet.” We’ll say we’re not yet back in.”


Elena Shkarubo, CEO & Founder of MeetnGreetMe

“World travel and tourism market has already reached $ 7.17 trillion. 1/5 of travel industry is already affected by peer-to-peer services.

All this takes place under increasing value of time and changing demands of travelers. It’s no longer enough to book hotel or a flight. From feeling safe and welcome to getting authentic experiences and individualised adventure, travelers want to make sure they will reach their travel goals while keeping their life-time balance.

Recognising these changes hospitality businesses started to look for new ways to elevate their customers’ experience. Travel related businesses consider concierge services as a guarantee of customers’ great experience and additional income source. Corporate sector seeks to provide their key stakeholders with additional value which will contribute to their businesses’ bottom line.

Due to its scalability, flexibility and accumulated local expertise MeetnGreetMe aims to deliver high quality personalized on-demand support locally, around the word. MeetnGreetMe.com is a platform for concierge services and personal assistance provided by local people to international travelers.”


Fergal Kelly, Chief Commercial Officer at Travelport Digital

“Travel will change in 3 key ways in the next 10 to 15 years. These 3 key change will be cognification of travel, streaming of travel and a shift to a subscription economy in travel. First, the travel industry will cognify on 2 axes, 1) travel suppliers will know their customers better-leveraging machine learning and AI 2) travellers will expect locations and destinations to interact with them intelligently to enrich their journey. Secondly, the industry will move from an offer retrieval to experience streaming whereby travel consumption is based on a streaming of information and engagement. Thirdly business models associated with travel will fundamentally shift from purchase to subscriptions, from products to experiences based on lifestyle, aspirations and the search for authenticity.”


Russell Markel, Founder, President & Captain of Outer Shores Expeditions

“I see the next decade-plus of travel increasingly involve close collaborations with indigenous communities in order to provide authentic cultural experiences, while also supporting local training, economic development and cultural revitalization of these communities. This falls in line with an intensifying evolution we are seeing towards more meaningful conservation-based tourism in which tourism dollars and activities are contributing directly to local well-being. While we’ve taken the initiative to ensure Outer Shores Expeditions’ activities are sustainable, the sea change in the industry will come as travellers begin to increasingly demand that the companies they travel with are the “greenest” they can be, particularly as low carbon options become progressively more available, providing operators the ability to utilize electric, wind, solar, and fuel-cell power supplies. This will inevitably lead to ever-increasing value being placed on sustainability certifications from organizations such as Green Tourism to provide travellers with peace-of-mind.”


Denis Bulichenko, CEO & Founder of Routes Software S.R.L

“I strongly believe that in the near future Augmented Reality will take over standard navigation and informational interfaces. Maps and long text descriptions will be used for offline destination research only (until Virtual Reality will take over this as well). Real world information placement is so much more convenient than making users to apply bird view to their current location view transition in their minds. Computers are so much better at handling 3D transitions!

For example, we have a simple app called PeakVisor which answers one of many questions travelers might have – What that mountain is? All they need is to point their camera at mountains and see the names in Augmented Reality screen view. Compare that to orienteering kind of challenge when you deal with a map.

That’s why the AR is the future of travel.”


Reuel Mateo, Director of Marketing & Sales for Genesis Travel Network

“Over the past 20 years, the travel industry has transformed dramatically. Gone are the days of simply going to-and-from locations. Now, flights are just as much an experience as the destination. Any airline can provide you transportation but, does your flight come with Michelin Star-worthy meals, accompanied with award winning wine pairings?

Many airlines have been altering their passenger experience ranging from intentional on-board customer service, to technological accommodations. In the next ten years, I expect the industry to make drastic changes in their air craft format. The importance will shift from bringing the most passengers to a specific destination, to providing a unique travel experience that allows airlines to stand out in this saturated market. The common response to the question how was your flight will soon be changed from, “it was alright” to “you NEED to fly with this airline”.”


About the author

Nick Hastreiter

I write about the future of business. I approach this by interviewing founders, CEO's, and other game changers to share their vision for the future of their industry.

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