Remember ‘Back to the Future Day’ on October 21, 2015? Almost everyone was disappointed that we weren’t getting around on hoverboards. Then again, the movie did predict we’d still be using fax machines in 2015. So with a bit of skepticism, let’s dwell into the innovations unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas; the mecca of tricked out toys, and how these gadgets are predicted to shape travel in the coming years.
#1 The Virtual Tour Gets an Upgrade
Past: A vacation rental was only as good as a big hotel brand name. Luxury travel was all about the Hiltons and Hyatts.
Present: Travel agencies are harnessing the power of social media, which greatly influences (we prefer ‘inspires’) customers’ vacation plans. Travel isn’t just a reward, it’s a lifestyle with its own hashtag.
Future: Getting a teaser of your destination through Google Cardboard and Streetview. Think of a 360-degree experience while browsing through holiday plans, instead of scrolling through pictures. We’re already seeing this (literally), but soon hotel guests will be able to make additional requests according to the layout plans. Trust us, guests do have strange requests.
#2 Your Phone, Your Travel Agent
Past: The only time your phone and travel came together was when you accidentally had your data roaming running while on vacation. Whoops!
Present: The travel industry is at its mobile-driven peak. Websites are catering to the large number of mobile users and your next holiday can be booked over lunch hour.
Future: Siri meets Skyscanner meets Amazon’s Echo system. Booking your flight or hotel might be as easy as saying “Find me a villa in Seminyak for the 22nd”. And in time, more filters for personalised search results such as “Find me a villa in Seminyak for under USD100 per person on the 22nd”. Just saying.
#3 Your Fridge Knows Things. Personal Things
Past: Kitchen appliences were / are inanimate objects designed with a sole purpose (including the toaster’s objective to burn your toast every morning).
Present: Samsung designed the Family Hub refrigerator this year; a really marvelous creation with built-in cameras so you can look inside for snacks through your home and a WiFi-enabled LED touchscreen. And this relates to travel because…
Future: You may never need to turn your computer on to book and pay for anything. Imagine demanding all your appliances around to get your travels in order. Craving dim sum but you’ve only got Nutella? Your oven knows what to do. Really, it’s all in the cards, apparently.
#4 Giving Someone the ‘Once Over’ at the Airport
Past: Arriving two hours early to the airport before web check-in was available.
Present: Rayani Air under government scrutiny for handing out hand-written boarding passes.
Future: Airport staff rocking next generation Google Glass, alerted of passengers’ needs just by looking at them. Did you or did you not reserve an in-flight meal? One look tells all.
#5 Driver-less Drones to Get You to Your Villa
Past: Hailing a cab to get to your hotel, and a language miscommunication with your driver 9/10 times.
Present: VIP check through service arranged by your villa, where staff greet you the moment you step off the plane. Never mind that other passengers may think you’re a criminal. You’re a star.
Future: Chinese company Ehang showcased the world’s first passenger-carrying drone at the CES. No pilot necessary, you simply enter your destination into the GPS and off you go. Keyed in Kamalaya instead of Katamama? Hit the emergency button and the drone will hover in the air while waiting for help. Don’t forget to have your fridge email you the right check-in details.