By Anne Majumdar05 Jan 2017OTAs versus traditional agents – it’s a battle that has dominated the industry for decades. But a range of tech trend innovations are set to stir the pot in 2017. The travel landscape is no longer as clear-cut as it once was – thanks to new technology and the changing desires of consumers, the lines have blurred and the field has shifted. So, with the industry still a little bleary-eyed from New Year’s shenanigans, it’s timely to ask what 2017 will look like. Here we sum up four major trends that will significantly impact the industry over the course of the next year. 1. CHATBOTS The way we communicate with each other continues to evolve. Think chatbots powered by artificial intelligence, live chat, messaging apps, the upward trajectory of platforms like Snapchat. Face to face and telephone contact is no longer the norm, but then neither is staring at a screen clicking on a virtual basket. It seems that we still want conversations, but without actually talking to anyone. Go figure. As we constantly pushing the boundaries, finding new ways to connect and the potential for the world of travel is going to be immense. 2. VIRTUAL REALITY More and more travel companies are harnessing the power of virtual and augmented reality as the technology improves – no longer clunky and pixelated, and certain to only improve as time goes by. Organisations like Contiki, Flight Centre, Etihad Airways, Carnival Cruise Lines, Shangri-La Hotels and Tourism Australia have already invested heavily in the technology, with others bound to follow suit. Expect VR headsets to become commonplace in agencies, allowing customers to try before they buy in a way that’s never been possible before. 3. THE INTERNET OF THINGS Once, the term internet referred to a network accessible via a computer, but that’s no longer the case. Now, there’s an Internet of Things (IoT) which exists in our physical world connecting objects and devices wherever we go. Analysts predict that there will be tens of billions of connected devices in just a few years. So, what does it mean for the travel industry? Big things. Imagine being able to perfectly customise a traveller’s stay at a hotel, or navigate them through onerous airport procedures in a jiffy. 4. WORLDS COLLIDE Gradually, we’ve seen the once distinct digital and physical worlds edge closer together, even overlapping at times. Think Flight Centre’s blended model, or even people that research a trip online only to come into a store to seal the deal in person. The next year will see this merging of the two continue and become increasingly innovative, driven by the pervasiveness of mobile technology in our day to day lives. Embrace it now and you’ll be on your way to more bookings from more sources. Are you excited by what 2017 holds in store for the world of travel? Other stories you may like TRENDING NOW: Millions of Aussies are planning a Canadian getaway GOODBYE PASSPORTS: Sydney Airport trials couch-to-gate facial recognition Which is Australia’s most attractive airline to work for: Qantas or Virgin?