We’re all connected, but not in some hippy spiritual way. No, we’re all connected via the Internet with our smartphones, tablets and computers, and this connectedness is changing travel in a REAL way.
Even if you’ve never heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) before, you’ve most definitely experienced some aspect of it (you should also read this article on how it relates to Travel Agents).
For instance, using Google Maps on your phone to find your hotel is an example of the IoT in use. So is receiving an SMS upon touching down at an airport which tells you which baggage carousel (hopefully) contains your bag.
But the IoT is so much more than this, and you’re going to be hearing a lot about this emerging technology over the next few years, especially those of us who work in the travel industry. In fact, you’re not going to be able to escape it, because the industry is currently the number one spender on this new tech, with a reported $128.9 million spent on IoT projects in 2015.
By 2020, IoT connected devices are expected to exceed 26 billion.
Briefly summed up, the IoT is the network of physical devices connected to each other via the Internet. It’s that interplay between the physical and digital world and enables the seamless and instant transfer of information between travellers and travel companies.
“[The IoT] can help passengers navigate their surroundings, identify themselves at check-in, lounge or boarding areas or track objects such as baggage and cargo.”
Tim Graham, technology innovation and development manager at Virgin Atlantic.
Indeed, many travel and hospitality brands are already experimenting with the IoT to put the technology to work for their customers, because it has the power to dramatically improve the passenger experience and reduce operating costs.
Here are three examples of travel companies doing just that.
1. Emotion detecting seats
Personalising the travel experience is one way the major players in travel are looking to amp up their game. One way the industry is looking to make flying more comfortable is through a new type of seat embedded with sensors to monitor the emotional states of passengers.
Developed by a group of Dutch students at the Delft University of Technology in partnership with KLM, these new seats will detect a passenger’s heart rate via in-seat sensors and send this information to an app called FlightBeat. This information is then presented in a colour-coded seat map which shows which passengers are feeling nervous and could use a little extra attention.
2. Un-loseable bags
The IoT is making it possible to track the whereabouts of our bags through an app on our smartphones, potentially spelling the end of lost bags forever. But even more exciting is the possibility for your bags to come straight to you – well, kind of. GE Aviation is working on a system where bags sense when you enter the luggage area and then selects the carousel closer to you for your bag delivery.
These bag sensors will basically help manage and travel pain points across your journey to make your travel experience much better.
3. Smarter hotels and rooms
Smart Hotels already allow travellers to check in, control room temperature, and order meals from their phones. But the IoT is taking this convenience to the next level. In the near future, the rooms temperature and lights in your room will automatically adjust as soon as you enter the hotel lobby – sensed by your GPS movements. When you finally reach your room, you won’t even have to look for their keycard as the door will automatically open for you.
On the business front, the IoT will also be savings hotels a lot of money. For example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts have started using a system to save energy in their rooms by automatically adjusting energy-efficient LED lighting depending on the amount of natural light seeping into the room.
How do you think the IoT will continue to shape the travel industry? Let us know in the comments below.
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