“You built a time machine to the future?”
For pop culture movie buffs, Marty McFly’s question is perfectly prescient today, Back to the Future Day. On October 21,1985 (coincidentally two years to the day before Amadeus’s founding), aficionados began celebrating the 1985 sci-fi classic that chronicles the adventures of eccentric scientist Dr. (Doc) Emmett Brown and high schooler Marty, who gets “fast-forwarded” to the future in Doc’s DeLorean time machine. While many futuristic details in the flick have yet to come true, others have already materialized – including voice recognition, thumbprint technology and FaceTime-like communication.
In the world of travel technology, new innovations are also unfolding faster than a speeding DeLorean or self-driving Tesla! From booking to post-trip follow-up, here are five ways the traveler’s journey is moving at warp speed toward the future.
Book my flight, Alexa!
The FAANG technology providers – Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google – have set the gold standard for what a seamless, end-to-end customer experience looks like. Millennial travelers in particular will demand the same services from their travel providers. New airline standards like IATA ONE Order and NDC will bring huge changes to unite airlines and their partners, airport services, ground handlers and others, enabling them to provide five-star Amazon-type experiences. New, personalized processes will incorporate artificial intelligence and data-driven capabilities; travelers won’t need their mobile devices anymore to book a flight or check in – they will simply ask Alexa, Siri, Zoe, or another voice-enabled assistant to do it for them.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
A US Travel Association survey reports that nearly half of frequent business and leisure travelers would take at least three more trips each year if airport “frictions” (i.e. long lines and crowded airport terminals) could be reduced or eliminated. This February, Amadeus successfully implemented our biometric boarding solution at the San Jose International Airport in California. With this technology, biometric equipment “reads” the traveler’s facial profile. No more waiting in security, customs and border control lines, because Amadeus’ biometric technology clears the traveler to walk right onto the plane.
Flying taxis – better than the Batmobile?
Tesla and Google have already launched driverless cars, so what’s next? To stay in step with next-gen travelers on the ground, Porsche is teaming up with Boeing to assess demand for vertical take-off flying taxis that ferry people around cities and over gridlock traffic. The electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, or eVTOL, is just another step in the quest to make travel as friction-less as possible.
Wearable watches open cruise ship cabins
Cruise lines have gone digital with wearable devices, pendants and bracelets that let guests access their rooms, pay their bills, and order their favorite bottle of wine. “Omniscient” bar and restaurant staff know a passenger’s name, favorite cocktail, or whether a birthday or anniversary celebration is in order. Wearable devices can even suggest onboard activities based on the wearer’s preferences, and holographic staff and other apps make announcements, answer questions, and guide passengers around the ship using GPS navigation.
Speed across China in a bullet train
Amadeus is proud to be the first travel technology company outside mainland China to distribute China Railway, the world’s largest high-speed rail (HSR) network. This transportation treasure stretches 18,000 miles, reaches speeds of up to 217 miles per hour, and shuttles 2.4 billion passengers annually. In less than five hours, travelers can take the Beijing-Shanghai bullet train linking the two mega-cities, 819 miles apart. Now North American travel agencies using Amadeus Selling Platform Connect can book China Railway tickets in multiple languages. What will the future of rail look like in the next decade? An HSR network that links continents together, perhaps?
The future is here
Back to the Future Day is a fun way for Amadeus to celebrate the past – yet more importantly, to share our excitement for future innovations yet to come. As Doc Brown famously quipped in the iconic movie, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” At Amadeus, we’ve always believed this to be true – and always will.
What will the future of travel look like to you?