By far one of my favorite topics to learn about at industry events is technology. It is amazing to hear about developments in this area – one that is constantly changing and evolving with something new to learn about each time I attend an education session. Although this constant state of change can be hard to keep up with, here are a few trends to keep tabs on:
Wearables are just getting started. From 2014 to 2015, the wearables market grew from 35.5 million shipments in 2014 to 85.0 million in 2015, a year-over-year growth of 139.4%. Recent predictions show shipments increasing to 560 million by 2021. Technological developments in this area are also expected to increase. Technology in development, such as Cicret and Vue, could substantially change how we interact with our devices. How will this translate to the corporate travel space? Capabilities are already available through certain apps for Apple Watch, such as gate change notifications, delayed or cancelled flight updates, and hotel reservation reminders, among others. Look for an expansion of these services as the variety of devices available to travelers continues to expand.
AaA (App as Assistant)
The AaA, or “App as Assistant” trend will continue to increase as Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities improve. Need suggestions for a weekend trip with friends? Copy in email@example.com to your group email to get suggestions on flights, hotels, etc. sent to everyone in the group from Hipmunk’s AI travel planning assistant. Called Hello Hipmunk, it is easy to see how this scenario could translate from a group of friends to a group traveling to a client or a company meeting. Hello Hipmunk also integrates with Facebook Messenger and Slack so travelers never need to leave the comfort of familiar apps. As common with developments in this area, the question becomes how to drive compliance while allowing travelers to use tools they love. Perhaps Concur’s recent acquisition of Hipmunk will allow this type of technology to make the jump to the corporate travel space.
Retina and full handprint scanners sound like the stuff of James Bond films, but the technology allowing for biometric identification is rapidly becoming more affordable, which should lead to more widespread use. Today, Touch ID on the iPhone (used to verify mobile payment through Apple Pay) and Global Entry handprint scan kiosks are already available for everyday use. Look out for the broader adoption of these features to benefit travelers with more secure identification methods.
In the on-demand services world, Uber and Lyft have moved on from their disruptive days of revolutionizing the ground transportation industry to established players. Expect the trend to continue along the vein of “Uber for X” with companies such as DUFL (luggage), AirGrub (airport food), GrubHub/Seamless (food delivery) and Jettly (aviation). As more of these services become available and used for travelers’ leisure needs, expect demand and questions concerning them to increase. A review of travel policy in light of these new suppliers may be beneficial to effectively handle inquiries.
Overall, the technology space and its effect on our everyday lives, as well as the corporate travel field, promises to continue to be an exciting one. No doubt more advancements will be revealed as we enter 2017 – just in time for more education sessions on developments in this exciting and dynamic field.