Talking about the technological revolution in travel is no longer hypothetical. The next twelve months will see continuous changes in the way people travel.
Five of the most important new developments that will shape travel in 2023 identified and highlighted by a report by the leading travel technology company, Amadeus, entitled "Amadeus 2023 Travel Trends", are summarised as follows:
-A new breed of travel agent is emerging: Travellers will be able to explore a destination before arriving or relive memories after a vacation is over via the metaverse.
-Biometrics: Biometrics will help create a smooth travel payment experience.
-Travel Without Luggage: Hotels will offer travellers more facilities so they can travel with less luggage.
-Work While Traveling: Those who work remotely will adopt an increasingly nomadic lifestyle, travelling to different places as telecommuting policies become the norm.
-Welcome Work Breaks That Help Employees to "Bond": A new category of business travel focused on connecting teams, building relationships and unlocking creativity away from the office is emerging.
These five travel trends were identified by Amadeus' team of experts, who recognised that while technology is the main driver of change, and Web3 and biometrics will play a big role, human relationships are just as important. All the trends are connected to personal and social concerns, from the desire to travel with a lighter ecological footprint to the desire for more people to be free to work from anywhere.
The Invasion of the Metaverse Changing Travel As We Know It
In the coming years, the metaverse will take traveller engagement to the next level. Travellers will be able to enjoy deeper cultural experiences in an online world by exploring virtual concerts, exhibitions and tours. Technology also offers huge potential for pre-trip assistance and the opportunity to 'try before you buy', creating further wanderlust and excitement. This mode of exploration will become increasingly popular as a way for consumers to experience more expensive services, such as luxury cruise vacations.
The Walt Disney Company, for example, is planning to create a real-world theme park tour that will incorporate a parallel 3D virtual world experience, while Seoul is blazing a trail with plans to move into the metaverse in 2023 with a platform called 'Metaverse Seoul'. Qatar Airways, meanwhile, recently announced Qverse with MetaHuman cabin crew, providing an immersive browsing, navigation and check-in experience at Hamad International Airport.
Biometric Payments – Pay by Smiling or With the Palm of Your Hand
Biometric payments – via ApplePay or GooglePay – are now mainstream for both retail and travel payments. But in the coming years, travel is likely to further upgrade biometric payments.
Airports already use biometrics such as facial recognition to identify travel documents, so the logical next step is to leverage this authentication for any payments travellers make during their trips.
No more rummaging through your bag for your wallet so you can upgrade to business class. If a traveller uses biometrics to check in, drop off their luggage and board the plane, then those same ID checks could cover payments they might make during the trip - like adding a meal on a flight - providing a smooth payment experience.
Airports and travel companies will offer a completely contactless and convenient payment experience to passengers using biometrics at all points of the journey. From paying for train tickets to upgrading seats, in-flight meals, or late hotel checkout, travellers around the world will use convenient, more secure, biometric payment solutions.
Small tests of the system have already begun at Hudson, leveraging Amazon One's biometric payment solution at its Nashville International Airport store, allowing customers to pay with the palm of their hand!
The combination of customers becoming more aware of the carbon footprint of their travels and the cost of checked bags is leading to a reduction in luggage volume. Unnecessary loads of designer luggage are no longer a status symbol – quite the opposite.
Hotels are now increasingly offering rental of bulk items such as sports equipment and workout clothes from international suppliers in order to meet the requirements and lifestyle tastes of tourists.
At the same time, travellers are increasingly looking to purchase essential items from the destination, supporting and interacting with the local community and ensuring they have meaningful travel experiences. Global brands like Hilton now offer fitness equipment, helping travellers get closer to "living without a suitcase" – a trend which is expected to evolve further.
Remote workers will become accustomed to an increasingly nomadic lifestyle, migrating to different locations. We will see the workforce spend less time at home due to the widespread corporate "work from anywhere" policy.
Employees will choose to spend time with friends and family at home or may spend a month working abroad.
There will be a continued rise in the number of countries encouraging digital nomads through government visa programs and incentives. Countries such as Georgia, Croatia, Iceland and Germany already have official plans to attract digital nomads.
Case in point, Amadeus recorded a 165% increase in searches from Sydney for remote work travel from Bangkok in September 2022 compared to 2019, as well as a 74% increase in searches for flights from Sao Paulo to Lisbon - with Bangkok and Lisbon being ranked by global community of remote workers Nomadlist in its top five cities for digital work.
Employee Bonding Breaks
Business travel is back, with a difference. In recent years, many companies have introduced work-from-anywhere policies and with that came the challenge of team bonding and collaboration.
As a result, we are witnessing a rise in "domestic travel" plans, where work groups come together with the express purpose of strengthening relationships.
A recent study published by American Express Global Business Travel titled "Why Business Travel Is at the Center of the New Company Culture" provided further support for this prediction.
With the employee experience more important than ever, group travel programs will grow exponentially as a great way to motivate teams, improve satisfaction, strengthen company loyalty and unlock creativity.