Technology’s Massive Impact on Travelers (Notes)

Last week, the folks at Sabre Travel Network hosted, in conjunction with Tnooz, a webinar on Technology’s Massive Impact on Travelers. A thoroughly compelling session full of current industry trends and future predictions, you can enjoy the entire webinar and accompanying slides here. In case you didn’t have enough time to digest the entire presentation, however, I’ve pulled together some key takeaways and facts from the session below, which underscored this fundamental fact: more information can enable better decisions by travelers just as too much can overwhelm when making those decisions.

  • 3 technology evolutions over the last decade have impacted travel the most: the diversity of devices, bulk of bytes and speed of sharing available.
  • In 2000, there were 500,000 mobile calls made; today, there are 500 million mobile Facebook app users.
  • By 2016, it will take 6 million years to watch every second of video that will move across our IP networks.
  • By 2016, there is a projected sales growth of wearable technology devices from 14 to 171 million.
  • As of 2012, more people own a mobile phone than a toothbrush.
  • eMarketer reports that 72% of vacationers post photos while on vacation, and 70% update their Facebook statuses.
  • The point of technology’s impact on travelers today and its potential for tomorrow is huge: it influences the “inspire” (why), “connect” (when/where/who/how), and “experience” (what) phase.
  • Trends impacting travel inspiration include:
    • Social sharing, which is evolving to include new mediums like audio (e.g. Picle) and different ways like Pinterest (creating board to qualify different kinds of trips)
    • Crowdsourcing, which continues to be used in new ways as people put the power of the crowd to creative use (e.g. FlightFox, Waze, Polyvore, Localmind)
    • Interactive touchwalls, which are gesture-based browsing experiences that allow retailers to draw in and keep people in-store longer and more often
    • Second-screen interactions are becoming extremely prevalent – already 42% of tablet owners use their device while watching TV.
    • Information overload + attention deficient societies begins to inhibit leisure travel based on fear of missing out on positive and negative experiences.
    • 50% of SMB (small business owners) owners will not take a summer vacation during 2012 summer citing “too much to do” (good for economy, bad for people)
    • Trends impacting the in-transit experience include: recording personal travel histories, self-charging technology, trading data for convenience, turning online experiences to offline rewards
    • Having technology during travel to enhance the experience remains a huge priority in the digital landscape (e.g. having a comprehensive virtual travel guide is beneficial but the cost and availability of data while traveling overseas is key to implementation)

The webinar closed with the following encapsulating point and quote: that the traveler tomorrow would be different than the one today.  As Ray Kurzweil so wisely says, “I’m an inventor. I became interested in long-term trends because an invention has to make sense in the world in which it is finished, not the world in which it is started.” 

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