Intelligent devices are shaping this year’s holiday travel season in a big way. With more than 100 million people likely to take to the road or the skies, our journeys to see family and friends, relax on a tropical beach or hit the slopes will be a little easier thanks to connected travel devices. One Tata Consultancy survey found that hospitality executives are investing heavily in intelligent products, leading other industries, with an average of $128 million per company. Product designers and engineering innovators are doing everything from re-imagining the cruise experience to making it a little easier to find lost luggage.
Here are seven intelligent travel devices that will be shaping holiday travel, winter vacations and beyond.
The Smart suitcase
Whether you’re getting away for a few days or going on a round-the-world holiday, the suitcase is the foundation of your travel experience, safely holding anything you might need. Innovative companies are developing a variety of bags you can track no matter where you are. Bluesmart has a suitcase that features both Bluetooth and GPS, making it trackable via an app on your smartphone. It also includes a device charger, syncs up with your flight information to avoid weight issues and baggage fees, will unlock when in proximity to your smartphone on request, and comes in a range of sizes from laptop bags to onboard and checked baggage capacity. Delsey’s connected luggage line, Pluggage, will inform owners if the case was opened in transit and more. Neit’s smart luggage offers a variety of features, with the added bonus of folding down significantly. Lost luggage, overweight fees, and items going missing from your bags in transit will be a thing of the past with smart bags.
Dynamic pricing engines
Artificial intelligence and big data are converging to power apps and devices that make it easier to track the travel industry’s ever-changing prices. Airfare, hotel fees, and recreational costs can fluctuate from day to day or even minute to minute. Infoworld notes, “No one has time to track all those changes manually. Thus, smart tools which monitor and send out timely alerts with hot deals are currently in high demand in the travel industry.” An array of dynamic pricing options are available, from Hopper to Hipmunk. Any traveler with a smartphone can access a fast-growing array of dynamic pricing engines, from booking general travel to comparing prices on a fishing trip from the beach in Waikiki.
Artificial intelligence-powered in-room voice speakers
The popularity of voice-activated speakers for the home and office has made an obvious impact on the hospitality experience as well. Skift reports that some hotel brands are testing voice speakers powered by artificial intelligence (AI) in guest rooms. Brands including Wynn, Best Western, and Marriott are looking at whether Alexa, Google Home, and similar devices can be paired with customized software to make your hotel stay a little more comfortable. Smart devices can quickly give guests a preview of the weather outside the hotel, forecast travel times based on traffic conditions or look up a fact about the host city. Guests can also enjoy practical benefits such as setting a wake-up call, streaming an in-room playlist selection, or ordering a bite off the room service menu. When paired with apps that allow guests to adjust the in-room temperature or change the channel on the television, these devices can make your next hotel stay more relaxed and hands-off.
Carnival’s Trident: wayfinding on ships
A cruise can be the ultimate cushy option for visiting multiple destinations in a single vacation while enjoying food, entertainment, and an ocean view. Today’s cruise ships are larger than ever before to accommodate more guests and a range of activities as diverse as onboard rock-climbing walls and waterparks. Guests have more to do and have bigger challenges navigating these entertainment-focused flotillas. Carnival Cruises, according to the New York Times, is the leader of a trend that’s likely to dominate the cruise industry. Its technology goes by the internal code name Trident and is a connected disk guest can carry in their pocket. With its integrated interface, guests will be able to pay for food and drinks, gamble, unlock their stateroom door and get assistance navigating the ship. Carnival’s team includes one of the masterminds behind the Disney MagicBand, and the technology may prove to be just as revolutionary for the cruise guest experience.
Intelligent devices: making airports smarter
With airlines cutting back and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) standards stricter than ever, an impending plane ride is likely to evoke groans. However, the airline industry has implemented a number of intelligent devices to help minimize discomfort and keep things moving for customers as much as possible. According to Marketingland, 90 percent of airports have already rolled out beacons or other proximity sensors that make it easier for guests to use wayfinding apps or devices. Danish company BLIP Systems is providing back-end experiences that are allowing many airports to forecast how long security waits will be for airport guests. And that’s just the beginning of how intelligent systems and devices will collect and optimize airport trends in the future.
Gathering real-time feedback
Hotel chains and other travel providers are using intelligent buttons to test features and let guests provide immediate feedback on them. As Quartz reported, Marriott has created a lab hotel and is inviting guests to tap a “like” button for specific features they enjoy. Other chains have similar initiatives underway, including asking guests to tap interactive screens or share real-time feedback in the hotel or location’s app. Connected devices are providing better feedback loops for both guests and hotels. Hotels can conduct market research with their most important audiences – real customers – and guests have a way to immediately indicate their displeasure if something’s going wrong.
With the travel season soon to be underway, there are several intelligent devices and trends designed to make your experience just a little better. From in-room amenities to smart luggage, strong product design and bold imagination are making it easier to enjoy travel, stay connected and avoid the headaches that are commonly associated with life on the road.