Luxury Travel Lifestyle PR
Whether you hanker to pay for cocktails with a smart ring or are curious about creating a Pokémon-style scavenger hunt, Alex Pell shines a light on the hottest tech travel trends for 2024
The happy union of technology and travel has been gladly making the world into a smaller place ever since the invention of the compass some 800 years ago. And so there is surely no better way to see which direction the travel industry is heading than to take a whistlestop tour of the digital river for a glimpse of what’s set to arrive next. Consider this a primer on the evolving landscape of consumer travel tech. Let’s get moving…
Brace for nuclear VR
Every luxury resort has been pitched a virtual tour or a full-blown metaverse experience. Whatever your view of the metaverse itself, the quality of consumer VR headsets got a big upgrade recently with the Meta Quest 3 – and is set to go nuclear when Apple Vision and Samsung XR both land in 2024. While the number of owners remains modest, VR does provide an opportunity for an epic visual showcase, either as a preview of a trip beforehand or, with the new Apple gizmo, to create a truly cinematic experience, even within the bijou confines of a yacht cabin. Is it time for resort owners to get serious about creating the visual assets that will make these ideas fly? Some would say, it’s never been better.
Be authentic with Web3
This covers an array of technologies whose common link is blockchain. Crypto and NFTs are the two best-known examples but are far from the whole story. Indeed, clever brands already deploy Web3 to the luxe traveller. For instance, shoppers can take comfort knowing goods are genuine because of Digital Product Passports in the Aura Blockchain, whether they are snaring a Prada handbag or a Givenchy digital collectible. Some NFTs also give owners’ rights, rather than purely being tradable assets – and so are popular for loyalty programmes, such as the Michelin 3xplorer Club, launched in 2023. This gives privileged access to ‘unique culinary experiences’ or a backstage pass to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. The real secret to Web3 projects is to understand the value it delivers. If you can’t, it’s probably unwise.
Greet the bionic concierge
The two virtues every traveller worships are saving time and bespoke service. It’s tempting to see AI as the saviour here – and it certainly has a role to play – but the devil is always in the detail. Anyone can quickly spin-up a digital ‘concierge’ chatbot or use tools that will automatically generate personalised emails (and videos) as part of an automated funnel. Some venues, such as Japan’s Henn na Hotel Group, go all-in with actual robots or holograms as receptionists. The point is that these ideas often only pay lip-service to making customers feel well-served. In truth, the best way to unleash AI is to blend these digital efficiencies with a truly human touch that feels smart because it still has people at its heart. The hybrid, or ‘bionic’ concierge, draws upon the power of AI while also making visitors feel cherished.
Embrace next-gen wearables
Switching off the phone is a universal holiday perk and while some folks default to a smartwatch to track their health or make contactless payments, there are many flavours of fruit here. Chief among these is the smart ring. For instance, the Oura Ring Gen 3, championed by ex-royal globetrotter Prince Harry, will monitor your sleep, activity, recovery, temperature, heart rate, stress levels and it’s also waterproof. Soon, Oura will offer tap-to-pay features, too, but if you can’t wait, London-based RingPay already offers an elegant metal ring that enables its wearer to conduct credit-card transactions with the merest waft of a finger – and it doesn’t even have a battery. No matter how sky-high your net worth, this idea makes it seductively easy to spend big while hunkered down in an exotic locale. You have been warned.
Capture the experience
Relaxation and cultural experience are the top reasons for travel, says the 2024 Hilton Trends Report. For some, that’s yoga in the mountain mist. To others, it’s a scavenger hunt with an augmented-reality game akin to Pokémon. The Banyan Tree Group created this at its Laguna Phuket resort and it proved a hit, irrespective of the prizes offered for finding hidden digital gems. The good news is that this is fairly simple to build these days. Whether it’s a hot-air balloon at dusk or a helicopter onto a glacier, guests also want mementos, so why make them risk their own phones when it’s easy to deploy follow-me drones or 360 action-cams for instantly shareable content? Those who can afford it, trust others to gather their memories, says Justin Weiler, personal holiday photographer to the wealthy. Weiler says the real trick is knowing what not to shoot and that, despite offering every posh digital format, his most common request is a slab of a coffee-table album. Good to know that in a digital world, there are still analogue sanctuaries.
Alex Pell is the freelance technology editor of the Evening Standard and the former editor of Stuff magazine. He also advises brands on how to create compelling experiences that delight and inspire in equal measure. Find out more at https://dashboardmedia.co.uk/
Luxury Travel and Lifestyle PR
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