From energy-positive hotels to Virtual Reality experiences, technology is disrupting the travel sector in a big way. Harmonising innovative ideas with sustainability and experience-upgrading concepts, these are some of the hottest technology trends to look out for in the not-so-distant future.
Want to view First Class before you book? Airlines are increasingly utilising Augmented and Virtual Reality to showcase airplane cabins pre-booking. Japan’s First Airlines lets you don a VR headset and take a virtual flight. The VR experience doesn’t end before your trip, however, in-room VR cleverly presents in-destination activities. Pioneers of this concept, the Marriot group’s VRoom Service and VR Postcards let guests view Virtual Reality travelogues from the comfort of their suite.
Robot staff AI
Check in to Tokyo’s Henn na Hotel and you’ll be welcomed by AI receptionists, who check you in. The world’s first hotel staffed by ultra-lifelike robots, it’s hospitality’s vision of the future, today. Likewise, the Pengheng Space Capsules Hotel in China, where rooms resemble futuristic spaceship pods. Each of its doormen, waiters, and receptionists, are all robots. You can order a drink at the bar using a tablet and a robot will whisk it over to you shortly.
Inspired by first-class aircraft travel, Manhattan’s Sci-Fi style YOTEL has electronic check-in terminals with ‘YOBOT’ the robot (a giant AI robotic arm) to take care of your luggage before and after check out. Guests approach a touchscreen to enter a pin then place their luggage into a deposit bin. The YOBOT will then safely store it away until needed.
In the travel arena, technology isn’t just for enhancing customer experience, it’s increasingly playing a part in sustainability, too. Scandi design studio, Snøhetta have unveiled their plans for the world’s first energy-positive hotel in Norway. Svart Hotel will produce more energy than it uses thanks to the solar panels topping its circular structure. Working in partnership with other Norwegian companies, Snøhetta began their design process by researching how the hotel could use renewable energy. They mapped the movement of the sun’s rays, deciding that a circular shape topped with solar panels would provide optimum levels of light throughout the day and across the changing seasons.
Forget iPads and docking stations, hotel rooms are becoming even smarter with super high technology on the horizon. Whether opening doors with a mobile key or texting staff for requests, smart hotels are all about enhancing the customer experience. The Hilton group’s Honours app will soon allow guests to control lighting, heating and TV all from their smartphones, while Marriot International is exploring voice-activated technology. In Barcelona, meanwhile, guests staying at the stylish Alma Hotel will be able to use their fingertips to access their room, meaning you’ll never lose that room key again.
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