Convenience is King. And tech makes travel easier than ever

We’re entering a new golden era of travel technology, where all the annoying parts of a journey are a thing of the past. Convenience – it’s the king we deserve.

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For anyone born before the 1990s, it won’t feel like that long ago when all travel was booked in-person. Travel agents and ticket offices, international calls to hotels – these were the only ways to book trips and accommodation. But then, the internet happened. And life, for better or for worse, has never been the same since.

Travel technology brought bookings into our homes. Later, it put them directly at our fingertips, no matter the time or place. Convenience became king, and soon, the pioneering paths of least resistance, first taken by early adopters of digital travel tech, became superhighways.

Today, it’s impossible to imagine a world without online bookings and reservations – where you can book a trip to the Maldives (hotel, transfers and all) on the train to work. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, and emerging technologies are making travel easier than it's ever been.

It’s not all smooth sailing, though. And it’s not without controversy. In fact, as good as things are right now, they could (and should) be a whole lot better.

Read more – Legacy travel tech: it's time to fix the plumbing

That said, we could soon be entering a new golden era of travel technology and advancement. All the parts of a journey that have historically put a bit of a downer on the whole experience are becoming a thing of the past.

The not-so-distant future is one where travellers barely notice check-ins, security or border control. In some places, the future’s already here.

We’re excited about all of that. But the travel experience as a whole starts long before check-ins and border control. 

It starts with researching and booking trips. It extends into the anticipation and excitement surrounding the trip. Buying new luggage and outfits, looking up restaurants and activities, checking the long range weather forecast for weeks on end… It’s all part of it.

So, let’s talk about all the ways that travel technology is making journeys better than ever – from start to finish.

Mobile apps

There is no question that the smartphone is the invention of the century. Mobile apps have made life unbelievably easy, in ways that even the most forward-thinking futurists of decades gone by couldn’t even fathom.

Access to every book ever written, a stunning camera that fits in your pocket, and a portal to communicate with anyone else – instantly. All in a device smaller than a slice of toast.

It’s frankly preposterous, this future we live in.

The vast majority of people now research and get ideas about travel through their phones – and social media’s influence accounts for about half of the initial inspiration to go somewhere. On the business travel side, 70% seek out reviews as a starting point.

From there, mobile travel apps allow us to book flights, hotels and any other services we might need on the fly. And we absolutely love it. So much so, the mobile travel market is expected to be worth €1.4 billion within the next ten years.

And it makes sense – it’s easy to access it all from one device, from research to booking. But convenience is about more than just access.

UX and UI design in travel technology has historically been (and sort of still is) awful. Decades-old systems shoehorned into modern devices are not fit for purpose – but it’s “how we’ve always done it”.

Things are changing. Consumers, vendors and agents have begun to demand more of their experiences when searching and booking travel content. They want modern interfaces that work as expected – not clunky rehashes of desktop interfaces, hacked into a mobile version as an afterthought.

“…millennials prioritise technology and expect a frictionless travel experience. They prefer to book their travel arrangements online, with 60% of them booking their trips through their smartphones.” – Snowfall Next-gen travel tech report, 2023

And this part of the experience is what feeds into the idea of frictionless travel; a concept that is only possible thanks to travel technology – but where the tech itself seems to disappear.

Frictionless travel

Currently in the US, there’s a rapid adoption of "Face ID" for airports – facial recognition technology that seeks to eliminate the need for fully manual border control and boarding pass checks.

This promises enhanced security with less fuss, and Dubai Airport’s infamous iris scanners have proven that the technology can achieve a mostly contactless, friction-free experience.

But there are some legitimate concerns over who will own and safeguard biometric data, and how open the capture and storage process really is. Right now, the protections are quite broad and non-specific – tied to things like GDPR, which of course isn’t a thing in the US.

A lot of people are put off by the idea. And maybe they’re right to be – after banking firms, defence organisations and the police all suffered a biometric data breach in 2019. Beyond hacking and data leaks, facial recognition and scanning tech has a slightly dystopian, Minority Report vibe to it – with some people worried that it won’t be used for security at all, but instead for marketing and monitoring people.

Still – travel friction happens in more places than just the border and check-in phases. New CT scanning tech promises better baggage checks, with no need to get devices out of bags, or take off your shoes and belts. And baggage reclaim – the slowly rotating horror that it is – could also stand to get an upgrade. Especially if your bags aren’t there when you go to get them…

So far, we’ve focused a lot on airports. And maybe that’s because, even though they make up a tiny fraction of our journey, they’re easily the most frustrating part of it. Truly frictionless travel is not just confined to the airport. This is where multimodal travel is changing the way we move, and the technology that enables it is finally in our hands.

The frictionless future? It’s multimodal travel

Multimodal travel simply means using different modes of transport to get from one place to another. Most of us do this already when we travel by taking a combination of planes, trains, buses, cars and ride-hailing services – but practically speaking, multimodal travel platforms let you book all of these different transportation methods as a single trip.

And multimodal bookings might soon get a major shot in the arm. The European Commission's Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) initiative aims to simplify the way people access and use multimodal transport – but numerous policy setbacks, and concerns over a level playing field from rail operators, have pushed the initiative back considerably (it was supposed to go live in Q1 of 2023).

Read more: What is the Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) initiative?

There’s no doubt that multimodal travel is the frictionless future we all deserve – it might just be that the MDMS isn’t what achieves it.

Personalised recommendations

Personalisation in travel is something we’ll be discussing more in the near future, because it’s proving to be more than just the latest fad and buzzword. It’s a delicate one to get right, but it could be the key to unlocking better experiences, absolute customer loyalty, and more revenue as a result.

The travel technology within our flagship Junction platform uses data analytics. This can be studied in order to provide personalised recommendations to travellers.

This could mean anything from helping them find the best deals, to suggesting destinations or activities, based on their preferences. This means people will have to opt-in to data collection services – but a survey by Accenture found that 83% of travellers are willing to share their data to receive personalised recommendations.

But this is just the beginning of what personalisation can do, and many organisations actually have this data at their disposal already. Mining it, parsing it, and ultimately benefiting from it – without the creepy “Minority Report effect” – is what we’ll be covering in an upcoming article.

Experience truly frictionless travel – powered by Junction

Junction is the world’s most audacious attempt yet at building a truly unified travel ecosystem. Talk to our team, and learn more about the travel technology that powers frictionless, multimodal travel within Junction.

Media contact

Andrew Harreiter

Head of Marketing

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