Tech For Holiday Travel

Danielle Beurteaux

While we’re all waiting for the jet that will ferry us from New York to London in half an hour, or for the Concorde-2 (yeah, everything has a sequel these days), there are plenty of other travel tech companies trying to create a better trip.

Where will we go? Travel trends for 2016

If analysts are correct, more Americans will be hitting the road, rails, or skies in 2016. Business travel will increase, thanks to an improving economy and exchange rate. Traveling by air could be less expensive, although hotels may not be. Expedia ran its numbers and agrees that airfares could decrease, thanks to more flights (and it also says that booking two weeks in advance is the airfare sweet spot).

Travelers are using mobile devices more and more while traveling, according to Euromonitor International research, and the hospitality industry will take advantage of that via technology that enables sending suggestions straight to travelers’ devices.

Travel industry experts are predicting an increased use of technology in 2016, with airport and hotel staff using tools and devices to help improve the customer experience.

Tech for happier travel

Cheaper travel means more people traveling. And more people can mean more frustration. Companies like Qalendra are trying to make the experience a bit more pleasant.

Seattle-based travel startup Qalendra is using its own algorithms to create a full-picture traveling planning experience (it’s for B2B at the moment). By gathering information from across a variety of sources, the company’s goal is to enable data-based decisions.

Similarly, there’s Austin’s WayBlazer, which calls itself “the cognitive travel platform.” It uses IBM’s Watson to create custom travel plans.

Fleet won the FAA’s design competition (full title: FAA Design Competition for Innovative Applications of FAA Data) a few years ago when it was a student project. Now it’s launched in the real world. Often compared to traffic app Waze, it uses crowdsourcing and historical data to provide real-time airport information about things like delays, lines, and even in-airport shopping and eating options.

For skiers, several resorts have apps that keep track of lift wait times, and even recommend trails.

Old tech: humans

The digital economy removed a good deal of the human element from travel planning. But there are some startups that want to put human help back into the equation. Anyone who’s booked a trip online knows the problem of travel information overload, and a human interface (read: expert) could be the element to creating a simpler planning experience. In the case of a Kayak co-founder’s new company, that could be as simple as sending a simple text. Other travel companies are reporting brisk business for the same reason – instead of digging through mounds of websites and recommendations, it’s sometimes simply easier, quicker, and maybe a little less stressful to speak to another person.

Prefer to travel by car? Take a look at how the car sales pipeline is being transformed by technology in The Hyperconnected Car research report.

Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.