Whether by plane, train or automobile; over 50 million Americans will take a week or longer vacation in 2018. Spring break season was just a preview for the upcoming summer travel blitz. Memorial Day thru Labor Day weekends and then on into the holidays millions will look to get away from home. A good vacation is one of those concepts that is as American as apple pie. Imagine it is 1999 and a cross-country trip tops your bucket list; well then a vital and pretty much the only step was to find a good travel agent and let the expert take over from there. Fast forward to 2019 and the entire process has been revolutionized. Travel Tech is moving at the speed of a bullet train. The planning, the packing, the travel and the destination selection all come with their own distinct challenges and rewards.

Previously; a quick google search was the full extent of technology usability the traveler had to worry about.  Finding the best local deals, activities and hot spots opened a far too complicated minefield for the average traveler to navigate. NoirBnb, Lyft, and thousands of other new companies have developed and emerged within the travel space and they are completely revolutionizing traveling at every level. It can be said that Uber, scandals and all; has been the single most successful agents of change in the travel industry since the launch of the Model T in 1908. The company has now launched yet another moonshot with the hopes of disrupting the entire travel market once again, but we will discuss that a bit later. 110 years ago Henry Ford’s factory changed the world; today all types of technology are reshaping the way we travel and vacation from start to finish. The landscape of the travel and transportation industry is seeing rapid advancement and this is only the beginning.

Times have changed and all travelers want is as much knowledge as possible to make the most informed travel decisions. Travelers also want that welcoming feeling which Airbnb realized they could provide. In 2014 Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s Co-founder & CEO said “At its core, Airbnb is about belonging.  If we are to be understood as a brand and more importantly as a community we need to communicate this idea of ‘belonging’ to the world.” Thus ‘Belong Anywhere’ the company’s slogan demonstrates a dynamic shift in the mindset of travelers; traveling should be personal. Your trip should fit you perfectly. Disney since its inception has been a brand and a place that has aspired to make dreams come true. Founder Walt Disney was a man who prided himself on reaching for the cutting edge of innovation. Guest at a Disney park never wants for much. Anyone familiar with Disney knows the story of Walt himself trailing behind guest in the park to see how often trash was dropped to better position trash receptacles. They are within 30 feet of each other if you were wondering. It is that type of attention to detail that Disney has reinvented with its new MyMagic+ experience. Per Disney; “If you choose to participate in MyMagic+, we will collect information from you online so when you visit our resort, you are provided with an experience even more immersive and personalized.” Now while this may seem extreme, this type of immersive experience will establish a baseline of expectation for the future of travel.


Travel destinations globally have slowly tried to embrace the concept of personalization. They’ve begun to collect even more extensive information about their guest in order to provide a customizable experience second to none.


Advances in technology have allowed travelers to handle more of the travel workload. Inevitably this means less work for travel agents and in fact, a total redefinition of what an agent of travel is and does. A Google search may still be the first action a trip planner takes to get the ball rolling. The second is to ask our friends; they have become a vital resource and point of contact when researching a trip. In 2018 a travel agent may be no more than someone who we have never actually met but rather a social media personality whose recommendations we have grown to trust. Whether its friends we have known since high school or that Twitter friend you have followed since 2009. A friend’s endorsement of a place they’ve been to elicits a perceived higher level of tangible experience than a traditional travel guide could ever hope to offer.

Travel bloggers and influencers; like in many other voices of industries such as fashion and makeup, have seen this growing trend. They are harnessed their own digital following and voice in order to provide insight to their ever-growing base of potential travelers. Travel influencers have all but supplanted the classic travel agent. Travel influencers are also the ones collecting missing pieces of data to aid travel destinations with personalization. Some of the best Influencers have learned how to make their readers believe any destination is approachable, doable, and worthy of the additional cost. Using techniques such as listicles of cheap places to eat, dos and don’ts, and their top recommendations for the perfect Instagram-worthy photo – travel blogs simply answer the questions many want to ask but don’t want to pay a travel agent to answer.

Those who provide the actual travel are riding the technology wave as well. A number of major freight companies have begun to take advantage of advances in Intelligent Transportation Systems. The entire commercial freight industry is truly at the forefront of a number of different initiatives, including connected and autonomous vehicles, alternative fuel sources, keyless fleet management and traffic pattern analytics. Transportation companies as a whole will continue to expand and innovate in the years to come. “It’s push a button and get a flight,” said Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer for Uber, in his keynote at last year’s Uber Elevate Summit.  Remember when we said Uber would look to evolve and maintain its disruptive status. Uber Elevate is the company’s attempt to provide an aerial component to its already existing service model. The 2nd Annual Elevate Summit happening May 8-9 in Los Angeles aims to bring together over 700 aviation leaders from the worlds of industry, government, and academia.

Trailblazing travel hubs such as Miami International Airport will also look to roll out their own version of beacon technology in the same way Disney has done with their parks. Now while it is not feasible to affix a wristband to every traveler, strategically placed beacons connected to a shared app could be used to capture “Big Data”. Which is essential and needed to better improve travel experiences throughout the airport. Imagine being able to track luggage and travel companions throughout the airport in the same way one can currently follow a pizza delivery.  Electronic passports are already being implemented in customs checkpoints at major international ports. The goal is to have an international electronic passport system making the paper stamp book a thing of the past. All the technology exist today and will in the near future be as synonymous with the airport as the moving walkway. The next few decades of innovation will forever reshape every aspect of commercial transportation as we know it. New transportation technologies are emerging to meet challenges on the road, on the rails and in the sky.