Technology and connectivity are now paramount to the travel industry that has become one of the world’s largest and fastest growing sectors. With people spending more on travel than on goods and a steady increase in the number of travelers, Travel 4.0, much like Industry 4.0, represents a new, more innovative and connected way of doing business.

Interestingly, the same technologies that drive Industry 4.0 are poised to further disrupt the travel industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now a crucial element in the personalization of travel services. Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling connected sensors, devices and systems to communicate in innovative ways with the consumer to elevate the user experience. For example, connected airline seats can measure passengers’ anxiety, body temperature, and hydration levels, and provide appropriate services.

Hotels are now automatically aligning room temperatures with travelers’ preferences. Digital assistants are taking over the roles of concierges. Alexa and Siri are competing intensely to become the preferred choice for hotel guests.

Robotics and process automation have made their mark in front and back-office services across the travel ecosystem. Their impact is slowly being felt in ground transportation, with 10 million driverless cars estimated to hit the roads by 2020. Travel companies are also looking to implement blockchain to streamline online distribution and re-invent loyalty programs.

Intelligent Revolution in Smart Travel

For travel companies, intimate connectivity is their lifeline. The intelligent man-technology interaction that Industry 4.0 affords may be used to piece together unified customer views and drive hyper-personalized offers. Travel companies will do well to leverage AI, machine learning, IoT, and near-field communication to create real-time personalized moments and experiences.

While big data analytics is enabling the proficient analysis of complex data streams, Industry 4.0 technologies can operationalize it in real time to empower frontline staff through digital channels. It could be a case of a frequent business flyer being greeted by name while checking in and boarding – and being given their favorite drink while seated. Or it could be a hotel guest who finds the room set to their ideal preferences while they are checking in or being notified about their favorite events in town.

Restaurants need not be laggards when it comes to smart experiences. Next-generation customer relationship management systems will link reservations to guest profiles. Through customized apps, managers and chefs can identify first-time diners, repeat customers and even those with food allergies. They can also build a rapport by interacting with them when they are dining.

As experiential spending increases, there is much to explore outside the traditional confines of travel operations. Can travel companies shift their line of sight beyond their core competencies to find adjacent areas of relevance that add innovative value to travelers? Today, such initiatives are fragmented and standalone. Embedding them into a unified ecosystem opens up opportunities to leverage technology, platforms and analytics.

It is time for travel companies to forge alliances with digital tours and activity aggregators. Such partnerships could be the building blocks for smart travel, whose elements are intuitively connected through Industry 4.0 technologies.

Ultimately, Travel 4.0 is all about bringing together the physical and digital spaces, combining infrastructure and technology to deliver a well-connected, personalized, smart and seamless customer experience.

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