Explore the future of TravelTech in 2023 as Hive Life spotlights the leading market trends prompting the adoption of transformative technologies in the sector easing travellers into the new wave of tourism.
The Covid-19 pandemic collapsed the global travel industry, transforming the future of mobility entirely. Asia Pacific’s tourism market was one of the worst-hit regions, with harsh travel restrictions and requirements imposed by governments further impacting the sector, as international arrivals plummeted by 95.3% during the first 3 quarters of 2021 alone.
Towards the end of 2022, Asia started to ease restrictions to bolster the recovery and growth of the global economy. While most Asian countries still struggle to fully recover and re-open their borders, balancing occasional flare-ups in cases and localised lockdowns, many have lifted strict regulations and begun to welcome tourists.
Tourism remains a top priority in 2023, as APAC regains its reputation as a popular destination for holiday goers, with technology adoption and innovation in digitalisation and automation spurring this new wave of travel. Integration of tech solutions is fundamental for sustainable recovery and market growth, while building resilience.
The TravelTech industry is forecasted to generate higher profitability in the coming years, with its market valuation predicted to rise to US$13.6 billion by 2027. Read our TravelTech industry guide to better navigate the tourism landscape in 2023, and explore the potential of these transformative technologies.
1. AI Travel Agents
Artificial intelligence (AI) has made great strides in the TravelTech industry, and will continue to grow in 2023. Nowadays, travellers expect quick and efficient operations, instead of having to wait in long queues to access customer service support. AI chatbots can not only facilitate the process, but further ensure that quality and swiftness are maintained, easing this burden for the hospitality and tourism business.
AI chatbots may soon serve as your virtual travel agent, personalised to cater to unique customers’ needs. Deploying such technologies is cost-effective, and brings great benefits, including reducing the risk of human error, while helping businesses solidify and streamline customer services across different channels, with 24/7 availability.
Hong Kong-headquartered TravelFlan is an AI-based marketplace dubbed as a virtual concierge. The platform also offers AI chatbot technologies and solutions for businesses looking to integrate innovative approaches to their current service offerings.
2. Smart Tourism and Biometrics
Facial recognition and fingerprint verification have become an important part of present-day travel. Biometric identification is deemed a household technology for security authentication, as major industries such as aviation and hospitality adopt it to fortify their systems and offer guests a safe and secure travel experience.
Biometric technology is expertly designed to capture and recognise subtle unique features of an individual’s face, handprint, etc. The process normally incorporates certain key identifiers, such as the retina, features and alignment scanning, or specific fingerprint ridges analysis.
The existing practice of biometric scans is observed in many international airports for various purposes, from visa application and travel documentation, to strengthening security checkpoints. The integration of this tech signifies the impact of digitalisation and the rise of contactless travel solutions.
Travel companies often deal with confidential client data and large financial transactions, becoming an easy target for cybercriminals through phishing, system hacks, and ransomware attacks. Digital fraud attempts rose by more than 150% in 2021, with travel and tourism being among the most impacted industries globally and many large hospitality groups having suffered from cyber-breaches.
Travel companies need to boost investments in cybersecurity training to reduce human error, and adopt external hardware and software solutions to ensure sensitive customer data is well protected. The importance of complying with the latest regulations and data protection laws is also fundamental.
4. Contactless Payments
Contactless payments have emerged as an important form of TravelTech growing to become essential. Simplifying and enabling transactions through a simple tap has caught great momentum in the hospitality industry by allowing users to travel light, and even cashless, without stressing about the safety and security of their valuables.
As physical debit and credit cards can easily be added to smart wallets, individuals no longer need to bring tangible assets, and can simply utilise apps to make payments with a single touch. Moreover, there are a plethora of platforms offering contactless payment services across different mobile devices, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
In addition, many startups in Asia have innovated their own applications including Singapore-based digital payment solution, NETSPay, Vietnam’s leading e-wallet application, MoMo, and PromptPay, a bank-led initiative in Thailand.
5. IoT-Enabled Travel
Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the prominent examples of modern-day interconnectedness, demonstrating high fluidity and integrative capabilities. It is also deemed a fast-growing technology in the travel and tourism sectors, leading an industry-wide evolution. The US$251.6 billion industry is set to disrupt traditional operation processes, and will further enable companies to enhance and digitise their revenue-generating models, further boosting customer services and overall product experience.
Hospitality groups have been quick to adopt this trend, integrating IoT technologies to build connectivity and efficiency within different machinery, equipment, and motion controls across various facilities such as hotel rooms and other recreational spaces to improve the customer journey throughout their stay.
Singaporean CleanTech startup, SensorFlow, is a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) provider, helping businesses integrate smart wireless IoT and AI solutions with their venues to facilitate monitoring, analysis, and automation of energy.