Welcome to the future - now
The digital consumer - speed and convenience for future travel - now!
We are in the year 2025. Mary, a successful business woman in New York, starts thinking about a short holiday whilst having her shower. Through voice command she initiates a virtual reality demo of the destinations she considers, from Bejing to Tuscany and Argentina. She decides for Tuscany and orders the flight booking and the accommodation.
All is happening automatically via Lisa, her personal robotic concierge. Her booking is stored in her chip, a body implant storing the booking and initiating the payment once all the travel decisions will have been taken.
She gets the choice of letting her baggage be picked up by robotic service agents or the more adventurous version of sending pictures of her preferred dresses to the hotel to order preparation of a 3D print as well as a selection of her favourite cosmetics ready in her room at arrival, avoiding to carry any suitcase at all.
All the decisions to organise around her travel will be handled by Lisa as well - her preferred way to get to the airport with a driverless shared electronic car if the traffic allows, fast track to avoid any queues at the airport security checks, which she can pass fast as it can read her implant identification, and boarding the aircraft.
And of course the aircraft has a transparent fuselage, personalised seating, with a pre-booked massage by a robotic flight attendant, and is much faster than the legacy Concorde aircraft used to be.
2025? Or now? Almost all of this could already be reality! In the Mitsubishi department store in Tokyo, a lady in Kimono welcomes customers - and they only recognise at second glance that this is a robot. At Tokyo Haneda airport, robotic workers are already used for cleaning and carrying heavy luggage.
And KLM, Japan Airlines and Dubai International Airport are testing right now socially aware, cognitive robots designed to meet, greet and assist travelers. Spencer, Nao and Amer are especially useful when it comes to performing simple, yet repetitive and time-consuming tasks, thereby freeing up airport staff to address passengers’ more complex needs. A lot more is happening with artificial intelligence, including intelligent furniture. Amazon Echo is a very current example, being sold for $200.
Last year, a Swedish company has implanted microchips in its staff which allows them to use the photocopier, open security doors and even pay for their lunch. It is hoped that eventually around 700 employees from the Epicenter hi tech office block in Stockholm may eventually have the chips implanted into the back of their hands.The chips use radio-frequency identification (RFID) and are about the same size as a grain of rice. Radio-frequency identification is already used for contactless cards as well.
And Facebook staff enjoy virtual reality during their breaks... Welcome to tomorrow!
By Ursula Silling, do things differently, XXL Solutions
The vision on the travel experience was developed during one of the discussion groups at the AI Ancillary Merchandising Conference in Barcelona in April 2016, with participants including representatives from Groupon, IATA, Holiday Extras, Fly Money, Sabre and A2B Transfers. It took place during an innovation workshop, sponsored by Datalex. The overall workshop was moderated by Sinead Finn, Director at affinity. This specific group was moderated by Ursula Silling, Founder & CEO at XXL Solutions. The workshop was an interactive session to explore the future imperatives for the digital transformation of airline retail - what do airlines and travel companies need to do to prepare for this.
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