Wearable electronics will become an important tool for travelers and travel businesses will have another digital channel to master, reveals WTM Global Trends Report 2014, in association with Euromonitor International, released today (Monday 3 November) at World Travel Market.
Technology businesses such as Samsung, Google and Sony already have wearable devices on the market, but Apple’s launch of its iWatch, scheduled for early 2015, will be the catalyst for widespread adoption.
Wearable and internet-connected devices will allow travellers to constantly receive notifications and services during their trip, as well as make bookings.
The report quotes Expedia Inc’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who says “We build the technology so that those same notifications can easily go to a Google Glass or someone’s watch…You have to build your technology with very flexible architecture, so that notifications can be sent to basically any device.” Expedia already has an app for the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch and is working on one for Google Glass, with notifications rather than bookings the current focus.
Elsewhere, Chinese travel site Qunar has built an app for the Samsung Galaxy Gear which does have booking functionalities, in particular for last-minute hotel deals.
Hotel giant Starwood has an app for Google Glass which allows bookings and provides directions to get to the hotel when at the destination. It will also work on an app which will allow an Apple Watch to be used as a room key.
Airlines are also active in this sector, with Iberia, Vueling and Air Berlin promising that their passengers will be able to download boarding passes directly onto their wearable devices.
The WTM Global Trends Report 2014 confirms that wearable electronics technology will be a mainstream consumer product by 2016. Wearable internet-connected devices are expected to rise from 9 million units sold globally in 2013 to a forecast 180 million in 2016.
World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Already some big travel brands are embracing wearable technology as part of their customer service and distribution mix. But the big change will come when Apple launches its own wearable device next year. Its smartphones and tablets fundamentally changed the travel industry and its watch is likely to have the same impact.”
Euromonitor International, Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner added: “Wearable technology will become mainstream across geographies and all sectors of the travel industry need to be prepared. When businesses such as Expedia are already preparing their systems accordingly, the rest of the industry needs to take note.”
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