It was Bill Gates who said that “the advance of technology is based on “making it fit in” so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.”
And if the latest travel tech is anything to go by, he’s 100% right.
FCM general manager, Bonnie Smith says that as business travel recovers, more and more companies are embracing technology to help them get back on the road with confidence.
According to Smith, the following technology trends will transform travel bookings, the traveller journey, as well as productivity in 2022 and beyond.
Easy access to latest Covid information
Access to accurate, up-to-the minute information has never been more important. Smith says the travel management booking platforms need to provide updated information on both destination and origin information around Covid testing, quarantine regulations or specific travel documents for entry.
“Booking platforms, like the FCM hub, need to make it easy for travel bookers and travellers to access the latest information,” says Smith.
“We need to move away from having to trawl the internet for the latest restrictions and regulations – and introduce increased productivity for the entire travel management team.”
Real-time traveller tracking
Duty of care will remain top of mind in 2022. So much so that you can expect significant advancements in real-time traveller tracking, including integrated risk management tools and customised safety dashboards which allow bookers to see where all their travellers are in an instant – and coordinate their return should the need arise.
Touchless tech and contactless check-in
Thanks to Covid-19, many of the latest tech advancements are around contactless check-in (airlines and hotels), contactless checkout and contactless payments. Not only does it eliminate unwanted contact and frustrating queues but it’s also quick and easy – a big tick in terms of productivity.
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In the same vein, we can expect biometrics like fingerprint recognition, facial recognition and retina scanning to be introduced in airports to facilitate the flow of passengers. In fact, technology developed by SITA (the ‘SITA Smart Path’) allows the passenger to use their face as a boarding pass, minimising the need for contact as the passenger makes their way through the airport.
New Zealand is already making use of “eGates” at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown airports that use biometrics to match the picture of your face in an ePassport with the picture it takes of you at the gate.
Chatbots and 24-hour support
Travel apps have come a long way, and according to Smith the best apps now combine proactive alerts, with conversational chatbots (i.e. fluid and easy to interact with) and 24-hour, human support.
“Ultimately, a travel app needs to be an indispensable tool for those on the road. This means instant alerts if flight times, boarding gates and even baggage collection details change. The ability to confirm information through a handy chat bot – and the ability to be connected to a human being, any time of day or night, should you want to talk to a consultant,” says Smith.