Its 1994. You just left your travel agent’s office with an armful of brochures excited to start planning this year’s vacation. You skip toward your sexy Ford Probe, walkman blaring, and drive home. After a few nights of careful review you settle on your agent’s recommendation: a relaxing trip to the Mayan Riviera. He reminds you that you just got a great deal at only $3,500. Satisfied, you sit back, turn on Friends, and daydream about boarding your flight and leaving the rush behind.

While today, the story above borders on the ridiculous for even the most causal traveler, it highlights two important points: First, my memory of the 90’s isn’t great, and second, that travel has changed…a lot.

In the last two decades, the quickening march of progress has turned your Ford Probe into a Focus, your walkman into a GPS enabled iPhone, your brochure into a website, and that great deal your agent pitched you, well… hindsight can be painful. As for your knowledgable travel agent? They’re now unemployed thanks to our love of algorithms, apps, and connected gadgets. It makes you wonder: What will the future of travel look like?

Travel booking site, Skyscanner, recently released the first of three reports that takes a detailed look at the future of travel in 2024 and outlines key trends to keep an eye on.

The first report, compiled by a team of 56 editors, researchers and futurists, takes an in-depth look at the Booking and Planning process. Here’s a quick overview:

Digital Travel Buddies

The Future of Travel - Digital Travel Buddies

As mobile assistants like Siri, Cortana, and S Voice play a bigger role in our daily lives, many are hard at work expanding their capabilities to enhance the travel experience. From booking flights and hotels, to real-time language translation, to personalized recommendations for every aspect of your trip, it’s clear that by 2024 you can expect your digital travel buddy to be a regular part of the family vacation.

In the 2000s a range of comparison sites emerged to ease the stress of travel planning and booking, but by 2024, our traveler will have a new friend to take the strain out of travel discovery, search and booking: his Digital Travel Buddy.

Virtual Becomes Reality

The Future of Travel - Augmented Fishing

While artificial intelligence may still be a ways off, the era of augmented and virtual reality is already in full swing and its only a matter of time before at least part of your travel is done virtually. I mean, why go to a secluded island resort when your nextgen Google Glass-like product can make you feel as though you’re already there from the comfort of your drab, grey cubicle.

Not sold? Me neither. Thankfully, Skyscanner’s vision for the future of travel is a bit more realistic and still involves ‘real reality’:

His wearable AI connects online with a new generation of “try before you buy” websites operated by travel brands. It returns with a palette of virtual reality samples that allow our traveler to see the sights, hear the sounds, and even feel the landscape, of a variety of different travel experiences.

Semantic Search

The Future of Travel - Semantic Search

Whether we think of it or not, search engines are probably the most used travel resource. The only problem is that the results we find are based on complex algorithms that are only marginally personalized. By 2024, improved search engines will allow each traveller to receive highly individualized results based on personal information, actions, preferences, tone of voice, and even facial expression.

Connected to him via his Digital Travel Buddy, which communicates hyper-personalized preferences from his favorite breakfast food to his gym regime and the stitch count of the cotton sheets on his bed, he uses gestures and voice commands to interact as the tools engage Big Data analytics to compile a selection of ideal vacation packages.

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Click to read the full “Future of Travel 2024” Report


Photos courtesy of SkyScanner