When CodeGen first launched in 1999, we entered a travel industry that technology was already steering in a new direction. In the run up to the new millennium, web commerce and metasearch had encouraged an internet-investing frenzy and e-commerce was embedded within everyday life.

The world suddenly became a whole lot smaller.

Fast-forward 17 years and not only have we embraced the power of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) but we rely on them more than we realise. From the now mainstream in-car navigation devices, online banking, smartphones and on-demand streaming, there’s no doubt that such advancements have revolutionised our daily lives and shaped our ‘always on’ culture.

You only need consider the typical start to a holiday to see how technological developments have transformed travel. You use your phone to book an Uber to the airport and on route place an online order for a Starbucks coffee. A quick glance at your smartwatch mid-sip reveals the flight is on schedule and the weather looks far cheerier where you’re headed.

You’ve checked in online so on arrival at the airport you go straight to the self-service baggage drop. At security you scan your mobile boarding pass and hold your breath as you get scanned by the full body x-ray machine. In the departure lounge you make some contactless purchases with your smart phone before heading to the gate. All that’s left is to take advantage of the in-flight Wi-Fi before breezing through the biometric kiosks to clear passport control at the other end.

With countries like Australia already moving towards paperless passports, it won’t be long before we can add digital ID – where data is securely embedded into phones or in the cloud - as well as smart baggage tracking into the mix.

In short, what most travellers might have perceived as a futuristic dream when we first started providing next-generation travel solutions has swiftly become the new reality. Future proofing is the mainstay of any successful travel technology business.

Technology follows an exponential growth rate. Businesses striving for greater efficiency, more economical operations and a competitive edge, drive never-ending advancements. Importantly, in travel technology the customer has to remain at the heart of developments to ensure that the success of the sector continues on an upward trajectory.

So what does the next decade of travel hold?

When it comes to holiday inspiration, it’s been a few years since travel brands sought to wow with virtual reality headsets. However, it was this summer’s Pokémon GO success that helped augmented reality go mainstream.

Drones and 360° video continue to revolutionise tourism marketing. Hotel businesses as well as tourist boards were quick off the mark to capitalise on the opportunities they offer. As drones begin to integrate AI capabilities, the impact on the travel sector will be extensive.

On the ground, the potential for self-driving vehicles is yet to be fully realised. There is no doubt that we will reach a time when transport becomes smarter, safer and fuelled by renewable energy.

As mechatronic experts, one of our projects in recent years has been using our learnings of emerging technologies to create the first fully electronic supercar; Vega. For this we’ll be incorporating the latest AI-based software, including autonomous navigation. It’s therefore little wonder that taxi companies sought advice from leading AI and robotics experts as they competed to offer the first driverless service.

Consumers are increasingly comfortable with the move towards a self-service culture, accelerated by the airlines and car hire companies offering DIY check-in kiosks that minimise human interaction when travelling.

In the hospitality world, meanwhile, multilingual robots began checking holidaymakers into hotels around the world in early 2015. It’s just a matter of time before AI advances to a point where robotics is even more user-friendly, recognising guests on arrival and linking seamlessly with back-end databases to offer a more personalised and intelligent experience.

A challenge for the travel sector is to truly understand an individual’s personal preferences, deliver more customised recommendations and realise the full commercial potential. CodeGen provides Advanced Machine Intelligence solutions that can simplify the process but increase conversion rates by providing relevant content and review based recommendations within the booking cycle.

With AI becoming better integrated into bot programming, problem-solving capabilities can be fine tuned and bots can become even more useful by searching for the products and services personalised to your preferences.

Embracing bots demonstrates how software can complement traditional customer service to meet advancing expectations. As airlines and hotels race to provide their own chat bots to handle customer enquiries and bookings, the big players work on perfecting their human voice simulators so that soon it will be impossible to tell if you’re dealing with a person or an Artificial Intelligence.

What’s being called the fourth industrial revolution brings together digital, physical and biological systems. With advances in technology we’re beginning to have machines that can augment us in all sorts of interesting ways such as helping the paralysed walk again and recreating bone fragments. With NFC chips inserted under our skin the way we travel will be transformed, giving us the ability to unlock doors, control our electronic devices and make contactless payments with a simple wave of the hand. The very idea of the human being some sort of natural concept is going to change.

Only one thing is certain. The incredible rate of change means the way we travel in future will evolve significantly from how we do today. So it’s down to every business to make sure it’s got the forward-thinking software in place for the new stage of the technological journey.

Visit codegen.co.uk for more information.

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