Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic
Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic

Reflection, reassurance: Tech reboot to tourism

Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic
PUBLISHED ON JUN 22, 2021 11:46 PM IST

Cases have dipped, restrictions have eased, time to grab a suitcase and hit the road. But the fear of a third wave is palpable. Exercising caution while travelling is fast becoming the new norm. After months in lockdown, we are ready to go but the virus has forced us to lean even more heavily on the technology run digi-sphere to work, play, socialize and transact remotely while trapped in our four walls. But they say, a wise man adapts to circumstances, rather quickly. So how does technology help tourism? With safety and health security becoming of paramount importance, a number of digitals tools, ranging from online booking platforms to luggage trackers are being fast incorporated and adopted to make the travelling experience more efficient and pleasant for the customer.

Aviral Gupta, chief strategy officer, Zostel, says, ”With scannable QR codes to contactless hotel check-in capabilities, mobile room keys, touchless payments, and in-app ordering and appointments-booking, the hospitality sector is undergoing technological transformations.”

With travel technologies such as sensors, RFID and NFC tags, facial recognition and modern biometrics, touchless services have become an integral part of airports and travel hubs, and they promise better safety and control over passenger traffic.

Mayank Jha, founder,Travel by Aura, believes touchless technology boosts the confidence of guests, staff and management and is the need of the hour. He says, “Customer experience is all that matters and, in such times, where personalization is key and safety is crucial, technology plays a major role in ensuring a never-like-before travel experience.”

“The consumer has become increasingly dependent on mobile phones to  take all purchasing actions quickly and efficiently. Our smartphones are now more capable than ever before and these gadgets are now slowly replacing more traditional methods,” Akshayraj Singh Shaktawat, hotelier and lifestyle influencer.

It is certain that the future of tourism will rely on digital and technological tools such as chatbots to make reservations, health passports, fast, efficient and fully-customizable tour planning platforms and artificial intelligence. Travel technologies like IoT and big data are probably the most important sources of innovations in travel.

Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic
Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic

“Cloud-based IoT (Internet of Things) softwares will further augment and streamline operational complexities like coordinating housekeeping systems, assigning staff duties and confirming compliance with newly-enhanced cleanliness standards. The IoT revolves around the idea that virtually any physical object in a hotel, including room thermostats, TVs and door keys can be controlled and monitored remotely,” says Gupta.

Importance of technology in tourism

The pandemic has also encouraged the rise of alternative tourism experiences, such as video sightseeing and virtual reality tours around world-famous destinations. Navleen Kaur, Travel and lifestyle influencer, says,” I feel Artificial intelligence has changed the whole game because now the VR ( Virtual reality) has made it so easy for travellers, to know and see about a particular place  even before reaching there, giving travellers a glimpse into the experiences they hope to have. Like, I can go through a website and have a 360-degree view of accommodations, popular tourist destinations and famous food joints.”

Innovations in tourism industry are happening at lighting speed. Thermal video screening technology has been another innovation amid the pandemic, being utilized particularly at airports to detect passengers with elevated temperatures, one of the initial symptoms of COVID-19. This technology will better protect guests and employees from infected individuals by identifying and isolating them early on.

“From IoT to AI, every technology is working to enhance the traveller's experience and it’s working. It’s not just going to be the future but the present of us tech-savvy travelomaniacs very soon,” sums up Jha. Don’t be surprised to see a robot welcoming you instead of a human very soon. 

Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic
Touchless services at airports and hotels such as menus un QR codes, online luggage trackers and mobile room keys have all changed the way we travel in the pandemic

Benefits of technology tourism

Safe practices

High-end technology tools such as IoT, robots, drones and endless applications of AI will help in reducing the risks associated with the spread of the virus.

More transparency

Digital tools such as COVID tracker apps, interactive web maps on booking platforms will enable people to stay up-to-date with ever-changing restrictions and regulations and make their travel plans accordingly.

Reduced human to human contact

With social distancing the norm for the near future, robotics technology is the way forward. From  pre-screening, greeting guests to provide information and cleaning and luggage handling, they have the potential to limit human connection but encourage safety of each person.

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