The future traveler to London, Paris or Jerusalem may easily plan a trip on the go, avoid changing currencies, and don augmented-reality goggles to see how the bustling alleyways of the Old City looked 200 years earlier.
This is the future imagined by Priceline Group Inc.’s Executive Vice President of Group Operations Maelle Gavet in a world where people are no longer booking tickets six months in advance, and the largest growing market of millennials arrives at a destination with only a vague notion of what they want to do.
“The key word in the travel industry now is ‘explore,’” said Gavet, adding that Priceline, through Booking.com, rolled out a new smartphone product called Booking Experiences in July in Amsterdam, that helps travelers go some way to achieve this.
Booking Experiences works within Booking.com’s local smartphone apps to send travelers a pop-up notification on their devices as they walk past attractions, asking if they want to reserve a ticket and bypass queues. Last week, Booking Experiences went live in Paris, Rome, London and Dubai. A rollout in New York and Orlando is planned for later this year.
“We are seeing interest in the product so far. More and more customers are taking advantage of it,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.
Priceline is working to maintain revenue growth reported in the last two quarters and face down challenges that include new players such as Google stepping up presence in the market, as technology plays a larger role in how young people arrange travel.
The 17 to 34-year-old age group is expected to spend more on travel services through 2017 than any other age group, Expedia Media Solutions said in a February blog post. A Priceline survey concluded that almost half the world’s millennials would use digital headsets to preview a destination they are planning to travel to.
“Augmented reality will allow people to go into a city, and as they walk around get information on their glasses. And at some point, as you go through a building, the glasses will be able to show you how the building you are in looked 200 years ago, creating a completely new layer of tourism,” said Gavet.
Artificial intelligence software is also helping the travel industry “provide content relevant to a specific user and allows for a smoother booking process,” said Gavet. Automatically listing only hotels or airplane tickets in the user’s price range is one example of this.
With technology at the forefront of the industry, travel startups raised $1 billion in the third quarter of this year through Sept. 21., a 72 percent jump over the previous three-month period, a CB Insights blog post said last week. The most well funded include AirBnB, which raised $555.5 million this month and travel search site Skyscanner, a British startup unicorn based in Scotland.
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