Business travel has changed dramatically over the course of the last quarter of a century but what does the future have in store? Rochelle Jayawardena, group marketing manager for the Business Travel Show, talks about what we can expect on the next leg of the journey.
We’re such consummate travellers these days, we hardly bat an eye about researching, booking or taking trips. We have technology to help us every step of the way right at our fingertips, yet, it didn’t used to be like that.
When Business Travel Show was founded in 1994, travel was a completely different beast – an analogue version of the smart, technology-driven sector it is today. Everything was printed – boarding passes, train tickets, itineraries and hotel keys were the size of door handles (sometimes, they were door handles).
There were mobile phones and laptops, but Google ‘Nokia 2140’ and ‘IBM ThinkPad 360c’ and you’ll see how un-business-traveller-friendly they were. So, instead of catching up with email on that long-haul business trip, it seems the business traveller of the day simply chilled out and lit up. Yep, that’s right, smoking wasn’t banned on international flights until 2000.
Since then, we’ve welcomed budget airlines, the sharing economy, NDC, OBTs, OTAs, VR, AR, AI and a whole host of other acronyms to the industry. Eurostar and the very first online travel agent were both launched in 1994. EasyJet took off in 1995; the first mid-air wi-fi was introduced in 2000, biometric passports started driving us mad in 2006. Apple blindsided us with the iPhone in 2007. Airbnb cropped up a year later, and Uber and 4G revolutionised taxi bookings in 2009.
It’s amazing how much innovation has been crammed into such a relatively short space of time. And, what of the future? The Hyperloop, supersonic – even galactic – travel, super-MagLev trains, driverless cars and autonomous helicopters are all hurtling towards us to make travel faster and frictionless. Google translate will help travellers out on the road. holograms will encourage us to travel less and meet virtually; robots, facial and voice recognition will transform the way we search, book and check-in. So that’s what to expect on the arrivals board, but passports and cash are next up for departures.
If you are looking to attend the Business Travel Show, make sure to visit the PA Life stand.