Technology and Travel

Travel and Technology      

Yesterday my wife showed me a video which she had received from one of her Whatsapp group. In this video, an enraged passenger was shouting at the top of his voice for His Shatabdi train getting late by a few minutes. I don't know whether that guy was right or wrong, but this started a thought process, how travel has transformed the way we travel and what all changes are knocking at our door.

                   I remember booking tickets for Railways in the 1980s during college days. You have to invariably go to railway station fill up the form and book the ticket, and the irony was that if you are doing any onward journey or want to book a return ticket, you have to submit those forms at home stations only. These forms will travel physically over railway network to the station of onward or return journey. That station will book the ticket and return the confirmation via the same route. For buying my first air ticket in 1994, from Delhi to Goa, I had to go to a Travel agent and he issued me paper tickets for the flight and charged INR 35000 for two return tickets. That was for my Honeymoon trip. Next question is how did I choose this destination. Incidentally, I had been there, so know a bit about this place. Otherwise, how did we use to choose the destination, word of mouth, some travel books, some magazine or newspaper articles anything I am missing??

And what is the scenario today? I can book any flight sitting in the comfort of my home. Recently booked train tickets for a train in Malaysia sitting at home way before the start of the journey. I can book a Hotel, Flight, Train tickets, Taxi, entrance to the tourist places sitting at home. If you have been travelling for past 10 years, the things have changed dramatically. Hotel booking sites spoil you with a choice of properties available and with the competitive prices. Airlines seduce me with the best discounts. Today I can buy the same tickets for half the price of what I paid 25 years ago. I can have images, reviews and other guidance about the place I am interested in.

                     So the technology has changed the travel. It has changed immensely and it has changed permanently. The Internet is the biggest game changer. It has made the travel much easier, faster, cheaper and convenient. It also has made people travel more. 

              The Travel has changed and there are much bigger changes on the way.VR and AI are going to be the biggest game changers. Using VR and apps like google earth, a person can take a virtual tour of the destination he wants to visit. Though the resolution is not that good as of today, but it is bound to improve over tiime. VR is also going to change the way we do bookings. A company called Navitaire has already started the process of linking the booking sites with VR headsets. As per Navitaire website press release

              "The VR experience could change the way travellers shop for and purchase trips, helping airlines and other travel companies become next-generation retailers.
The innovation allows travellers to spin a globe of the world, visit a destination, search for flights, walk through a plane to select their seat, check out different rental cars, and pay for their entire trip—all without leaving virtual reality. "

                    Another game changer is AI or artificial intelligence. For someone who doesn't like to key in the commands, voice commands to Google assistant an Alexa e.g. " Search for a flight to New Delhi", will start the process of searching for best flights, the cheapest ones, best seats available and this will be "As per your personal preference" depending on your past preferences. Rather AI has already crept into our life. Companies are already tracking an individual's behaviour. Have you ever seen that you search for a particular destination on the net and then suddenly the ads about hotels or flights to that destination start appearing on your screen no matter which site you are on. This is AI for you.

            But will all this not take the charm out of travel. I i have already seen Tajmahal on my VR headset, wont't the wow factor of seeing it for the first time be lost. After VR tour I will know what to expect and what not, the excitement of visiting a place for the first time will be lost for me. Though a prebooked hotel is convenient, but serching a hotel in a small place, checking the room physically, negotiating a bit, and then finally saying " Okay we will take it " is more fun and I love it. Please do send your reactions in comments section. Till ten keep travelling!!!!!!

all pics are from pexels

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