Travel tech takes flight: Top trends to watch in 2020

Travel tech

Technological innovation will further define not only the experience of travelling, but also what it means to travel in 2020. So says Panasonic Avionics, which highlights innovative trends in travel tech such as DNA travel adventures, ecotourism, and cash-free travel and says such cross-pollination will make 2020 an important year shaping the future of flying.

DNA heritage travel 

While family vacations are evergreen, trekking across the globe to learn more about one’s family origins is still a relatively new prospect. By the start of 2019, already some 26 million individuals had taken elective at-home DNA tests. With that number expected to hit 100 million in 2020, DNA pilgrimages are definitely having a moment.

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Last spring, genetics testing company 23andMe and hospitality company Airbnb partnered to cater to heritage travellers, with offerings including travel tips, suggested itineraries and booking information in their country of origin based on their DNA results.

AncestryDNA, meanwhile, partnered with cruise ship lines such as Cunard and Regent Seven Seas Cruises to offer genealogy-themed cruises featuring Ancestry ProGenealogists guest speakers, onboard education sessions and even guided tours of the various ports of call.

Airlines and other travel sector stakeholders who take advantage of this trend should expect to be very busy in the year ahead, notes Panasonic.

Ecotourism

Piggybacking on last year’s trend towards sustainable travelling, ecotourism goes one step further by actively engaging travellers in making a difference in their destination locales.

Whether it’s planting trees, trekking ethically through the jungle, or simply collecting garbage on a remote stretch of beach, ecotourism is hotter than ever. Booking.com’s  latest Sustainable Travel Report found that travellers not only actively seek out eco-friendly airlines, hotels and destinations, but also highly value services and apps that alert them to eco-friendly options and activities at each touchpoint on their journey.

Slow-mo catches up

Whether travellers are inspired by Greta Thunberg’s epic trans-Atlantic boat journey this year or are simply looking for the chance to slow down and enjoy the ride, slower, alternative modes of transportation are expected to be huge in 2020.

In fact, Booking.com’s Travel Predictions 2020 report found that 62 per cent of travellers said they’d prefer a journey where the mode of transportation was part of the experience. Meanwhile, 56 per cent reported that they wouldn’t mind taking longer to get where they are going if they were journeying via a unique method like train, boat, or bicycle.

Cash-free travel

Fuelled by millennials’ aversion to cash (and sometimes even credit cards), the travel industry should expect to see a lot more virtual wallets in the year ahead.

This is partly inspired by cashless experiences in European and Asia-Pacific countries, where mobile wallets are taking the payments sector by storm. For instance, the Japanese government is working toward becoming totally cashless, with an eye to making the upcoming Tokyo Olympics an almost totally cashless experience.

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