Meet a future tourist by Ian Yeoman
AR will alter our understanding of reality influencing our decisions on travels and adventures. Moreover, our preferences and priorities will change as we see the birth of new types of tourism, experiences and destinations. Ian Yeoman, the ‘world's only futurologist specializing in travel’ was interviewed by Focusingfuture.com to offer insight on these trends.
as the future tourism industry
Augmented reality is widely agreed to be the prime future venue for most of our activities. As available technological hardware and software prepare to exploit its potential, AR is also being adopted by industries at large in planning future projects. The tourism industry is no different. A number of AR-based applications have been developed for the Google Glass platform to enhance traveller experience and promote destinations. For example, Hudway-Headsup display tracks the GPS position of the device and navigates the directions on the road. This way, one does not have to look away to another screen or rely on voice control to stay on the right way. Similarly, the ViewRanger application gives options of several trekking selections in popular countryside destinations. The screen meshes the actual view with suggested trails, keeping the experience exciting and informative.
Some cities, realizing the potential of employing AR to enhance the experience of tourists, have come up with applications for mobile phone platforms as well. CityTour, RA Guided tour and Virtual City Games are such examples. The latter takes the AR model further by infusing games within the city’s map, allowing the players to discover the city while playing. More recently, Barcelona city council collaborated with Microsoft to offer customized city tour plans around the city based on weather, traffic conditions and preferences of the traveller.
Given that Google is yet to shelf the ‘Google Glass’ project, and as AR technology continues to become more efficient, the tourism industry will see much more interactive applications on the platform. Apple’s ARkit and Google’s ARCore have already opened the arena for developers to exploit AR, and the platform’s ability has been the highlight of new hardware launches. It is hence safe to say that they will revolutionize the way we interact with reality, changing our understanding of ‘experiences’.
of the future
To gather a more in-depth understanding of how AR would be employed by the tourism industry of the future and other insights, FocusingFuture.com interviewed global leading industry futurist Ian Yeoman, Associate Professor at University of Wellington and author of ‘Tomorrow’s tourism’.
When asked to offer insight on the potential of AR replacing the need to physically go to places, Ian Yeoman insists that physical travel would remain a priority. The current developments of AR, described above, would mostly be used in the marketing field of the tourism industry. Taking advantage of big data and emotional analytics, the companies will design specific calendars for travellers which will maximize their experience utility. Moreover, the industry will adopt the models set by Bookings.com and AirBnB, where the interaction will be more personal. Tourists would not spend more money on hotel rooms with balcony views but will instead resort to minimal spending and expectations on lodging, devoting more time, money and energy on the experiences derived from the trip.
the touristic landscape
So far as drivers for global tourism go, Ian Yeoman insists that Wealth will be the core driver as 3.2 billion people across the world will belong to the middle class. Moreover, 88% of the next billion will belong to Asia, according to Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institute, that will greatly impact global tourism. Other trends like technology and resources will automatically progress as wealth increases. However, how the market reacts will differ depending on the overall societal attitude. For example, given the emphasis on sustainability, the tourism industry will move towards catering to the influx of tourist activity by offering environmentally friendly options and experiences. This, in turn, will invite inventors and entrepreneurs to penetrate the market and offer better alternatives. According to Yeoman, already 80% of tourism is done through SMEs and the barriers to entry will remain negligible in the future. Hence, the tourism industry will remain dynamic and will let entrants offer newer opportunities in line with competitive prevalent trends having a positive impact on the economy.
Speaking about the future preferences, Yeoman employs a new term to describe their attitude: fluid tourist. Such a customer will be more up-to-date on matters, possessing a significant amount of wealth which allows him/her to travel around the world for different experiences. Yeoman believes that the future tourist cannot be boxed into only liking certain adventures instead they would be more fluid in their preferences shaping their plans with the likelihood of newer experiences. The fluid tourist hence will be as excited to spend a weekend in Vegas as to spend a week for philanthropy in some exotic settings. For him or her, a luxurious vacation would imply an experience that is rare and hard to get. ‘Time and enrichment’ would be more important than materialistic travel pursuits, according to Yeoman. In that sense, the future tourism industry will shape itself around experience instead of destinations. One such indulgence would be wellness tourism.
The preferred choice for tourism
Wellness tourism will form an essential part of the industry as ageing and wealth come to action. The Global Wellness Institute, in their report on Wellness tourism, pointed out that the projected rate of growth of wellness tourism is more than 50% faster than the growth in overall global tourism. The future tourists will not only seek indulgences in wellness techniques employed in exotic customs but will also embrace them wholly. While the traveller of today seeks relaxation alone, the traveller of tomorrow will find wellness, both physical and spiritual, as an essential part of their retreats. This trend, in turn, will redefine luxury travel, offering unique and very exclusive experiences and treatments. Boutique destination agencies such as Onirikos, for example, seek to offer ‘non-googleable options’ to their customers. The experience of travel hence goes beyond solely the material product on offer. “We offer unique access to some of the most unavailable and undiscovered experiences one can imagine,” says Luigi Bajona, Partner at the firm.
The future of travel is all about experiences. As future generations have more disposable income with them, the trends on travelling will increase, prompting the industry to respond by unique travelling opportunities. The market dynamics will revamp what we understand as luxury today and will give birth to a new type of tourist: the fluid tourist.