The future of technology has arrived and it’s making life easier.
There’s a lot of technology out there, with more products entering the marketplace every day. Technology is helping people smooth their path through life – from organising your travel, to making flying increasingly seamless and using voice to control your life and home. We’re excited to see so many of our aviation and hotel partners working to constantly improve the business travel experience.
It's helping you organise your travel
Even the shortest trip involves a flurry of paperwork, from flight tickets through to hotel bookings. Not to mention ground transport, restaurant bookings etc.
For business travel, AI chatbot apps such as Sam :], FCM’s 24-hour travel assistant, are ensuring business travel runs smoothly. For personal trips, travel organiser apps such as TripIt or TripCase will forward all your travel confirmation emails to a single email address, which then sends you a digital itinerary. As well as tracking your reward points and miles, some travel organiser apps will even notify you of a flight’s gate change before the airline’s own app.
It's protecting your data on the road
In addition to protecting yourself and your valuables, it’s important to ensure the safety of your data while travelling.
Dopping your guard for just a moment may allow your personal information – such as credit card details and passwords – to be accessed by someone or something. The biggest danger is using public WiFi – safer options include a portable router to set up your own WiFi hotspot or using a VPN (virtual private network). All devices should also be password protected and have tracking tools installed where possible.
It's eliminating hotel check-in hassles
Big hotel chains such as Starwood and Hilton are rapidly rolling out keyless check-in at their properties in a bid to remove that last hiccup of business travel.
If you’re a member of the Hilton Honors program you can check-in and select your room from a digital floor plan from a mobile device, tablet or computer. And further customise your stay by purchasing a room upgrade and requesting amenities to be delivered to your room before arrival.
Many hotels are following suit so look out for check-in improvements during your next stay!
It's making flying increasingly seamless
Many airports are embracing new biometric scanning technology so advanced that it will even lead to the demise of the recently installed SmartGates that allow passengers to self-process through passport control.
Sydney Airport plans to link facial-recognition technology with every stage of a passenger’s journey through the airport terminal, reports Australian Business Traveller.
Imagine completing baggage drop, passing security screening and clearing passport control without a physical passport! It will even be possible to enter lounges without having to show any documentation.
It’s enabling more efficient use of your time
Project management apps have come an incredibly long way in recent years.
One of the most popular project-management tools is Trello, an online collaborative workspace that’s useful for both business and personal tasks. PC Mag calls it “eye-catching and fun”.
Toggl is a time-tracking tool that includes project creation, client and team management, multiple workspaces and reporting tools. Rescue Time keeps track of the programs and websites you spend most time on – and shows the hours and days of the week when you’re at your most productive.
PC Mag calls task-management app Todoist “one of the most feature-rich task management apps on the market”. Although an Apple version of Todoist is available, many Apple fans prefer to use that company’s Things.
For those whose free will completely disappears in the face of online distractions, Freedom.to takes you completely offline for up to eight hours.
It's reimagining servies through automation
Traditionally an employer of large numbers of human beings, hotels are now discovering the delights of automation.
Guests at Intercontinental Group’s Crowne Plaza San Jose who request that toothpaste they’ve forgotten to pack or a late-night club sandwich will open their door to see Dash, a one metre tall Relay robot by Savioke.Suitably for a hotel in Silicon Valley, Dash delivers at the touch of a button.
Hotel chains are also following Airbnb’s lead in using analytics to be more relevant and personal each time a customer visits their website.
It’s letting you experience destinations before you book
Shipments of virtual reality headsets are expected to grow by more than 400% between 2017 and 2021 – and the biggest travel brands can’t wait to make full use of this potential.
Marriott has already used Oculus Rift headsets to let potential customers experience Hawaiian beaches and views of London from a skyscraper while standing in a booth in New York.
And Cathay Pacific is using 360-degree video to let flyers look around the airline’s first-class cabin and interact with the layout.
It’s enhancing and personalising what your devices see
Augmented reality (AR) is the placing of a graphical overlay over existing locations using a device’s built-in camera. Global phenomenon Pokémon Go is a great example of just how compelling this can be.
AR will show you what your cruise ship cabin will look like before you book or what a hotel lobby will look like when decorated for your company’s convention.
By overlaying arrows on your phone’s display, it can also help you navigate around unfamiliar destinations.
It’s helping you stay on top of expense
Tracking business expenses is a bittersweet process. The good news is it’s always good to get a cash injection into your bank account; the bad news is that it’s incredibly fiddly and there’s always that nagging doubt you may not have claimed everything that’s claimable.
Expensify is a free app that not only tracks expenses but also mileage and billable time. In addition, it can scan receipts and create expense reports, even as PDFs. You can even sync it with your credit cards so that expenses are pulled in automatically.
For businesses, FCM Expense not only streamlines expense management, it lets travellers process their expense claims on their mobile while travelling.
It’s allowing your voice to control your life and home
In the same way that having an animated conversation on public transport by yourself has become perfectly acceptable, you can now mutter away in your own home at an inanimate object safe in the knowledge that you’re at the cutting edge of technology.
Amazon, Google and Apple each have their own voice-controlled device, which allow you to do everything from play your favourite music to ordering pizza. Tech publication CNET says Amazon’s Echo “may be the closest thing we’ll get to a Star Trek computer at home”.
Marriott is testing Amazon’s Alexa to see how guests could request services, learn about the local area, set an alarm or ask what the weather will be like. Perfect for when you’re travelling!
It’s coaching you to reduce your stress levels
The ancient relaxation practice of meditation – and its popular modern-day cousin, mindfulness – has adapted surprisingly well to the latest technology. There are many apps out there to make life on the road less stressful.
The Calm and Headspace apps teach you basic techniques of meditation by offering an initial free guided program for a week or so, after which you’ll have to pay a monthly or annual fee that unlocks more resources.
For those who want to take a step up, the 10% Happier app (currently Apple only) includes access to a real live meditation coach (not a robot) who will text you straight after you enter your phone number.
It’s making your suitcases smarter
Suitcases have barely altered for centuries but all that is about to change.
Luggage from established names such as Delsey as well as tech-savvy start-ups can charge your phone and devices; use a built-in weight sensor system that syncs with airlines to avoid excess baggage fees; and let you know its location (for example by using GPS technology and a sim card).
German brand Rimowa has a high-tech offering with a screen that displays your luggage tags (although it only works with limited airlines and airports at the moment).
And for adults who always wished they too could scoot around an airport like kids on a brightly coloured Trunki, the motorised Modobag claims to get you to your airport gate three times quicker than walking. It also boasts a device charger and “precision brakes for stopping safely”.