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The Eight Mega Trends in Tourism

'Which trends, technologies and developments do you need to know and how to combine in order to be successful in the future?' That was the topic of the keynote speech by Nils Müller, CEO of TrendOne, at the Virtual ITB Convention.

“Welcome to a journey into the future“, said Nils Müller addressing his online viewers at the ITB Virtual Convention. In his keynote speech on the ’Top 8 Trends in Tourism & Travel’ he offered a glimpse of the trends, technologies and developments that will shape success in the future.

The CEO of TrendOne identified Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a mega trend. “Over the past ten years we have seen massive progress in AI“, he said, and gave examples: AI had beaten the world’s best chess and poker players and now led the field in facial recognition, voice recognition and instantaneous translations. AI had the ability to make cities safer. It facilitated driverless vehicles and autonomous technology that made travelling easier, such as the world’s first AI-controlled robotic suitcase. Using GPS tracking this was able to follow its owner everywhere they went and capable of detecting obstacles.

Another major trend Müller identified was the development of superhuman capabilities. In his role as a futurist he said that Augmented Reality (AR) gave us superhuman faculties and opened up new horizons. “Virtual workplaces, conferences and meetings are what the future is about. Why should we travel around the whole world when AR can let us work with colleagues from Singapore, New York and Berlin in a multi-user environment“, Müller said. AR was currently still restricted to corporations, but over the next few years it would become an important tool for mainstream users. Müller gave Amazon Alexa goggles as an example. Using an integrated microphone Alexa can respond to voice commands over a loudspeaker inside a spectacle arm. “Users can get hands-free orientation and information whenever they want. Ideal for travelling”, he said.

Trend number three, new experiences, would revolutionise travel experiences, he said. Müller presented the Autonomous Hotel Suite. Seated in a driverless car featuring a hotel room guests would no longer need to search for accommodation. Nils Müller presented images of a prototype from Canada to demonstrate that this was not a pipe dream. One example of new travel experiences that had already become reality was the small town of Bad Birnbach in Bavaria, where driverless buses had been transporting passengers from A to B since last year. New experiences were also about preparing for a trip, he said. According to Müller, Virtual Reality (VR) was the next technological step forward in travel preparations: “We can put on VR goggles, open an app and take a look at our hotel room or take a virtual tour of our prospective destination.“

Trend number four, neo sustainability, represented a new sustainability concept. Müller explained this by looking at 3D printing. He showed a personalised Adidas running shoe featuring a sole created by a 3D printer. “This way, soles can be tailored to an athlete’s individual damping requirements“, said Müller. “We can print electronic components too“, he added. The University of Washington had already designed a mini-drone using 3D printing, for instance. Other examples included the Airbus-designed CityCopter, and flying taxis for urban transport with no traffic jams.

Nils Müller used the example of a humanoid robot to illustrate trend five, connectivity. “Robots can assist us on our travels too. They can carry our baggage in a hotel and do reception duties.” To illustrate, he introduced his colleague Misty: “This robot operates in our Hamburg offices, is extremely easy to program and works at the reception desk.“

Afterwards, Nils Müller explained why distrust in society was a growing trend. He played a video featuring an AI-controlled, matchbox-sized drone. The only thing distinguishing it technologically from other drones already on the market was an explosive device that it carried. Using facial recognition it was capable of remotely targeting and killing a person. “More and more people are becoming aware of the negative impact that drones can have on our lives”, Müller said.

Datafication represented another trend, the transition from “big data to huge data“. According to Müller, data volumes will grow rapidly in the order of zettabytes over the next 10 to 15 years. He predicted that “for our children this will be a perfectly normal world. They will grow up with mini-robots teaching them.”

Urbanisation was a mega trend that posed new challenges for the entire human race, he said. According to a UN World Population Forecast, the world’s urban population is predicted to increase from 4.3 billion (2017) to 6.8 billion by 2050. “It means there will be another 260 mega cities“, said Müller, taking a look at possible scenarios in the future. “All these mega cities will be super smart. IHS/Forbes forecasts that by 2028 100 billion devices will be connected to the internet. Every safety component, mobile device, shared bike, simply everything will be interconnected – without any hardware, because software will take on completely new forms.” Selfie drones were one example, Nils Müller pointed out. They were already beginning to take selfies in place of smartphones. Users now no longer needed to hold a device in their hand. Drones could follow people around for 30 minutes, on a city sightseeing tour or outdoor activities in nature.

Concluding his keynote speech Nils Müller outlined the idea of a future mindset for the next ten years, based on vision, responsibility, culture, creativity and agility. He gave examples of how digital technology could be responsibly used to control “maximum tourism“. An offline translation tool for instantaneously translating from English to Japanese or Spanish, thus removing language barriers on one’s travels, was already an option.

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