Hailed as the world’s leading business strategist, award-winning expert witness, strategic consultant and professional speaker, Scott Steinberg is among today’s best-known trends experts and futurists, and the bestselling author of “Think Like a Futurist;” “Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty;” and “Fast >> Forward: How to Turbo-Charge Business, Sales, and Career Growth.” The president and CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, his website is FuturistsSpeakers.com.
Digital transformation, geopolitical volatility and supply chain disruption continue to sweep through the MICE and travel industries like a tsunami, bringing with them a tidal wave of change and innovation at every turn. But as countless scrappy organizations who have found ways to thrive despite disruption continue to demonstrate, there are many ways to reengineer the fundamental customer experience (CX) and value they offer to stay one step ahead of the curve. That’s good news, as we explain in the new book, “Think Like a Futurist 2022: The Next Normal,” because experience is everything to tomorrow’s traveler, noting that a superior CX minimizes friction, maximizes efficiency and makes every exchange feel more human.
In short, give your customers a great experience and they won’t just be likelier to hit the road and rave about the times they’ve had to friends and family. They’ll also buy more, be more loyal, and be likelier to engage in repeat business. Bearing this in mind, as I often remind keynote speaking audiences, for businesses looking to adapt to fast-changing business environments, it’s imperative to keep a laser focus on what counts: Finding ways to create customer experiences that audiences will adore, inspire added shopper loyalty and keep travelers coming back for more.
Here, let’s take a closer look at what the future of several fields — including travel, hospitality and events — will hold and, ultimately, how to adapt.
Imagine dropping your bags off at an artificially intelligent airport kiosk, winking at a screen as you stroll right through security, and checking in for a flight just by walking on a plane. Afterwards, upon arrival at your destination, picture unlocking your hotel room just by tapping an app and grabbing a snack from the gift shop with a wave of your hand.
Thanks to new face- and voice-recognition technologies, which eliminate the need for physical documents, manual-identification checks and human interaction, it’s now possible to securely verify your ID and process transactions in literally seconds at a glance.
Already, artificially intelligent and biometric (touchless or spoken word) solutions are transforming the future of travel, to the point that entire airport terminals are now instituting self-service check-in, drop-and-go baggage and automated-checkpoint screening-systems. Capable of providing organizations with detailed insights and analytics into business processes and customer behaviors as well, these tools enable passengers to enjoy shorter wait times, greater convenience, and safer, more intuitive interactions at every turn. They also provide organizations with the business intelligence and predictive capabilities that they need to optimize workflows, cut costs, and minimize overflow and congestion.
Check-ins that occur via text message or with the scan of a QR code. Customer service calls handled by computerized chatbots smart and well-spoken enough to pass for human counterparts. Digital signs that lead you to your guest room or dining area, and virtual reality headsets that let you attend conferences and events with hundreds of colleagues in 3D computer-generated worlds. Going forward, high-tech solutions will lead the way for the future of travel, meaning that if you’re a company looking to play in the space, there’s never been a better time then now to consider upgrading your infrastructure, back-end technology and business plan.
Speaking of eye-popping innovations: Tomorrow’s tourist will soon be able to browse the globe’s most-storied art-galleries in 3D from their smartphones or even insert their face on top of history’s most famous paintings. Alternately, museumgoers will enjoy the option to step right into 360-degree robotically-powered recreations of prehistoric environs, or swim with dolphins and fly to the moon, by donning a virtual reality (VR) headset. From 8K ultra-high-definition remote-video tours to augmented reality (AR) digital pop-ups, rest assured that not only will high-tech tourism soon be on the rise, but we’ll also all enjoy the chance to see the world from a host of fresh high-tech perspectives.
Of course, the rapid rollout of high-speed 5G communications technology (and its ability to quickly move and process massive amounts of data) also promises to further transform the world of events and destinations. Picture enjoying personalized sightseeing experiences where you’re holding your phone camera up to real-world objects, allowing you to pull up interactive games or hi-def streaming multimedia info on them or instantly translate signs into your native language. Now envision hearing stories of timeless tales right from the mouth of history’s most famed figures via lifelike holograms; getting to play your way through 360-degree video simulations of the globe’s most infamous battles; or scanning a museum gallery for hidden high-tech clues that lead you on interactive adventures throughout otherwise unassuming everyday backdrops. Heck, given the degree of immersion tomorrow’s VR devices can conjure up, you’ll soon be able to plop on a headset and see exactly what life was like firsthand during the Middle Ages or Renaissance. Mind you, that’s before we consider the introduction of cutting-edge simulations that let you role play and interact with artificially-intelligence characters of all kinds.
Given growing interest in extended reality (XR) technologies (which blend real-world and digital environments) and metaverse solutions (online, computer-generated environments), it bears reminding: The future of events and entertainment will only get more interesting from here. In other words, technology is quickly helping destinations of all kinds morph from static real-world spaces into interactive virtual playgrounds — and is expanding access to the globe’s top tourist destinations, even to hit the virtual ski slopes or mountainside without leaving your living room.
As you can see, the future already looks bright, even at a cursory glance. Moreover, like we routinely point out, you don’t have to be a futurist to see it coming on either. A little more planning and forethought is all it often takes to adapt your travel, transportation or MICE industry business to capitalize on new and emerging trends. Again, a tidal wave of change is quickly coming to the industry. However, you can learn to be much more successful at surfing, when it comes to surfing, just by preparing for what’s coming next and making a few forward-thinking changes of your own in turn. C&IT