custom embroidered polo shirt Wearable technology and travel
Hotel SearchWhile wearable technology has grabbed the attention of the travel industry at several times in recent years (perhaps most memorably with the 2015 release of the first Apple Watch), various barriers and limitations have kept such devices from having any significant impact. Recently, however, the constraints have begun to fade, and with the adoption of wearables on the rise, they are poised to invade the industry, both from a consumer perspective and behind the scenes at airports, hotels, theme parks and cruise ships.
Some proprietary technologies notably Walt Disney World Resort’s MagicBand have met with success in recent years. That, in turn, has inspired other wearable devices, such as Carnival Corp.’s Ocean Medallion and Universal Orlando’s TapuTapu, which enable highly personalized guest experiences. Those technologies are all location or vacation specific devices.
Meanwhile, applications that work anywhere on smartwatches and other wearable third party devices have been limited by slow consumer adoption. But with the rate of consumer acceptance increasing and new types of wearables coming onto the market in the form of everything from device embedded clothing to earbuds, location agnostic devices are starting to come into their own.
Wearables are also the subject of some experimentation in both the consumer electronics realm and for use by the industry workforce, such as in airport operations. Experts are keeping their attention focused on that space and waiting for it to develop further in the near future.”I do think that wearable devices will play a growing role in how we travel, in how we interact with travel brands and in how travel brands market, sell and serve us,” said , industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group.
Wearable use increasing
One oft cited issue with wearables, especially with smartwatches, is slow consumer adoption coupled with technical limitations, such as the early iterations of watches requiring a connected smartphone.
Even so, more travelers are expected to purchase wearables in the coming years. Traveler Technology Survey Sixth Edition,” published in March 2016, 13% of travelers own smartwatches, up from 9% in 2014. Seventeen percent of travelers own fitness trackers, and 57% of the travelers surveyed said they planned to buy a wearable device within the next few years.
“They’re increasingly popular, but they are still niche devices,” Harteveldt said.
The Ocean Medallion wearable technology will enable Carnival Corp. to personalize its guests’ vacation experiences.
The true vision of wearables in travel is to take a consumer’s experience (or, from an operational standpoint, a worker’s experience) and make it frictionless.
While traveling might once have been a difficult task, wearables are supposed to simplify that experience,
whether through pushing a gate change notification directly to a user’s watch or, as some future technologies seem to promise, telling a traveler about that gate change via smart headphones.
Pedro Sousa, director of marketing for low cost carrier EasyJet, said, “All tools, all computers, all hardware, everything is just a tool to make life simpler and easier, so [it is] the same with wearables.”
Norm Rose, senior technology and corporate market analyst at Phocuswright, predicted that travel likely will not be the industry that drives wearable adoption.
“Having the ability to look at your watch and receive navigation through the airport logically makes a lot of sense, but you have to have the watch,” Rose said. “That’s where travel is not going to be the industry, necessarily, that’s going to drive wearable adoption. We’re only going to take advantage of wearable adoption as consumers do that.”One area in travel where wearables have thrived is in proprietary technologies such as Disney World’s MagicBand, which acts as the guests’ room key, theme park ticket and FastPass+ ticket, enabling users to avoid long queues by using separate attraction lines that all but eliminate wait times. They also enable users to make payments at stores and restaurants on property.
Rose called the MagicBand “the most successful wearable launch” in the industry. “That’s a specific use case . in which the wearable, the band, is just perfect.”According to , senior vice president of Walt Disney World Parks, the company has distributed more than 29 million MagicBands, making it the world’s fourth largest wearables distributor.
Offering guests a wearable that replaces many items they previously would have had to carry, ranging from credit cards to room keys to park tickets, was part of a larger guest experience strategy that began in 2009 2010, MacPhee said. The bands work in concert with FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app to enable guests to plan trips in advance, including dining and attraction visits.
“We’ve always known that our ability to bring great Disney storytelling to life . is always going to be a critical investment focus,” MacPhee said. “But what we realized, I think actually proactively, was that we really needed to focus in on today’s guest experience in the here and now. We kind of challenged ourselves to look ourselves in the mirror and identify in the guest experience where are the lines, hassles, barriers and friction points that exist today and how can we smooth them out and make them better. And then how can we continue to advance the guest experience to be really driven by guest choice.”
The MagicBand work in concert with FastPass+ and the My Disney Experience app to enable guests to plan trips in advance.