Tech by VICE

A Connected World Through IoT Will Usher in the Future of Tourism and Travel

The future of travel is faster, easier, and more intelligent with IoT technology.

by Ben Dickson
May 31 2016, 2:04pm

Dubai Airport: Flickr joiseyshowaa

There's no arguing that the Internet of Things is improving the quality of urban life. Countless internet-connected objects scattered across cities are enabling us to sense and analyze life patterns like never before, leading to more efficient use of resources–reducing costs, consumption, stress, and congestion.

The benefits of IoT technology are in line with what most tourists and travelers are looking for–mobility, efficiency, and convenience. Most tourists will take their smartphone and other connected devices with them on their travels. This creates an exceptional opportunity for the hospitality and transportation industries to provide them with an enhanced yet authentic experience, made possible through the deployment of IoT-based services that seamlessly connect everything–from travel services, to hotels, and tourist attractions.

Tourism is increasing at record rates, with outbound tourists in countries like China boosting the global economy. Photo: Wikicommons.

This tech is providing a glorious vision for the future of travel–a streamlined affair where tourists can enjoy the pleasures of a trip without the stresses and inconveniences of being in unfamiliar territory. This is a welcome reprieve from the logistical nightmares that countless people encounter as they traipse around the globe.

The IoT-enhanced experience starts at the airport or other transportation hub, where it can help remove much of the rub that comes with flights and traveling. Travelers will use smart, sensor-embedded suitcases to track their belongings and avoid the frustration that comes with misplaced luggage. Sensors installed across airports can provide travelers with directions and tips, and help them find their way to their flight. And for the late passengers, NFC beacons will enable gate agents to locate them and expedite their departure.

During the journey, IoT devices will gather and analyze data from the traveler's experience in order to improve it. Relevant information and offers will be presented based on whether the tourist is on the way to the airport, halfway through their flight, or have arrived at the destination.

After a tiring flight, travelers will be welcomed at an enhanced hotel. The lodgings have already been booked through a smartphone app. Electronic keys sent to guests' mobile devices become activated when they cross the hotel's geo-fence, and smart locks with NFC readers will identify the user's key and grant access when tapped by the phone.

NFC technology will allow for streamlined user experiences. Photo: Flicker- Sam Churchill

Inside the hotel suite, a host of smart sensors embedded in coffee machines, mirrors, robo-butlers, and light bulbs analyze guest proximity and movement patterns in order to personalize the environmental conditions such as room lighting and temperature. Machine-learning enhanced suites tailor the experience as guests trigger sensors and interact with connected objects and their habits become discernable. Room preferences and guest data are stored in the cloud to be reloaded for returning visitors.

As tourists set out to explore the city and its attractions, IoT technology will streamline the process. Hanging from lamp posts, sitting in parks and gardens, stuck to the roofs of buses, and embedded in the asphalt covering parking lots, IoT sensors are there to help tourists locate and find information about anything and everything they need when looking through the lens of their smartphone cameras. These sensors collect data about tourist habits and reactions to different attractions in order to determine patterns and optimize the experience.

IoT is not only helping tourism agencies improve their customer service and increase their revenue, it is also helping visitors of smart cities discover surprising ways to save money on transportation, attractions, tours, hotels and purchases.

When tourists go shopping, IoT provides brick-and-mortar retailers with the kind of real-time information that online stores always have, enabling them to offer higher value to their customers. Retailers can use a mix of connected devices and customer data to better understand the needs and preferences of customers and tailor promotions and offers for the visiting tourist. NFC and mobile payment gateways remove much of the complexity that is attributed to paying for goods while traveling–from on-the-spot currency conversion to greater security when making purchases.

IoT technologies can make shopping easier and more secure, especially for international travelers. Photo: Flicker- Christine und Hagen Graf

All of this is possible with today's IoT technology, and the implementation of this tech is becoming more ubiquitous every day. Tomorrow's possibilities are even more enticing, but the deployment of IoT ecosystems for tourism and travel industries come with their own caveats, especially in the domains of security and privacy, scalability, performance, power consumption, and environmental issues. Not addressing these challenges can eventually backfire and yield unwanted results. Comprehensive IoT technologies and resources such as those found in the Intel® IoT Developer Program can help achieve maximum functionality while minimizing the unwanted tradeoffs.

Security and privacy issues are chief among the difficulties riddling the IoT industry, especially at the consumer level. Tourists and travelers are especially concerned about the security of data being collected by IoT devices while they enjoy the services. Technologies employed in Intel® IoT, such as Secure Boot and the Discrete Trusted Platform Module, can secure sensor network traffic and prevent sensitive user data from being leaked to, or stolen by, malicious users. Guaranteeing the privacy and security of guest information is key to improving customer satisfaction and establishing trust with tourists and travelers.

Also of concern in the IoT transition process is the integration of new and legacy systems, especially in hotels and airports that already have established assets. Intel® Intelligent Gateway Solutions for IoT, tailored to provide connectivity for existing devices, can reduce time and cut costs for integration. As IoT ecosystems continue to expand in airports and hotels, offering more services to tourists and travelers, Intel® IoT Gateways, which are responsible for connecting sensors to cloud servers, can be scaled to continue supporting the increasing number of connected objects in their networks.

Although it is still in its infancy, IoT is already revolutionizing the tourism and travel industries. By taking advantage of IoT solutions, hotel, travel, and tourism companies can realize increased operational efficiency and more personalized guest experiences, which will directly affect revenue generation and customer retention.

What we're seeing today is only the tip of the iceberg, a prelude to what the future of IoT holds for us. Upcoming innovations will no doubt continue to introduce even more dramatic transformations to the tourism and travel industries and create seemingly endless possibilities and benefits for future travelers. Having secure, reliable and scalable platforms will help companies to incorporate IoT into their current initiatives and also to prepare for a smooth transition to smarter, more efficient systems as the technology continues to evolve and expand.

Learn more about how you can get started with Intel® IoT

If you want samples of how Intel IoT solutions are helping introduce smart services in building and facilities, take a look at Intel's Smart Buildings Solutions. You can also read this blog post to see practical instances where Intel® IoT technology has been integrated in buildings.

If you are a developer and want to be involved in improving the tourism and travel experience using Intel® IoT Technology, here's where you can begin:

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