How Will The Future Of Business Travel Look Like In 2050

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After researching articles and reports that reference future travel trends alongside specific years, US-based travel technology company Booking.com has created a timeline of predicted developments in business travel too, running from now right up to 2050. Of course, a lot of predictions could be conjectures in time, but they year may not be not too far, when each of them will become true.

The Future of Business Travel

2023

2023

Facial recognition technology is already being tested in major airports in order to verify people’s ID. It’s reported to improve travel security and efficiency, speeding up the boarding process. If trials continue to prove successful, facial recognition tech could be rolled out nationwide in the US by the end of 2023, saving regular business travelers time that could be spent more productively.

2024

2024

By 2024, 3D CT scanners could eliminate the inconvenience of having to take out laptops and electronics when going through security – it’s already being trialed in some airports. It’s thought that this imaging technology will also allow the restriction on liquids to be lifted in the UK by 2024, with other countries expected to follow suit. 3D scanners will inevitably save business travelers valuable time and make taking a flight a little more hassle-free.

2025

2025

After successful pilot programs some hotels are already using AI technology to reduce food waste. The Iberostar Group, in particular, is using tech to support its goal of being landfill waste-free by 2025, by tracking exactly how much food is stored and thrown away, and using this data to suggest ways in which waste could be reduced. Pioneering accommodation like this gives business travelers an opportunity to choose an environmentally-friendly stay, benefiting the planet, as well as organizations with carbon-impact initiatives and sustainable targets.

2026

2026

It’s predicted that blockchain technology such as NFTs (non-fungible tokens; digital files secured by a blockchain for secure trading) will continue to grow and find more and more use in business travel. Uses so far include digital art that allows users to explore pathways to accommodation properties, and exclusive digital passes giving recipients rewards and discounts. They’re also being used for airline tickets and business travelers could soon find themselves needing NFTs to access special hotel room packages or co-working spaces.

2027

2027

Plans are already underway to open the first-ever space hotel/business park by 2027. This luxury space station will include a rotating structure in order to simulate gravity at its edges, but will also offer unique activities such as low-gravity basketball, rock climbing and trampolining.

While some businesses will be keen to book extraplanetary meetings and events as soon as possible, the cost will be prohibitive for others. Reservations are currently priced at $5 million, and that’s for a stay of just 3.5 hours!

The Future of Business Travel

Another futuristic trend that may come into play in 2027 is augmented reality (AR). AR-enabled apps benefit business travelers in a number of ways – from navigating unfamiliar places to translation in foreign countries. It also allows people to take virtual tours remotely, or visit a site and see it enhanced with additional layers of information. Similarly, product demonstrations can be brought to life with AR, allowing clients and customers to visualize and interact with products in new ways.

However, right now AR is limited, lacking a wide field of view and having resolution, battery and 3D-sensing issues. Its appeal and uptake is therefore limited, but it’s thought that by 2027 people will have access to unconstrained, immersive AR experiences, and the associated advantages for traveling professionals.

2030

2030

Guest comfort and energy efficiency will be managed and optimized by AI in smart hotels, according to the predictions. This will include managing heating and cooling systems, for instance, to reduce energy consumption and costs – again, great news for companies with green aspirations.

The Future of Business Travel

While this concept is already in action in certain restaurants, in the near future business travelers could see robots replacing some staff on a larger scale, providing services such as cleaning and room service in hotels and helping visitors navigate their accommodation. Robotic staff will also be able to act as translators and perform customer service roles to ensure work trips go smoothly and business guests enjoy a comfortable stay.

The Future of Business Travel

Also by 2030, businesses will be able to cut their carbon footprint by booking net-zero accommodation. Hilton opened the US’s first net-zero hotel in 2022, which is powered entirely by solar energy. Such sustainable hotels are expected to be widespread by the end of the decade.

2035

2035

Business travelers might be able to reduce their environmental impact even further by taking to the skies on zero-emission commercial aircraft. Airbus has revealed three concept aircraft already and could have such a plane in service by 2035. This would be a huge win for organizations wanting to reduce their carbon emissions as part of sustainability programs.

2040

2040

As well as robotic staff, automated systems will likely make checking in and out completely seamless and hassle-free, whether during the day or outside of regular operating hours. Luggage could also be stored and shipped to another destination for business guests, saving them time and allowing them to attend meetings without having to lug around heavy cases. By 2040 this sort of seamless travel should be ubiquitous, and hopefully, the travel industry will be achieving net-zero targets.

2050

2050

Corporate travel could take place on hypersonic rocket planes by 2050, which are expected to travel at speeds over 15,000 mph. This could open up new business markets and opportunities in distant countries and regions, thanks to drastically reduced travel times (Europe to Australia in 90 minutes!). Travel will become less time-consuming, and therefore allow more time for either business or leisure at the other end.

Looking forward

The above may only be predictions, but in-depth research suggests that this timeline is likely. Of course, there’s still much debate about future business travel trends. Another way to explore the future of business travel is to look at which topics are the most searched for online.

The most searched for future business travel trends

Which are business travelers fascinated by and most looking forward to seeing in reality? Supersonic aircraft? Augmented reality travel? To answer this question, we explored the trends with the most internet searches, revealing the hottest topics right now.

The Future of Business Travel

The most popular topic by far is space hotels, showing that people are really intrigued by the idea of truly cosmic business, leisure and even bleisure trips.

Mobile hotels, or “Autonomous Travel Suites”, are driving a lot of searches too. What is a mobile hotel? The idea is fully-functional, battery-powered accommodation on wheels, which can pick guests up and take them to their destination while they rest. Ideal for stress-free, efficient business travel!

Other popular topics include virtual travel, reducing the necessary number of business trips and giving corporate travelers the chance to explore the world with VR and metaverse experiences. VR could really come into its own here and have a big impact on the travel industry, with benefits such as:

  • Immersive tours of accommodation, events venues and more prior to booking, to ensure they suit a business’ needs
  • Virtual instead of in-person conferences and industry events
  • Virtual visits to offices, factories and other professional settings
  • 360-degree in-flight entertainment when people do fly for work

While topics like virtual travel are clearly intriguing business travelers, trends such as facial recognition and supersonic aircraft show that people will still need airports (or even space ports!). But what will the airport of the future look like, and how will it deal with the changes we’re predicting?

The airport of the future

Regular business travelers spend a lot of time queuing and waiting around in terminals, so who better to ask what the airport of the future should look like? Booking.com’s 2023 airport travel habits survey reveals what business travelers want to see in the terminal when they’re preparing to jet off.

The Future of Business Travel
The Future of Business Travel

Our survey results show that 28% of business travelers think the airport of the future must have dedicated spaces in which they can focus. This would be a fantastic benefit for business travelers, who often have to try and work in crowded and noisy waiting areas.

The Future of Business Travel

Nearly 1 in 5 travelers rate virtual queuing as a technological advancement that could improve their airport experience – ranking it 2nd of those specific to business traveler’s needs and 4th out of the 20 future amenities that all travelers would most like to see in future airports. This would make the transition from check-in to plane more efficient, giving business travelers extra time to work or relax before boarding, as well as shortening the time spent on travel overall.

The Future of Business Travel

18% of travelers want to see business hubs in airports. These hubs would go beyond work/study spaces to provide an office-type environment, in which professionals and colleagues can hold meetings, make calls and focus on work away from the terminal. Travelers on work trips clearly want to be able to carry on with business as usual, wherever they are.

The Future of Business Travel

Our survey reveals that 16% think individual meeting booths or pods would be a great addition. This way, professionals will be able to virtually check in with colleagues and clients, even when waiting for business travel flights. This shows once again that business travelers still want to be able to focus when on the move.

The Future of Business Travel

16% would like to see touchscreen shopping in the airport of the future. Anything that can save time is a win for business travelers, and if they can get what they need without having to walk the length of the terminal, they will not only shorten their overall travel time, but also win back time that could be used answering emails or preparing for a meeting.

The Future of Business Travel

The same portion of respondents (16%) want to see virtual assistants in terminals. In fact, some airports are already using them to help passengers navigate and get through checkpoints. Business travelers could certainly benefit from virtual assistants, which should speed up check-in, security and boarding processes, and be available to share information quicker than most human staff could.

The Future of Business Travel

And finally, 15% think robot customer service would be a great way to handle any travel hurdles – for example, providing travelers with options and alternatives in the event of missed or canceled flights. As well as improving efficiency, this could help reduce overall travel costs by removing the need for as many human airport/airline staff.

So, what do business travelers want from the airport of the future, and what do airports need to do to stay on top of the business travel game? In short, somewhere to work, and a fast and efficient process from check-in to boarding, expedited by virtual and robotic assistants.

The Future of Business Travel

Airport facial recognition – which should speed up and de-stress business trips significantly – is the most talked about future travel topic right now, featuring in 369 articles in the past year.

The topic most discussed after facial recognition is space hotels. As mentioned, there are plans for the first cruise ship-style cosmic accommodation/business park to open within just a few years, and this is clearly big news.

Next comes hotels and the Metaverse – in other words virtual travel, allowing businesses and clients to come together remotely, or view business hotel rooms and meeting spaces prior to booking.

Other hot topics include hotels where cryptocurrency is accepted and mobile hotels.

Technology, space hotels and the metaverse are claiming the most column inches currently, clearly indicating the topics the media thinks will engage readers best. Perhaps because, according to our predictions, business travelers can look forward to seeing these innovations in the near future.

Conclusion

So, what does the future of business travel look like? Well, data helps us create a picture of what we’re likely to see in the coming years.

One thing is certain – technology will be at the heart of how business travel evolves. Prior to booking, virtual travel will allow tours of accommodation and events spaces. At the airport, 3D scanners, virtual queuing and robotic assistants will make the experience more efficient. And travel will be more enjoyable and much faster too, with enhanced in-flight entertainment and hypersonic rocket planes on the horizon.

Future hotels will rely on technology too, from robotic staff and AI to mobile hotels. And then there’s the promise of space hotels, making out-of-this-world business travel an imminent reality!

Technology will also help business travel become more sustainable. Zero-emission aircraft and net-zero hotels will hugely benefit businesses with carbon-reduction targets, thereby benefiting the planet.

(This post in published as part of a content partnership between Booking.com & Startupanz.com. Originally published here.)