The travel industry, once characterised by physical travel agencies and paper itineraries, has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. As we tend to travel more than ever, we are witnessing a revolution that has fundamentally changed the way we plan, experience and remember our trips. This evolution impacts the rapid development of mobile applications and the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, creating an era where travel merges seamlessly with digital innovation.
In other words, the increase in our travel frequency, regardless of the nature of our trips, is reshaping the way applications are designed, utilised, and evolved. Travel trends, like workation, digital nomad lifestyle and digitalisation, are driving the development of apps, whether they are designed specifically for travel purposes or not. As a result, apps must swiftly adapt to meet this changing current market demand.
In this article, I’ll delve into the profound revolution that the travel industry has made in the field of app development. I’ll explore the influence of travel trends on non-travel applications, as well as the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
Let’s begin and navigate the ever-evolving intersection of travel and mobile technology.
How is the travel and tourism industry changing users’ needs
In a time when global mobility is at its peak, the travel industry has played a pivotal role in reshaping mobile applications. Our preferences and requirements as travellers have undergone a profound evolution, with a strong desire to explore the world extensively and effortlessly.
There are a few trends we observe that are shaping our experiences. We travel more than before, partially because we can combine leisure and work in an unprecedented manner. The time when we preferred work-life balance is slowly gone. Nowadays, it’s rather a work-life combination, and we’re more and more willing to merge those areas flexibly and make borders fluid.
While travelling, we aim for luxurious and authentic experiences focused on learning more about the world around us, no matter whether this is wildlife or exotic cultures. We’re more aware of the environment and planet, so we aim to reduce our impact on Earth by changing our habits and making informed choices. You can read more about how pro-sustainability orientation is affecting the choices we make and how those are redefining the digital solutions we use in my article about sustainable travel trends and the future of the tourism industry.
We live in the era of instant access to everything we need or desire. We’re focused on ourselves and our experiences, at least in Western culture. It’s reflected in a ubiquitous I. From branding to products, we want them to be exactly as we want at this particular moment. We don’t want to seek. We want to be offered with the right items exactly when we need them.
Instead of buying a product for its utility, we invest in experiences and memories. A dishwasher is no longer a tool to wash dishes but an investment that allows us to save time and spend it the way we want. A car is no longer just a means of transportation but a symbol of status or a means to collect memories. Travel is no longer about reaching a destination but about discovering, enjoying and experiencing.
We don’t want to have any distractions in our journey to fulfilment. We want to cope with necessary tasks immediately and without even thinking about it. That’s a huge shift if we realise that sometimes 1 minute is enough to hop into a taxi since it was booked.
Let’s now discuss how these changes influence apps, both non-travel and IoT devices. However, if you want to delve deeper into the transformative trends shaping travel planning apps and their features, I highly encourage you to read Gabriela’s article. It delves into the key factors and functionalities that contribute to the success of travel apps in the dynamic travel planning landscape.
The rapid evolution we’re witnessing extends way beyond the realm of travel, including non-travel applications that significantly influence our overall travel experience. Despite not being explicitly designed for travellers, these applications make noteworthy contributions to enhancing our journey. Moreover, they show how even seemingly unimportant in the travel and tourism industry applications can offer unbeatable and unforgettable features that come in handy while travelling or commuting.
Imagine embarking on a lengthy flight without access to your favourite music or TV series. It’d be hard and boring. Travelling often prompts a desire to unwind and fill each step of the journey with pleasure. Fortunately, numerous apps cater to precisely that.
Take Spotify, BookBeat, or Audible as examples – each striving to streamline and enrich your experience by offering access to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. What makes these apps great when it comes to travelling is their common feature: the ability to download content for offline use. Forget about the days of silent flights or boring road trips. Now, you can simply download your preferred content while being connected to the internet and then enjoy it while embarking on the journey. The same trend is observed in movie streaming apps like Netflix.
The essence of mobility is enhanced by the ability to switch between various devices (and device types) seamlessly. For example, apps like Netflix offer a travel-friendly feature that allows you to cast content onto a bigger screen (or simply other available devices, including gaming consoles) using the same Wi-Fi network. This not only enhances the travel experience but also eliminates the need to share passwords or leave your account credentials elsewhere. When you’re on the move, this feature truly helps, highlighting the strong correlation between technology and travel.
Another mobility trend is about sharing experiences. No matter whether people are alone at home or travelling together, they can listen to the same music at the same time using the Spotify jam feature. They don’t need to ask each other what they are listening to currently and switch the song, and there’s no need for sharing earphones and listening with one ear. They can listen to music like they were in the same room but in a mobile way so they can feel like in a movie while sightseeing.
Translation & Education Apps
In the past, the language barrier was a serious problem for many people wanting to travel abroad. However, in today’s world, this shouldn’t be a major concern. Apps like Google Translate have revolutionised our ability to communicate fluently in different languages. We can now enter any text in a given language and instantly translate it into the language we need. The application even has the ability to read the translated text aloud, which frees us from worries about pronunciation.
Moreover, translation applications, initially developed to help with language learning, have expanded their functions. From recording and translating speech to the use of AI tools – they are constantly evolving. Modern dictionaries now offer live translation options by scanning through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) using the device’s camera. This proves to be exceptionally useful in a country with an unfamiliar alphabet. Technological advances have indeed made the world more connected and accessible, greatly improving our travel experiences.
It’s also more and more common for apps to offer on-the-go translations of descriptions and messages. Vinted is a great example of allowing people from different countries to connect over items and converse, not necessarily in English! Now, once you visit a particular country you can even pick your item up and setting up a meeting spot won’t be a problem anymore.
Additionally, educational apps like Duolingo, Busuu, Pimsleur or Mondly have redefined the way we approach language learning. Unlike traditional textbooks, which often present formal and rigid language structures, these apps immerse us in real, practical use of the language. This way, our travel experiences are not so surprising and stressful, as such apps use phrases and expressions commonly used in specific countries. By including these everyday phrases, idioms and vocabulary, such apps prepare us for authentic interactions and situations we may encounter while travelling.
Most of those apps have introduced travel-oriented lessons focusing on phrases and conversations one might encounter while exploring a new country. These bite-sized lessons are perfect for tourists looking to pick up basic local language essentials quickly. They offer conversational lessons crafted around real-life situations, like ordering food or asking for directions, which are incredibly handy for travellers.
Apps like Memrise, Pimsleur or Busuu take it a step further by using native-speaker videos to teach language through real-life words and phrases. This method not only helps with listening comprehension but also with cultural immersion, as learners see and hear people speaking in everyday contexts they’re likely to encounter on their travels.
The mentioned apps also have a speech recognition tool built-in to help learners improve their pronunciation, which is crucial when trying to communicate in a new place.
These apps, by focusing on travel-specific content, not only facilitate language learning in a practical context but also greatly enhance the travel experience by breaking down language barriers and making trips more enjoyable and immersive.
For people going on a business trip or deciding to go on workation, staying up to date with colleagues and maintaining smooth communication is crucial. Take Slack – the communication tool for professionals around the world. Particularly useful for coordinating across time zones, Slack provides real-time awareness of a colleague’s local time while initiating a conversation.
This simple but extremely effective feature improves communication and ensures that messages are sent at the right time, taking into account the recipient’s working hours. As the dynamics of work and travel continue to evolve, tools like Slack provide an example of how technology can bridge the gap and facilitate communication and collaboration in a globally connected workspace.
Calendar apps are adapting to the lifestyles of travellers by introducing features that make planning and staying organized across time zones effortless. Google Calendar offers a “world clock” feature, allowing users to see the time in multiple cities alongside their events, and Microsoft Outlook has incorporated a “time zone override” function that allows users to view and schedule appointments in their preferred time zone, regardless of their current location.
However, it’s not only about time zone changes. WhatsApp, for example, has become a go-to app for international travellers due to its ability to work on minimal data and Wi-Fi connections, making it highly reliable for sending messages or making calls across borders (LifeWire).
Similarly, WeChat is not only a communication app but also a platform offering various travel services for its users, particularly those travelling in or to China. From booking flights to making payments, its functionality is tailored to assist travellers in navigating the logistical aspects of their trips (FlyScoot, AlternativeAirlines).
Apps like Viber have included features such as “Viber Out” which allow users to make low-cost calls to any phone number around the world, proving useful when internet connectivity is spotty or while contacting those without smartphones.
These apps have recognised the nuances of communication while travelling and have become adept at providing features that cater specifically to the needs of the traveller. By incorporating these functionalities, they not only assist in professional commitments but also enhance the overall travel experience by ensuring trips are well-organized and stress-free.
For gaming enthusiasts, carrying a PS4 or PC while on vacation may not be the most attractive idea, and spending your entire trip in your hotel room gaming may also not be the ideal choice. However, for those looking for a great mix of fun and exploration, there are apps and games tailored to such travel experiences.
Let’s take Pokémon GO as an example – offering travel-oriented features, this game not only entertains travellers but also encourages physical activity while hiking in new locations. Pokémon GO, with its augmented reality gameplay, encourages players to go outside and find Pokémon in the real world. This way, travellers can immerse themselves in the world of games while enjoying the beauty and life of the places they visit!
Similarly, games like Geocaching offer an interactive experience that takes players on a real-world treasure hunt, perfectly blending the thrill of gaming with the joy of discovering new places. With a simple app, travellers can find hidden caches in almost every corner of the globe, adding an element of adventure to their journeys.
Another example is Ingress, where players join factions and battle for control of virtual territories at real locations, motivating gamers to visit new places and engage with their surroundings in a competitive format.
For those who prefer a more relaxed gaming experience during their travels, many mobile games now offer offline modes and allow for gameplay without the need for constant internet connectivity, ideal for long flights or remote destinations.
Moreover, in today’s market, we are witnessing a growing number of solutions that enhance our gaming experience while prioritising mobility. Take, for example, GeForce NOW, a cloud-based game streaming service that provides real-time gameplay directly from the cloud to a range of devices, including laptops, iPhones, iPads, and more. This means you no longer have to carry your entire gaming setup with you, you can travel with ease and enjoy online gaming with friends.
Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Apps
For most people accustomed to working at a desk, travelling usually translates into an increase in physical activity. Even on an all-inclusive holiday, it is quite likely that we will explore nearby areas, go for walks and take part in various activities. During these adventures, it turns out how important applications are that track steps, measure distance travelled, estimate calories burned and motivate people to be active.
Apps like MyFitnessPal allow you to log meals from international dining with a vast database of foods.
On the other hand, Strava has become invaluable for those on the move, offering features like location-based activity tracking, which helps travellers find popular running routes in new cities. Strava capitalizes on the social aspect of travel by allowing users to share their workouts and compete with friends or locals while also discovering the most scenic paths recommended by fellow travellers. This transforms the solitary act of exercise into a social experience that enhances one’s travel itinerary.
For those who frequent various global destinations, apps like Nike Training Club provide a range of workouts that can be done in the privacy of a hotel room, with minimal to no equipment, ensuring that travellers can stay fit on their own terms. The app’s adaptability to different spaces and its wide variety of workout intensities make it ideal for any schedule or location.
These apps not only help you maintain an active lifestyle but also play an instrumental role in building a sense of community and support. Strava, a perfect example of this mix, provides an amazing feature that allows us to share our live location with friends while running or cycling. In addition to the pleasant aspect of tracking friends’ activities, this function serves as a travel companion, ensuring safety by informing loved ones about our whereabouts. Basically, such apps enable us to prioritise our fitness and mental well-being, seamlessly combining travel and health.
In today’s digital world, the search for love or simply intriguing meetings has taken on a new dimension thanks to dating apps. The revolutionary aspect of these applications is the ability to change our current location to anywhere in the world. We don’t have to limit ourselves as this feature makes it possible to meet new connections across the globe.
Dating apps have swiftly pivoted to become an essential tool for travellers seeking companionship on the road, evolving to accommodate the transient nature of their lifestyles. Recognising this shift, Tinder introduced the ‘Passport’ feature, which allows users to change their location and swipe in any city worldwide, opening up the possibility to connect with locals or fellow travellers before they even arrive at their destination.
Bumble extends its reach by allowing users to not only date but also make new friends or gain professional connections through its Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz modes. This versatility is particularly attractive to those travelling solo who are looking for a gym buddy, a dining companion, or even networking opportunities away from home. It takes from the opportunity that borders are no longer limiting people in terms of love, friendship and work.
These adaptations in dating apps reflect a broader trend of technology responding to the changing patterns of human interaction. They not only make travel more socially enriching but also help forge a world that feels smaller, more connected, and infinitely more accessible for those seeking love, friendship, or just a glimpse into the local way of life.
Mobile Payment Apps
Mobile payment apps are revolutionising financial transactions for travellers, ensuring seamless and secure access to their funds across the globe. Apps like PayPal have long facilitated international payments, but now they’re enhancing their platforms to cater to on-the-go users, allowing travellers to pay for services or split bills without the hassle of currency exchange.
Meanwhile, the likes of Wise (formerly TransferWise) focus on reducing high bank fees for currency conversion, offering real exchange rates and low-cost, transparent fees, which is particularly beneficial for longer-term travellers and digital nomads managing their finances abroad. Similarly, Revolut allows travellers to exchange money into various currencies at interbank rates, pay with a contactless card, and withdraw funds worldwide, effectively making borderless banking a reality.
Google Pay and Apple Pay have also expanded their functionalities for travellers, providing contactless payments and integrating transit passes in major cities around the world, so you can hop onto a subway or bus without needing a physical ticket or exact change. They’re partnering with more services and retailers internationally, ensuring that wherever you are, your payment is just a tap away on your smartphone.
These mobile payment solutions not only offer convenience but also an added layer of security, reducing the need to carry cash or expose credit card details in unfamiliar places. By adapting to the mobility and financial needs of travellers, these apps are essential tools in the modern adventurer’s arsenal, making the journey as smooth as the destination itself.
The paradigm shift also includes the latest developments in IoT (Internet of Things) devices. We travel more and more often, which has resulted in changes in their functionalities. From smart suitcases with built-in chargers and location trackers to wearable devices that monitor our health and fitness on the move, IoT has changed the way we travel, making trips more convenient and enjoyable.
Moreover, IoT has impacted various sectors of the travel industry, including hotels and transportation, by improving services and creating more personalised and efficient travel experiences. Let’s talk about it!
Users can now manage their entire smart home remotely, receiving shopping lists from their refrigerators or recommendations on what to cook based on the contents of their fridge. Yes, you’ve read correctly – the Family Hub® Samsung Fridges allow you to see what’s inside them on your phone, wherever you are. Internet users, of course, quickly caught on to the emerging trends and today, photos “sent by the fridge” even have a name – shelfies!
Fancy or not, it’s a great opportunity for people who travel for a long time. They can schedule a food delivery from their favourite online grocery when they’re going back home from a trip to make sure everything will arrive just on time.
Other innovations, such as mobile-controlled smart intercoms (such as Touchcom) and similar systems, emphasise mobility and remote management, allowing users to grant access to their homes remotely. The IoT devices are rapidly adapting to the changing habits in the travel industry – everything now is adjusted to our mobility and love of travelling.
It’s also the case when it comes to monitoring systems. There are cameras that can be connected to any network and accessible via any mobile app all over the world. Those devices allow us to monitor houses when households are away and receive notifications in the case of any movement. Such a solution, hand in hand with cloud-stored recordings, allows people to feel safe and react immediately in the case of any unexpected situation like robbery.
Devices are rapidly evolving in response to growing travel trends. These days we have wireless in-ear headphones that can actively track and eliminate countless external sounds, even the subtlest ones like the rustle of wind. This innovation makes it possible to listen to music and unwind while travelling comfortably (you can check Samsung Galaxy Buds solutions, I’m a fan of them).
At the same time, the new technology allows us to stay in touch and connect with other people even better thanks to conversation discovery and automatic switching between audio and voice. Nowadays, earphones (like Samsung Galaxy Buds, again) can decrease the audio volume when they “hear” that someone is talking to us and switch to ambient sound without the need to touch them or change any settings.
Whether it’s quickly changing applications or seamlessly connecting our devices, the advancement in IoT ensures we are prepared for this mobility. These examples show how IoT integration makes our travel experiences smoother, enhancing both productivity and leisure on the go.
Smart hotel rooms
The integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and applications is the future. Today, smart hotels and accommodations have begun to leverage IoT devices to deliver customised and delightful guest experiences.
From the moment a guest enters a room, IoT-enabled thermostats and lighting systems adapt to their preferences, providing an immediate sense of familiarity and comfort. They can seamlessly stream their favourite shows or set the atmosphere in a room with just a few taps on their smartphone. This level of automation and personalisation embodies the adaptability of the travel industry, making every stay individual and convenient.
As travellers desire smoother and more enjoyable journeys, the harmonious combination of IoT and applications in the travel sector demonstrates the industry’s commitment to meet growing needs.
As travel has become an integral part of our lifestyle, our needs and desires as travellers are shifting dramatically. We crave for more exploration, seeking seamless, convenient, and personalised travel experiences. The travel industry is fully aware of these changing expectations, prompting a revolutionary transformation in travel-specific but also non-travel applications and IoT devices.
Non-travel applications have adjusted to our needs, incorporating features that enhance our travel experiences in general. Furthermore, IoT devices have stepped into the realm of travel, taking into account our increased mobility and prioritising our comfort and convenience.
The fundamental shift is clear: apps and IoT devices are now aligning with our needs, enabling us to travel more easily and explore the world in a way that resonates with our evolving expectations.
Marketing is about research and communication. As a social scientist and marketer with many years of experience, Kasia combines knowledge and crafting to help design the app and plan and execute marketing strategies for TeaCode and our clients.
Even the best app can fail if no one uses it. How do we reach them with our messages in a world saturated with communication? That's why she helps clients spread the news about their apps worldwide.