With the adoption of wearable technology slowly on the rise, it is now poised to invade the travel industry from a consumer perspective and behind the scenes at airports, hotels, theme parks, and cruise ships. Walt Disney World Resorts’ MagicBand experienced notable success in recent years, inspiring other wearable devices such as Carnival’s Ocean Medallion and Universal Orlando’s TapuTapu, which enable highly personalized guest experiences. These technologies are all location or vacation-specific devices.
At the same time, applications that work anywhere on smartwatches and other wearable third-party devices have been limited by slow consumer adoption. With new types of wearables coming on the market in the form of everything from device-embedded clothing to earbuds, the rate of consumer acceptance is increasing and location-agnostic devices are starting to come into their own.
In travel, the true vision of wearables is to take a consumer’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 telling a traveler about that gate change via smart headphones.
Offering guests a wearable to replace need-to-carry items like credit cards, room keys and park tickets, is all part of a larger guest experience strategy that began 8 years ago with the MagicBand. Several travel companies are investing in their own technologies that can be used on third-party wearables such as the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices. For example, most major airlines have apps that can send gate changes and boarding passes directly to smartwatches.
New forms of wearable technology are also on the horizon, including smart hats, shoe inserts, camera lens glasses, and improvements to speech recognition, which will all play a large role in the future integration of wearable technology into the travel industry.