SXSW 2016 wrapped a few weeks back and as the showcase for all things trendy and new when it comes to social media and technology, it’s time we take a look at travel-related trends that emerged from the conference.
SXSW Welcomes President and Michelle Obama
To start of SXSW on Friday, March 11, President Barack Obama gave a keynote that verified the first-class speakers SXSW, in its 20th year, is able to bring to Austin, Texas.
Virtual reality has finally become mainstream. During the entire week of SXSW, hoards of attendees lined up to experience Samsung’s VR headset, known as the Galaxy VR. This headset is now selling as an accessory to the latest Samsung phone, the Galaxy S7.
Why does VR matter to travelers? Because it enables us to experience destinations in a whole new way, before you decide to book.
- Imagine being able to ‘walk’ through a hotel room before you book.
- Imagine being able to see 360 degree experiences of a potential destination to decide if that waterfall tour is worth it
In fact, last week, Thomas Cook recently traveled to Egypt and filmed the pyramids, six different hotels and some live-action biking on sand dunes.
Then, the company mass mailed brochures, equipped with inexpensive (about $24 a pop) Cardboard headsets—both the name and the material. Using specs from Google, these open-source units will let targeted customers use their own smartphones to power custom-branded VR experiences via a downloadable app.
Artificial Intelligence and chat bots
The second trend to highlight is artificial intelligence. With technologies such as Amazon Echo, Google Now and even Siri present, bots are getting better at voice recognition. It’s possible that soon with bots, you’ll chat your way to ordering a car or buying a plane ticket.
An app called Assist is a chatbot for Facebook Messenger (or traditional text messaging) that enables you to order a ride, book a restaurant reservation, discover places or even book a hotel.
Just this week, KLM, the Dutch Airline, announced that it has launched Facebook Messengers first airline bot:
The Messenger team has announced that its first airline partner’s, the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’, bot is up and running in some locations and will be more widely available in the coming days. You have to choose to receive info via Messenger when you book tickets through the airline’s website to be able to take advantage of its new feature. Once you do, the bot can send you your itinerary, boarding pass, check-in confirmation and even delay notifications through the app. It also gives you the choice to talk to a human staff member in case you have questions way above the bot’s pay grade.
Social Watch: Switching way from Twitter/Facebook
Snapchat was a huge talking point during SXSW with the creation of geofilters and other add-ons being immensely popular among both consumers and brands.
Custom Snapchat filters offer The rare ability to share unique, unedited moments is opening up a huge opportunity for brands to communicate with their audience in an intimate nature.
Last year, Meerkat and Periscope were the talk of the town during SXSW. This year, Periscope was still in the mix, but Facebook Live was the more used technology. The new app, from Facebook, allows you to stream live video to your Facebook followers and friends.
For travelers, this means you can easily share your favorite food moments, concerts/live music and other live experiences with your friends and family back home.
Featured image credit: Flickr user nrkbeta