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Travel Technology: Are We Making Progress?

A new report sheds light on the most impacting innovations in travel, according to travelers

A recent US consumer survey by American International Group, Inc. (AIG) and Pulse Poll on innovation in travel over the past century finds that 73 percent of leisure travelers care “a lot” or “somewhat” about whether travel products, services or experiences are actually innovative.

While 79 percent of the poll respondents reported being either “pleasantly surprised” or “fairly comfortable” when they hear something has changed or is about to change, millennials (ages 23-38) are three times as likely (15 percent vs. 5 percent) as traditionalists (ages 74 and older) to “eagerly await” an innovation in a travel-related service that they’ve used consistently.

Conversely, traditionalists are nearly three times as likely as millennials (17 percent vs. 6 percent) to react with ambivalence or annoyance when learning that such an innovation is forthcoming.

Top Innovation in Travel Overall

In terms of the single most innovative travel development over the past century, 79 percent of consumers cited the Wright brothers’ first flight. The debut of GPS car navigation systems came in second (56 percent), while the first commercial passenger flight came in third (50 percent). Other travel developments that rated the innovation scale included:

•First transatlantic flight (50 percent)

•Advent of online travel booking (43 percent)

•Debut of wheeled suitcases (33 percent)

Only 17 percent of the polled consumers rated the advent of ride-sharing services (i.e., Uber and LYFT), and only 15 percent of respondents rated the launch of home-sharing services (such as Airbnb, HomeAway™ and VRBO®). Other innovations that some of those surveyed rated for innovation included:

•Expedited airport security/Customs/immigration processing programs — i.e., TSA Pre✓®, Global Entry, CLEAR (30 percent of respondents scored these a 1 for innovation)

•Bullet trains in Europe (23 percent)

•Seat-back entertainment systems (21 percent)

•The Concorde jet (20 percent)

•In-flight Wi-Fi (17 percent)

•Self-service kiosks for ticketing/check-in (17 percent)

•Suitcases with tracking technology (15 percent)

•Frequent-flyer reward programs (13 percent)

•Suitcases with USB charging ports (10 percent)

•Vacation time-share properties (3 percent)

Finally, when considering whether to buy travel products, services or experiences, 60 percent of respondents feel it’s important that the provider of these offerings has been around for 75 years or more.

While 25 percent of baby boomers (ages 55-73) agree that this is important, only 7 percent of millennials do.