The Future of Business Travel: Supersonic Flights, Computerized Chauffeurs, and Beyond

Thanks to new advances in artificial intelligence, the future of transportation will be increasingly automated and sustainable, per Euromonitor’s Future of Travel 2040 report. But at the same time, with Covid having drastically sped up the adoption of a host of new digital and online technologies, forward-looking industry innovations aren’t limited to smarter experiences alone. Amid a recent boom in aerospace and design advancements, coming years will bring radical enhancements to the world of planes, trains and automobiles, as well as hospitality and destination management. Here’s a peek at what tomorrow’s domestic and international transit experiences will hold for business travelers.

Supersonic travel

Two decades after the Concorde last took to the heavens, myriad start-ups such as Boom and Spike Aerospace aim to resume high-speed flights while muting those annoying sonic bangs. Hate enduring red-eyes and layovers, let alone playing hours of Nintendo Switch? Boom’s Overture passenger jet, which can accommodate around 65 to 88 passengers and reach a top speed of 1,300 mph, is expected to arrive by 2025, aiming to shave the time of international flights by roughly half. That means trips from Tokyo to Seattle could be reduced from 8.5 to as little as 4.5 hours. With a goal of serving the executive travel market and streamlining premium routes like New York to London and Washington, D.C., to Paris, firms such as Exosonic are also leveraging environmentally responsible fuel to power their jet engines. With any luck, the answer to the age-old question, “Are we there yet?” will be a much faster “Yes!”

Self-driving autobiles

With 470 million connected vehicles estimated to be traversing global highways and generating roughly 25 GB of data per hour by 2025, the race to reinvent the future of autonomous vehicles is underway. Ericsson reports that connected cars are poised to drastically alter transportation, so it won’t be long before your next chauffer is a computer. Google parent Alphabet’s Waymo start-up has begun testing robotaxis in California and Arizona, while General Motors-backed Cruise is now operating its self-driving fleet in San Francisco. And forget having to sprint for early-morning or late-night car rentals: Tesla will be greeting you at airport arrival areas within the next decade.

Illustration by Coen Pohl

Virtual and extended reality

The international market for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is growing by leaps and bounds each year, according to a recent report by Global Market Estimates. These solutions allow you to remotely experience destinations, activities and exhibits using a smartphone and VR headset. Researchers expect that these tools will be a key resource in helping to build a new travel industry. From simulated site visits to rides on roller coasters, hyper-immersive online experiences are the wave of the future.

Robotics and automation

Artificially intelligent personalities are already helping you to book flights, confirm hotel reservations and secure event tickets. Insiders predict the market for these smart solutions will reach $142 billion by 2024, ensuring that online assistants will soon be ubiquitous. But with nations from South Korea to Singapore to Bulgaria also deploying a host of robot butlers and concierges at airports and hotels, you can soon expect to find automated helpers popping up elsewhere. International travelers expect robots to play a big role in future transport, and they’re largely comfortable with this. So who knows? The futuristic world of the Jetsons and its dizzying array of robot helpers may arrive within our lifetime.

QR codes

With over half of all United States restaurants having already made the leap to QR-code menus, it’s no surprise that business travelers are becoming more comfortable shopping and paying using these solutions. The contactless, safety-first codes will continue to power more hotel, museum and destination experiences in the years ahead. Just a few of the many growing uses for QR codes include accessing information, snapping up items and discounts, and downloading music, video and photos on demand. As a result, nearly a third of all mobile phone users will be looking to these solutions as an essential purchasing tool within the next three years, according to Juniper Research. Physical tickets, menus and maps are increasingly predicted to become a thing of the past.

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