How 5G Will Reshape Tourism in the Next Years
Expectations around 5G have been high since this new technology was announced a few years ago. The implementation of a wider and faster connection will deeply change our society, including traveling and each aspect of it.
In this article, we will discuss how 5G could transform the travel industry and what is the role of this disruptive technology in creating smart destinations.
What is 5G and how does it work?
The technology called 5G is nothing more than an upgrade to the current cellular standard, the so-called 4G. Yet, the fifth-generation network will be significantly faster and more reliable than its predecessor.
I’ll not get into technical details. Basically, 5G uses a signal frequency that reduces the latency while transmitting data. In other words, pages will open almost instantly when navigating the internet.
Another big benefit of this technology is that more mobile phones will be able to connect to the same network at the same time. That means internet speed will be fast even though you are in a crowded place.
Many mobile operators announced that their 5G network will be widely available by the next years. In the EU, only Lithuania, Malta and Portugal have not launched 5G services as at the end of March 2021.
Travel, tourism and 5G, what to expect?
New apps will emerge based on the fast communication between devices. Mostly because technologies that today have restricted application, or that are in the early stages of development, will become viable after the roll-out of 5G.
Some examples are:
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Mixed Reality (MR)
- The internet of things (IoT)
- Artificial Inteligence (AI)
- Autonomous vehicles
How about tourism?
The solutions that will come after 5G could be used by destinations and travel companies to attract and delight visitors.
Changes in the sector will involve a deeper guest personalization, better access to information and content, an enhancement in entertainment, and streamlined operations industry-wide.
A fast and stable internet connection is an important factor for guest satisfaction. Over 30% of business travelers would not return to a hotel with a poor WiFi connection.
With 5G, problems with connectivity would be solved. The internet speed will be fast even though there is a conference going on in the hotel and many guests are using the internet at the same time.
The low latency could also popularize the implementation of smart features such as smart lights and thermostats. Controlling these in-room amenities through mobile apps will bring guest convenience to the next level.
Another possibility is the development of virtual concierges based on AI. Imagine a personal assistant that is capable of understanding guests’ needs and making suggestions even before being requested to do so.
Does it sound like magic? This is the future of guest personalization.
Finally, hotels could use the 5G network to streamline their operations. It will be possible to reduce energy consumption by monitoring room temperature and light.
They could also use robots to clean common areas, make the security, do the delivery service and other routine tasks.
Tours and Activities
The application of 5G based technologies in the tours and activities segment is directly related to the enhancement of the real in-destination experience.
AR, for example, works by overlapping a layer of content in our reality. Through mobile phones, users are able to see and interact with 3D models that don’t exist physically in the real world. Pretty much like Pokemon Go.
Museums could use AR to provide extra content to visitors. In the same way, tour operators could gamify walking tours, turning their storytelling even more compelling to guests.
Another advantage of a broad 5G network is the popularization of live-stream tours. Tour operators can use it as a marketing tool or even as a second revenue stream.
SmarDestination counts with members that are experts in developing virtual content for destinations and private companies. Check out Equinox and Delta Reality websites to have a glimpse of their work with AR and VR for the tourism industry.
Have you ever heard of autonomous vehicles?
This technology has been around for a while, but it lacks a low latency network to become widely accessible.
In tourism, AI-based self-driven cars could spare tourists from troubles related to city navigation. Visitors will no longer waste time trying to understand how public transport works or getting lost while driving.
They could also bring passengers to less crowded locations, distributing better visitors inside the destination.
Cities with a substantial autonomous vehicle fleet will see an improvement in the local traffic. The reason is that you don’t need to park a self-driven car and its AI is programmed to respect the traffic rules.
Will 5G also impact the way we travel?
Airports are on the edge of this transformation. New 5G technologies will be present from plane maintenance to passenger management.
While walking in a modern airport it’ll be common to see robots assisting passengers in finding their gates, or, measuring their temperatures.
Another promising technology for airports is AI-assisted computer vision.
This image processing system could be used to optimize passenger flow, find the owner of a lost luggage and predict capacity issues for hand luggage on flights.
The 5G represents a huge opportunity for destinations to enhance visitors’ experience.
In the early stages of the travel journey, during the dreaming phase, VR content can be used to entice travelers to visit a certain destination.
The travel company Thomas Cook offered a VR experience of a flyover of the Manhattan skyline, resulting in a 40% return on investment and a 190% increase in New York City excursions.
That sounds great, isn’t it?
DMOs can create something similar to attract visitors. That could be a virtual walking tour, a flyover, or showing inside a famous attraction.
How about launching a solution that displays real-time information about the destination, such as waiting times for attractions and crowded tourist areas in the city? That could also show all the points of interest nearby the user.
This is the perfect platform for tourists to book tours and activities, buy tickets to attractions and make reservations at restaurants.
I bet you got excited about the possibilities.
The tourism industry has much to benefit from 5G and the innovations that will come after it.
Many of the technologies discussed in this article sound distant, but initiatives such as the 5G-TOURS are already testing them for practical use.
Turin in Italy is part of this project, which puts the city one step forward to other destinations in the race to provide a complete travel experience.
The journey to becoming a destination of the future starts today. Learn how SmartDestination can assist DMOs in implementing travel-tech solutions that will boost their tourism product.