UK travellers are embracing innovative digital travel tools to make their journeys run more smoothly, a recent survey has found.

Tools such as voice search, e-payment and digital room keys are increasingly becoming a normal part of travel, as individuals remain connected to platforms and apps while on the move.

Travelport’s 2018 Global Digital Traveller Survey found that 36% of UK travellers are using voice search to research travel.

With the number of voice assistants used to control smart homes expected to reach 275 million by 2023, their growing presence in everyday life has clearly had an impact on the travel industry. Virtual assistants, such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, are being used on-the-go to research trips as passengers embrace an easier and more personalised way to make travel plans.

The survey of 16,200 respondents across 25 countries revealed that people are also willing to hand over personal data if it makes travelling easier. Despite an increase in privacy concerns over the past few years, the survey revealed that over 69% are open to providing biometric data, such as fingerprints or iris recognition, to reduce wait time in security lines.

According to Forbes, 77% of airports are looking at ways to incorporate biometric ID into their security procedures as an alternative to physical passports.

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Airports are embracing travel technology

Another important aspect of travel is the ability to go entirely paperless. 34% of UK travellers said they find it ‘very painful’ when they are not able to access their booking information on all of their devices. Fewer and fewer airlines now require printed boarding passes, with many switching to mobile apps, a change that the research indicates will be welcomed by passengers.

Many are now using technology to bypass another inconvenience associated with travel: exchanging currencies. The survey showed that 37% now use digital payment wallets or payment apps whilst travelling. The rise of challenger banks such as Monzo, which can be used abroad for no extra cost, may be behind this rise.

The travel industry is clearly waking up to passenger demands for technological solutions. Many airports now offer automated check-in and bag-drop facilities, and many airlines now using AI-powered chat bots to relay information to customers.

Earlier this year, Dutch airline KLM demoed CAR-E, a self-driving trolley that scans boarding passes, transports luggage, and guide passengers to their gate.

Guy Snelgar, Travelport’s Commercial Director for the UK, commented:

“The UK is a country that has vastly welcomed technology and so it is no surprise that digital travel tools are in demand. What is important to note is that UK travellers are seemingly ready and willing to jump onto travel technologies. The travel industry in the UK therefore needs to stay ahead of the curve to keep surprising and delighting its customers with cutting-edge digital solutions that tangibly enhance the experience of travellers.”