Skyscanner presents

The Future of Travel 2024

Spaceship ready for takeoff

Spring, 2024

It’s all bad news this morning on the 3D Apple TV and the working day ahead threatens to be long and taxing. With a wave of his hand, TOM (Traveller of the Millennium) switches off the gesture-controlled unit with a sigh. It’s clearly time for a break.

After a run of 60-hour weeks, even his MeTube alerts are telling him he needs to get away from it all. Siri, his virtual housemate, has spotted the signs of burnout too.

Without any instructions from him, she begins to compile journey possibilities that she knows he’ll love. Perhaps a trip to see Africa’s disappearing elephant herds? ‘Only 20 years before they’re gone for good,’ she adds.

‘Maybe something a bit more relaxing,’ he replies.

‘One of the new underwater hotels,’ she suggests, dipping the lights, filling the room with the sound of lapping waves on coral and projecting a hologram of a gorgeous seascape viewed through the panoramic windows of a room beneath the crystal-clear waters of Fiji.

Tom browsing holiday options
TOM virtually testing a hotel room

Over the next 20 minutes, Siri directs a virtual stream onto his third-generation Glyph TV, a curated cascade of inspiring images, words, sounds and prices calculated to get his travel juices flowing.

Finally, a stunning image of one of the new space hotels in low orbit over the heart-stoppingly beautiful blue-green curvature of the Earth makes him sit up and take notice. ‘Now we’re talking,’ he murmurs.

‘Book me a seat, Siri.’

Space Hotel
Space Hotel

‘TOM is fictitious, but the technologies mentioned in the above scenario are either real, being tested or undergoing prototype development,’ says The Future Laboratory’s Co-founder Martin Raymond, who collaborated on this report with Skyscanner.

Our research and expert interviews suggest that in 10 years’ time the era of time-consuming online travel discovery, research and booking across multiple platforms and devices will be long gone.

As Skyscanner’s Head of B2B Filip Filipov says: ‘In the near future, there is going to be a mass-market conversion to semantic, location-aware and Big Data [data sets that are beyond our reasonable abilities to manage or comprehend so that more imaginative methods and ways to visualise them are required] applications, which will be of transformative use to travellers.

Google Glass

‘Within five years, gadgets such as Google Glass will be using these areas of technology

and we’ll see a step change in how we handle foreign languages, or choose what restaurant to eat at, based on the wisdom of crowds that we can instantly access.’

It’s tempting to raise a sceptical eyebrow at forecasts about the impact of new and emerging technology on the travel industry of the 2020s. Predicting which interfaces and devices will succeed – and which will disappear without trace – is tricky.

‘Ten years ago, who would have predicted that it would be the norm today to communicate directly with all friends on holiday by Skype or mobile phone rather than sending a postcard, or make travel choices from a website on a computer screen rather than from a travel agent’s brochure?’ asks Filipov.

The explosion of the internet and its associated digital technologies since the turn of the century has disrupted almost every field of human endeavour, and transformed the way that we plan, book and experience travel.

Nevertheless, Filipov believes this technological revolution is in its infancy. ‘We are at the start of a journey that will see personalisation of content and advances in areas such as Artificial Intelligence that will totally change once again the way we book and take our holidays,’ he says.

‘Travel services such as Skyscanner will be able to deploy online semantic and intuitive tools that will know your preferences: that you are a regular business traveller, that you only ever take hand luggage, that you always fly premium and like to stay in a four-star hotel no more than a mile from your meeting.


‘Summer holiday booking will be similarly seamless, knowing that you prefer sunny destinations within seven hours’ flying time, that you take at least two suitcases, and like a hotel with a gym close to a beach.

‘By the middle of the next decade, travel websites will be able to deliver personalised inspiration to the digital technology in your home almost without being asked.

‘Essentially, think of a world of travel where the traveller comes first – and the technology comes together to make that experience intuitive, rich and inspirational.’

This is the world that Skyscanner's Future of Travel report explores as it reveals and explains the range of technology being developed today that will evolve to shape the global travel industry of tomorrow.

Part 1: Planning & Booking
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A 2020s Travel Landscape

To understand our 2020s traveller’s journey, we need to consider the technological, economic and social forces that will reshape the global travel industry over the next 10 years.

Perhaps the most far-reaching factor at work is the growth towards Digital Maturity. In 2014, cyberspace and its associated technologies are no longer as novel and surprising. They are becoming the backdrop to all of our lives.

In China, 464m people, or 34.5% of the total population, now access the internet through smartphones or wireless mobile devices, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Asia will see the biggest growth in the middle class – predicted to triple to 1.7bn by 2020, according to Brookings Institution – whose spending power will drive new global behaviour and attitudes to digital technology.

By 2024, internet connectivity – and the mobile devices that enable it – will be as unremarkable as electric lighting and central heating are today. The technology will be seamlessly enmeshed in the day-to-day world of travellers in both the developed and developing economies. According to Cisco Systems, there will be 50bn devices connected to the internet by 2020.

Simultaneously, there will be an explosion of travel from the Blossoming Markets of Asia, South America and Africa – the new emerging economies of each region – as their consumer spending power increases enormously.

By 2030, Asia, the world’s largest and fastest-growing regional economy, will double its GDP to US$67 trillion, outstripping GDP projections for Europe and the Americas combined, according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Travelling millions from the Blossoming Markets are ushering in an era of Global Mobility, with the global travel industry – and therefore demand for travel opportunities and experiences – expanding rapidly in the next decade.

The World Travel & Tourism Council forecast 3.2% growth in global travel in 2013, easily outstripping the predicted 2.4% growth in global GDP. The gap was even more pronounced in the emerging economies in 2012, where China and South Africa posted 7% annual travel growth and Indonesia reported a 6% rise.

The financial ebullience of the Blossoming Markets will be a necessary global antidote to the continuing economic turbulence that will shape the attitude of travellers in the Pruned Markets – the economies in Europe and the US whose growth has been cut back in the past five years by post-crash debt and austerity.

As IPK International’s Global Travel Trends report 2012/2013 says: ‘An increasing number of these countries are not able to pay their debts, the debt crisis has not reached its end and the resulting negative impacts on travel behaviour – so-called ‘downward mobility’ – in Western Europe, the USA and Japan cannot be excluded.’

The final factor that will help to define the global travel industry of the 2020s is a social one. A Demographic Timebomb is waiting in the wings as the world’s population ages at an unprecedented rate.

The past century has witnessed the most rapid decline in mortality rates in human history with life expectancy for the world as a whole rising from 47 in 1950–1955 to 69 in 2005–2010, according to the UN.

In 1950, there were twice as many children under 15 as adults over 60. By 2050, the 60+ group will outnumber children by two to one.

So, in 2024, our traveller will make his journey in a world in which Blossoming Market demand for new experiences is counter-balanced by the financial caution of the still-recovering Pruned Markets of Europe and the US.

And he will take it as a given that every aspect of travel, from discovery and booking to transit and flying, will incorporate the latest digital technology in the way that he does – seamlessly and unselfconsciously.

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Research Methodology

This Skyscanner report is the work of a 56-strong team of editors, researchers and futures networkers in key international cities to build a detailed picture over the next 10 years of the breakthrough technologies and exciting new destinations that will shape the global travel industry in the 2020s.

The experts

We explored the travel technologies and behaviours to come next by plugging into the know-how of a range of world-renowned experts, including Futurist Daniel Burrus, author of Technotrends: How to Use Technology to Go Beyond Your Competition, and Travel Futurologist Dr Ian Yeoman.

We also drew on the background lessons provided by digital strategist Daljit Singh; Microsoft’s UK Chief Envisioning Officer Dave Coplin; Google Creative Lab Executive Creative Director Steve Vranakis; Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at Reading University; and Martin Raymond, Co-founder of The Future Laboratory and author of CreATE, The Tomorrow People, and The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook.

From Skyscanner, the following experts were called on for their insights, expertise, and where possible, quoted directly in the report: Margaret Rice-Jones, Chairman; Gareth Williams, CEO and Co-Founder; Alistair Hann, CTO; Filip Filipov, Head of B2B; Nik Gupta, Director of Hotels; and Dug Campbell, Product Marketing Manager.

In tandem with the above, we used The Future Laboratory’s online network, LS:N Global, to supplement research, as well as findings from The Future Laboratory’s annual series of Futures reports on travel, technology, food and hospitality.

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The Future of Travel 2024 - Part 1 PDF (2.5Mb)

The Future of Travel 2024 - Part 2 PDF (2.5Mb)

The Future of Travel 2024 - Part 3 PDF (2.5Mb)

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For further information regarding this report please contact:

Mary Porter

0131 252 5353

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