Business Traveller - - WELCOME - Tom Ot­ley Edi­to­rial direc­tor

What does the fu­ture hold for travel? It’s a ques­tion that’s at the fore­front of our minds at this time of year and if New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are re­ally a sort of wish list, what’s on ours for 2018? A re­cent thread on our fo­rum, “If you could have one travel wish granted in 2018 what would it be?”, was in­struc­tive. Along­side pie-in-the-sky dreams of the re­turn of Con­corde and time travel, there were more achiev­able wishes such as the lift­ing of the 100ml se­cu­rity limit and hand bag­gage rules be­ing en­forced uni­formly. An­other theme boiled down to frus­tra­tion with the in­con­sis­tent use, or lack, of tech­nol­ogy in the travel ex­pe­ri­ence. As one fo­rum user put it, he would like “an on­line book­ing site that could cater for com­plex rout­ings”. Fingers crossed it will come.

Top­ping the list, how­ever, was the re­moval of queues (and most of trav­el­ling is queu­ing and its sis­ter, wait­ing). We queue to check-in or drop our bags at the air­port, we queue for se­cu­rity, we queue for im­mi­gra­tion, and then we wait for the bags at the other end. Each coun­try has its own rules and reg­u­la­tions, and en­forces them in dif­fer­ent ways, but tech­nol­ogy should be able to help sim­plify the process.

Queues hap­pen partly be­cause of lack of re­sources, but one of the prom­ises of tech­nol­ogy is that it can ease th­ese has­sles – or “fric­tion points”, as tech peo­ple re­fer to them. Whether em­pow­er­ing trav­ellers by pro­vid­ing them with in­for­ma­tion to adapt their be­hav­iour or al­low­ing the faster pro­cess­ing of peo­ple, lug­gage and in­for­ma­tion, it should be get­ting eas­ier, yet in many ways it is get­ting harder. As one fo­rum user put it, “why can’t se­cu­rity ma­chines be brought into the 21st cen­tury, al­low­ing me to walk through with­out stop­ping, emp­ty­ing pock­ets, tak­ing out tablets, etc?”

A theme emerges. We want se­cu­rity and safety – and last year was the safest ever for air travel, thank good­ness – but we want con­ve­nience as well. We should look for­ward to trav­el­ling. I hope that’s what this year brings.

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