Innovation That Matters

| Photo source GIGA Turbines by Windward Engineering

Top 7 Travel and Tourism Innovations From 2019

Best of 2019

From a sustainable holiday rental platform to eco-friendly aeroplane trays made from coffee, here are our favourite travel and tourism innovations from 2019.

Almost 90 per cent of travellers report that standard travelling processes are insufficient. Consequently, personalisation has become an important priority among trends in the travel and tourism industry. Millennial and Gen Z travellers value tailored experiences, regardless if it’s a holiday or a business trip. In fact, 57 per cent of online booking operations are mobile, allowing people to customize their experience altogether. 

Mobile applications not only facilitate booking and reservation procedures. Combined with plugin and app technology — such as WeChat — travellers are granted access to real-time advice and local recommendations.

However, the real stand-out factors surround the sustainable travel movement. The truth is, the travel industry must re-imagine itself in order to survive. Global tourism accounts for almost 10 per cent of all carbon emissions. The importance of sustainable travel goes beyond protecting the environment and minimizing plastic consumption. It must foster innovations that truly address climate change and expand economic development in communities affected by tourism. Keeping this in mind, here are our top 7 travel and tourism innovations from 2019.

1. A SUSTAINABLE, SHORT-TERM RENTAL PLATFORM

Photo source Linh Nguyen on Unsplash

Fairbnb is developing a platform for short-term rentals aimed at helping local communities. The platform plans to work with neighbourhoods to make short-term rentals sustainable. Like Airbnb, Fairbnb is a virtual meeting place for hosts and guests to connect. Unlike Airbnb, the cooperative says that it is focused on sustainable tourism rather than profit.

Like Airbnb, Fairbnb is a virtual meeting place for hosts and guests to connect. Unlike Airbnb, the cooperative says that it is focused on sustainable tourism rather than profit. 

2. PORTABLE WIND TURBINE CHARGES ELECTRONICS ON THE GO

Photo source GIGA Turbines by Windward Engineering

UK-based Windward Engineering created a portable wind turbine to charge electronic devices. Unlike portable solar panels, it can charge day or night.

The GIGA 5V turbine is waterproof and portable. It weighs one kilogram and is 325 mm across. It can start charging from 8mph of wind. At 14mph the turbine will output 5W, according to the company. The turbine is a variation of the marine wind turbines the company produces for battery maintenance on yachts and other types of vehicles.

3. APP GIVES TOURISTS REAL-TIME ACCESS TO LOCAL ADVICE

Photo source Unsplash

The South Korean app Sidekick gives travellers immediate access to locals via text messaging. Samsung workers Scott Barrow and Jungwon Yang say that app works like a “concierge in your pocket”. The two created the app when they realised how much they depended on texting local colleagues for advice when travelling. 

Sidekick links tourists with locals via text apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and LINE. Locals provide advice in real-time on everything from the nearest bakery to questions about local customs. Sidekick access costs €18 a day and is available in one, three or five day packages. The service is currently available in South Korea, with plans to expand to Japan and elsewhere. The local guides provide advice in English, Korean and Japanese. 

4. WORLD’S FIRST ALL-ELECTRIC PASSENGER PLANE

Photo source Pixabay

Israeli startup Eviation sold its first batch of electric, short-haul passenger planes to US regional airline Cape Air. The planes have the potential to make air travel more economical and environmentally friendly.

Alice has already won several awards. The plane is battery-powered, can carry nine passengers and can travel for 650 miles at a cruising speed of 240 knots (276 mph). It will produce zero emissions and will be cheaper to operate thanks to the battery and electric motors, Eviation says. Alice reportedly costs €4 million and is expected to be on the market in 2022.

5. ECO-FRIENDLY AEROPLANE TRAYS MADE FROM COFFEE GROUNDS

Photo source Priestmangoode

UK-based PriestmanGoode design studio created eco-friendly replacements for the trays and food containers used on commercial flights. 

The designers used food waste and other biodegradable material to replace plastic. For instance, the reusable tray is a mixture of coffee grounds and husks. The single-use containers for food dishes are made from wheat bran. PriestmanGoode even created capsules from seaweed to hold milk and other sauces. 

Jo Rowan, Associate Strategy Director at PriestmanGoode says design offers a way to “look at how we can make things better.” That can develop ways to “minimise resources and waste” and “encourage change in consumer behaviour”.

6. WECHAT MINI-PROGRAM HELPS CHINESE TOURISTS IN FINLAND

Photo source Visit Finland

To increase Helsinki’s appeal, the city launched a custom WeChat app called MyHelsinki to help Chinese travellers navigate their way around the sights. Helsinki has become increasingly popular among Chinese tourists in recent years while WeChat has become China’s most popular e-commerce and payment platform, with more than 1 billion active monthly users.

The My Helsinki WeChat app works as a mini-program inside the WeChat ecosystem. The app includes advice, in Chinese, for what to do in Helsinki, based on local recommendations. It also integrates the Finnish mobility-as-a-service app Whim, allowing Chinese visitors to purchase travel tickets within the mini-program. 

7. HOSPITALITY PLATFORM BUILDS ECOSYSTEM FOR TRAVELLING, DIGITAL NOMADS

Photo source Manuel Moreno on Unsplash

Latin American travel platform Selina is developing a new hospitality ecosystem that aims to do it all, made up of places to stay, bars and restaurants, tours, wellness and education offerings, co-working and community.

Selina’s accommodation, whether in trendy cities or on remote beaches, focuses on design. Every room is different, and furnishings and decoration are often hand made by local artisans. They all feature co-working spaces, high-speed internet, and community space. Many locations also include wellness activities such as yoga and meditation, surf lessons, parties, movie rooms, and volunteering opportunities.

The concept was founded in Panama by two Israeli travellers who wanted to change the way that people travelled. Starting from a single location in a Panamanian beach town, Selina has grown to 22 locations in 7 countries.