Adobe identifies AR, VR and wearables as travel trends to watch

Augmented and virtual reality, along with wearable technology, will be the new travel industry disruptors, according to a new report from Adobe Digital Insights.

Consumers seem eager to embrace the new trend. In January, when Princess Cruises introduced the Ocean Medallion  – a quarter-sized device that can be worn in several ways and serves as a passenger’s “digital identity” – mentions of travel wearables on social media increased 44% year over year.

Virtual reality also is capturing consumers’ imaginations, the report said. Sales of VR devices were up eightfold for the 2016 holiday season.

The hotel industry is taking notice: Eight major chains have experimented with providing VR experiences to guests in the last six months.

Technology has its down side for some sectors of the industry.

Online car rentals have decreased 14% in the first quarter, and it appears that Uber is eating the industry’s lunch.

Online reservations drop by 2% for every 10% increase in social media mentions. Last year, from March to December, Uber mentions climbed to 6 million while car rental reservations decreased by 28%.

But other travel trends are eroding the car rental industry as well.

International travel to the US decreased by 6% in the first quarter, lessening the need for cars.

As air fares inch upward, more families may opt to drive their own cars rather than fly.

The popularity of one-stop destinations such as cruises and inclusive resorts also have diminished the need for rental cars.

As for air travel, online flight bookings grew more than 20% in the week of Jan. 6. Then, between Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, they stagnated.

Bookings appeared to stabilize in March, and the overall growth for the first quarter was 3.5%. The report offered no insight into the fluctuations.

Travel is a dominant force on social media. It gets about 14 million mentions per month on average. That’s 17% more mentions than Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift combined.

The Adobe report is based on more than 16 billion visits to major US travel websites representing all sectors in the first quarter.

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