The market for wearable technology, such as smartwatches and VR headsets, continues to soar and find new niches. Predictions have growth annualised at anywhere between 18 – 25% reaching levels of 70-130 million units per annum by 2021.
While the Apple Watch may be the most well-known piece of wearable tech, the range and technology continues to expand, now incorporating jewellery, glasses, patient ID tags, luggage and even clothing. The development of wearable tech has given users access to information, contacts and apps in an even more convenient way than a tablet or smartphone ever could. The more advanced and accessible these devices become, the easier it will be for business travellers to stay connected, productive and healthy while travelling.
A Forbes study showed employees equipped with wearable technology reported an 8.5% increase in productivity and a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction. One in six consumers currently own and use wearable technology and companies are beginning to test wearables in basic use cases like workplace security access (23%), employee time management (20%), and real-time employee communication (20%).
Employees equipped with wearable technology reported an 8.5% increase in productivity and a 3.5% increase in job satisfaction.
Wearables for business travellers
As the technology continues to develop the price will inevitably come down, leading to higher usage and further iterations and applications. Wearables provide a great opportunity in the business travel space given the propensity for them to be “always on”, meaning the wearers are readily accessible wherever they are in the world.
One of the changes accruing through lower pricing and production of both hardware and software is the beginning of wearable technology being utilised by airlines, hotels and other travel suppliers to customise and personalise their services. Having wearable technology with guests allows data usage and guest patterns to be analysed for future service offerings. The same approach to employees having wearable technology allows for greater efficiency and delivery of services in an industry where having the right information at the right time to deliver the right services is paramount. Following the launch of the Apple Watch, major airlines around the world have released apps that allow their passengers to store boarding passes and flight information, as well as receive real-time flight status updates. The apps have helped to fast track the boarding process with passengers able to scan their boarding passes simply with the flick of their wrist.
Safety and security
More applications for business travel programs will come online as the proliferation of this technology continues. Safety and security is of course one key aspect that can begin to be integrated into future travel program plans and is already being integrated into some of the more safety focused travel programs. Wearables present an opportunity for real-time tracking and location of employees during crisis situations, rather than relying on simply itinerary data or mobile phones, which may not always be carried by employees. Two-way wearable communication also fits into this situation, working with “proof of life” solutions for those employers that travel to high-risk locations.
New innovations in wearable technology and the applications to business travel and travel in general will continue to evolve over time. When combined with all the other exciting technology advances occurring it is safe to say that staying abreast of these trends and ensuring you partner with an innovative travel management company is integral to planning for a successful travel program in the years to come.
Author: Scott Ward, CTM’s Head of Partnerships.
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