Hyperloop and the future of travel tech

Nadege Noblet-Segers ... ATM to explore latest trends

Before he sent his sports car into orbit, Elon Musk had a vision for a transport system through which pods, propelled by magnets and solar, would move passengers faster than a Boeing 747.

Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, and the founder of Pay Pal, committed the idea to a 2013 white paper titled Hyperloop Alpha. He released the plans publicly, so the world’s leading start-ups could use them as a blueprint to put the technology into development.

The most prominent of these, Hyperloop One, is backed by Dubai-based DP World with its group chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, sitting on the board of directors.

But what does this have to do with the UAE’s fast-growing tourism industry?

While DP World’s plans link Jebel Ali Port with an inland cargo depot, they also lay the foundations for passenger loops in the UAE. Hyperloop One has signed further plans with Dubai RTA, which means the UAE will likely be home to another world first within five years.

The first project on this drawing board links Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes, potentially presenting tourists with the chance to take advantage of sci-fi travel times. As a result, international and domestic business travel would flourish with the system boosting inter-emirate tourism. Further, at 700mph, the ride is a bucket-list experience in itself.

In the future, other emirates could be linked. Designs to connect Dubai and Fujairah with a 10-minute travel time helped French entrants Mobius win Dubai Future Foundation’s Hyperloop Competition in 2016.

Of course, Hyperloop isn’t the only thing set to innovate tourism in the UAE. The country has placed innovation and technology at the heart of its strategy to build a knowledge economy and this has attracted some of the world’s most revolutionary thinkers to develop and launch new solutions here.

In hospitality, the market has adopted and pioneered many of these, from apps and remote check in, to enhanced security features, guest recognition services, BYOC, and BOYD, to name a few. Behind the scenes, technological innovation has seen the introduction of smart building management to effortlessly reduce environmental impact, as well as new ways to manage and mine guest data for enhanced and personalised marketing.

The opportunities are truly endless.

According to Colliers International, cloud passports, virtual reality and apps are just some of the trends predicted to re-shape consumer habits and marketing strategies over the short to mid-term, along with an evolution in job functions to enable the developments.

Testament to the importance of innovation in the industry, travel tech has outpaced has remained the fastest growing area at Arabian Travel Market, with a 12% increase in tech exhibitors in 2017 and more than 1,700 seminar delegates and participants.

As we propel towards a very bright future, the latest trends will be explored in the Travel Tech Theatre, which will be sponsored by Sabre at this year’s ATM. Celebrating its 25th year, ATM 2018, will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25.

* The writer is exhibition manager at Arabian Travel Market