Google Glass – The Next Big Thing in the Travel Industry?

In 2012, Google announced plans to create what many considered to be the next and logical step for mobile devices – interactive glasses known as, err, Glass.


Now, the fundamental questions are: Will people REALLY wear this gadget? What will be the adoption rate to make it a success?

Glass is entirely different from most other tech gadgets created so far (aimed at consumers), simply because it sits ON the face – users have to WEAR it to experience it and use the services.

Some things to bear in mind:

  • Who knew people would use fingers to operate a mobile phone instead of traditional stylus? But, it happened through iPhone.
  • Who knew people would happily put a tiny device in their the ear to communicate, despite looking like Secret Service agents? But, it happened through hands-free Bluetooth.
  • Who knew people would use a ten inch-sized gadget to take photographs when digital cameras were simultaneously shrinking in size? But, it happened through the iPad/Android tablets.

People adapt, technology evolves.

Google is not alone, of course. Electronic and software giants Apple and Microsoft are also reportedly working on head-mounted display (HMD) and glass devices respectively (Apple’s patents related to HMD:  OneTwoThree. Microsoft’s patent – Here).

Nevertheless, the latest clip from Google illustrates precisely why a device such as Glass could have such a fundamental affect on the travel industry (maybe not this year or next, but at some point):

1. Maps

Users no longer have to key-in destination addresses or pitch-zoom a map to see accurate directions. They just talk to the glass and the directions are shown within the view. Let’s face it, directions cannot get any better.

Google Glass In Travel Industry 1


2. Augmented reality-powered search

This feature is going to be very useful for tourists. Travellers can shun the guidebook to look up details of a location, information appears right in front of the eye. And, in the blink of an eye, users can also photograph what they see.

Google Glass In Travel Industry 2


3. Flight related updates

Your flight itinerary details, real-time update on delays, directions to gate, time it takes to reach the gate – all such information will be available in Glass.

Google Glass In Travel Industry 3

But, that’s not all. The initial version of the video also included Calendar and Google+ integration (inevitably).

Given the fact that Google’s penetration into travel industry is deepening, it’s evident that there might be more features coming up in future that relate . There is no reason why Google would not bring its entire suite of products into Glass by seamlessly integrating all of them.

Initially, travel companies do not have to worry about Glass. But, once the adoption rate is high and the momentum kicks in, travel companies have to give a serious thought about how their products and services feature in a Glass environment, both from a content and functionality perspective.

Travellers might,

  • start expecting Glass to be a default gadget in hotel rooms (like the way iPads are expected now)
  • want to be given a Glass to explore about places when they are on a group guided tour, rather than giving an audio guide device
  • use Glass as the in-flight entertainment system (needless to mention that tablets and Playstations have already become a part of in-flight system)

Probable future use cases of Glass in travel industry:

  • Hotel & Flight search: Ability to do (Google’s) flight and hotel search in Glass. Apart from just pulling the flight/hotel search widgets, Glass also has the potential to show the list of hotels in the city / street that a user is currently in. This takes the usage of Glass to a whole new level. This also means – Hoteliers should list their hotels in Google Maps, mark the correct latitude and longitude and ensure that the hotel gets listed in Google Hotel Finder.
  • Real-time discounts: When a traveller walks in a street, Glass has the potential to show various discount / deal options available at a hotel, restaurant, museum etc. Google Offers might be integrated to achieve this feature. A next step to this would be to make the deals personal, depending on the customer’s previous buying pattern and knowing more details about the customer.
  • Google+ goes big: Without any doubt, Glass will be deeply integrated with Google+. With Google Local (part of G+) already growing and Google+ becoming even bigger, Google’s adwords revenue is going to further shoot up.
  • Passbook in Glass: Apple brings up relevant tickets (flight/movie/concert) on user’s iOS device depending on the location of user. This entire experience can be delivered on Glass.
  • Google Now in Glass: Google Now has features that can show the nearest photo spot and nearby attractions to a place. Given the fact that Glass can identity user’s location, there are enough reasons for Google to integrate these features in Glass.

Above are few of the probable use cases that we could think of. With ever changing technology comes ever increasing cost. From a travel company’s perspective, Glass is a new gadget to watch out for.

Consumers will soon start moving away from being “mobile-savvy” to “glass-savvy”. That paradigm shift is not so far. What this means to you as a business is to plan (budget) for these changing consumer and market behaviours.

Marketers should start thinking from now about leveraging Glass and the time of launch to promote their airline/hotel property/cruise line etc. There is significantly high scope for innovative marketing here.

For example: Recently, released a video in which a person skydives from a plane and lands on Lake Tahoe. During the free-fall he pulls out his mobile, opens the mobile app of and makes a hotel reservation. The point demonstrated was – before he landed on the ground, he completed a hotel reservation. This campaign was to show the SPEED at which customers can make a reservation in mobile app.

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