Magazine article USA TODAY

Changes Ahead for Travelers

Magazine article USA TODAY

Changes Ahead for Travelers

Article excerpt

Business travel largely will be unnecessary, but people will do it anyway, forecast futurists Peter E. Tarlow and Mitchell J. Muehsam. Advances in visual telephones and in improved computer networking will decrease the need for business travel, saving both money and time, they indicated to the World Future Society.

"Business people will no longer be required to travel from one spot to another to close deals. Rather, they'll negotiate 'face to face' via electronic conferencing and sign contracts despite being physically separated by thousands of miles. Similarly, families divided by great distances will remain electronically connected with each other."

Meanwhile, travel will become faster, cheaper, and more comfortable, and, as the world becomes more interconnected, corporations will want to send even their lower-level executives on international fact-finding missions. One reason costs will come down is that individuals will be able to make their transportation and lodging arrangements themselves on their personal computers. Another is that robots will perform a multitude of services such as greeting guests, babysitting, and providing security. "While some guests may resent the loss of the human touch, robots will allow travel industries to offer more consistent service, working tirelessly through peak seasons and retiring uncomplainingly into storage during the off-season. …

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