Forget space flight and flying cars – that’s kids stuff. The real, not-so-distant future of the humble business trip is sleek, intuitive and efficient. Read on for a glimpse of the changes coming in the next few years of corporate travel:

Handheld heaven

No longer is social media simply a tool for engagement with friends and family – smart travel companies are ramping up campaigns, promotions, and offers available only to followers and fans, which means that travelers of the future will be claiming more free gifts, upgrades, insider info, and travel advice via their newsfeeds and twitter notifications. More and more valuable information will be stored in smartphones, so that eventually we should be able to breeze through customs, book a rental car, and check into a hotel simply by flashing an electronic ID stored on our phones. Paper passports are very much on the way out.

Humans go home

This is actually good news. Robotics and computer technology makes things like security and immigration lines faster and more efficient, as seen already with the ‘global entry’ machines available in Canada and the U.S.. Holographic assistants  have already been introduced at Washington Dulles, Boston Logan and other select airports, and are likely to become a commonplace feature at stations such as check-in and booking desks.

Never Offline

No longer can the business traveller throw their hands up and say they missed an important email or video call because they were stranded at an airport in Xingdao; with competitive mobile companies offering cheaper roaming packages with more geographical reach, and airports beginning to offer free sponsored WiFi, your connection from home office to hotel or furnished apartment will be seamless. In-air connection is also likely to become common in the future, with Lufthansa recently taking the first step in allowing unrestricted use of handheld devices on their planes.

Hands Free

Great news for those sick of lugging a heavy carry-on through duty free. The luggage of the future is remote controlled, and will follow you around the airport without you having to lift a finger – guided by sensors linked to your phone. Same for your rental car – right now some of them can park themselves, but it won’t be long before your vehicle moves minus the chauffeur.

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