New academic research aims to revolutionise paper used by the travel industry to become an interactive interface that connects to the internet.
Travel brands will potentially be able to create disposable interactive print magazines with multi-sensory functionality that will truly ‘bring to life’ holiday experiences by playing local sounds and generating scents, with 360° images.
The next generation paper could also trigger a breakthrough in return on investment measurement of traditional offline marketing, offering the ability to track customer responses via buttons that click-through to brand pages.
This would enable brands to track offline marketing in a similar way to digital marketing.
The paper could even have the capability to automatically dial a phone number or trigger an online search on the potential customer’s behalf.
The new technology will enable consumers to simultaneously explore a combination of printed and digital materials when planning and enjoying their holiday – from browsing travel brochures, booking their trip, reading guide books, posting reviews and sharing their experiences on social media.
The project, a collaboration between the University of Surrey and Emirates Holidays, will start by producing of a series of interactive travel guidebooks which tourists will be invited to test out alongside creating photobooks of their own travel experiences.
Emirates Holidays had a crucial role in the successful bid for project funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council by contributing industry-insight which shaped the proposal.
The operator will be working alongside travel guidebook partner Bradt Travel Guides to support the creation of the prototype technology, and will potentially be the first to trial the new paper within the travel industry.
Emirates Holidays UK managing director Niel Alobaidi said: “We’re extremely excited to be involved in the development of this pioneering technology which we know has the potential to revolutionise the travel industry.
“Emirates Holidays is fortunate to have had a long-standing relationship with the University of Surrey and we are delighted to be strengthening our ties with the university on such an industry-first project.
“We know the university offers students a world-class introduction to tourism management which is why we employ several students on a one year graduate placement scheme and are also working with final year students on a digital marketing module.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the next generation paper technology, as well as our ongoing partnership with the university.”
Professor Caroline Scarles, head of school of hospitality and tourism management at the university, said: “The project brings the opportunity for industry and academia to work closely and think creatively about how we bridge the gap between digital platforms and the hard copy publications such as guidebooks or brochures that continue to hold a firm place in travel decision making.
“Key players from travel professionals like our trusted partner Emirates Holidays, to tourists, technology experts and academics will come together to re-think how to integrate technology into these core travel behaviours as tourists make decisions about where they travel to, how they move around within destinations and how they share their experiences.
“By developing prototypes that draw upon a range of visual and audio content activated through the paper itself to enrich the detail on the printed page, the collaboration will challenge both the industry partners and the academics involved to bring the real potential of next generation paper to life.”