By the year 2040, international travel will be a faster, easier and more ecologically sustainable activity than ever before, according to a report commissioned by Allianz Partners to help prepare for the travel-related needs of their customers in the future. Allianz Partners is a world leader in B2B2C assistance and insurance solutions, delivering global protection and care, and offers dedicated travel insurance services through the Allianz Travel brand.
Authored by internationally renowned futurologist, Ray Hammond, ‘The World in 2040’ futurology series presents likely future developments and trends that will impact international travel and the traveler experience over the next 20 years. The report identifies key trends which will, collectively, revolutionize the travel landscape by 2040:
1. Virtual & Augmented Reality
Multi-sensory virtual reality technology will allow armchair travel planners to ‘step into’ virtual hotel rooms, visit street carnivals, explore museums or walk into restaurants, from the comfort of their own living room. This trend is expected to fuel an appetite for more real-life travel, rather than hinder it.
2. Instant check-in thanks to new technology
Facial pattern recognition systems are already in experimental use at airports and within 20 years, computer systems that can reliably identify your face will be in widespread use to check-in seamlessly.
3. Hotel software assistants
While some luxury hotels will greet their guests with a human face, many business and budget hotels will use automated check-in and guidance to rooms provided by software assistants. Some hotels will even provide robotic baggage carriers to move luggage.
4. Super-fast trains
Cross-border train journeys will be smoother and much improved in many parts of the world. Computer networks and the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) will manage national and international rail networks, allowing trains to run faster and closer together. Train speed will also increase on most rail networks, with most high-speed trains running at speeds above 125 mph.
5. On-site 3D clothes printing
In 2040, it will be possible to send your measurements to your hotel in advance of your arrival and heavy or bulky clothes (e.g. raincoats or shoes) will have been printed out to await your arrival, reducing the amount of luggage the tourist of 2040 will have to transport. The low cost of 3D printed garments means travelers will be able to leave the clothes behind for local recycling.
6. Sustainable cruises
Cruise ships will be far more environmentally friendly than today’s giant ocean liners. Vessels will be powered by Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), a light fossil fuel with almost no greenhouse gas emissions, transforming cruise vacations into one of the greenest ways to travel the world. The range of cruise destinations will also continue to grow, with Asia proving particularly fertile ground.
7. Space as a regular destination
For some travelers in 2040, the world may not be enough as it may not offer a sufficiently large choice of destinations. By that time, it’s likely that tourists will be flying to and from the Moon on a regular basis as they seek the experience of seeing the Earth from space.
Commenting on the transformation expected for travelers by 2040, Ray Hammond said: “The face of travel as we know it will change dramatically over the next 20 years. Airline passenger numbers are forecast to double by that time and the travel industry is coming under increasing pressure from travelers for faster and more efficient travel experiences. By 2040, personal software assistants will be sufficiently intelligent to help travelers book their trips online and they will be able to cope with all the complexities of multi-destination travel planning in order to meet the needs of the traveler. Travel will also become more about rejuvenation, adventure, fulfillment and learning new skills rather than just ticking off places to see from a list.”
Speaking about the impact of the report for the business, Joe Mason, Chief Marketing Officer at Allianz Partners, Travel Line of Business, said: “The ‘Future Travel Experience’ report allows Allianz Partners to foresee the trends and changes in travel so we can work towards redefining travel insurance. This includes the delivery of new innovative products and services, while also building more value for our partners and customers. We are already shifting our focus from travel insurance to travel protection as we move from a reactive customer service approach to a more proactive care approach. Our customers will benefit from this shift through more responsive claims processes, more sophisticated mobile solutions, and a greater sense of safety, security, and overall well-being when Allianz Partners accompanies them throughout their journeys.
“Though some aspects of travel should be much less stressful by the year 2040, there will still be some familiar risks for travelers to contend with, along with some new ones. Unforeseen trip cancelations, delays and emergencies abroad will continue to happen, meaning that travelers will continue to need travel protection and assistance services to travel with peace of mind.”
Video Conferencing Stock Soars As Offices Shut Down Over Coronavirus Worries
As the reported cases of the coronavirus increase here in the US, a few companies are taking pre-emptive measures and shutting down their offices to everyone except the most critical employees.
On Tuesday, Google announced that all of its North American employees, more than 100,000 in total, should work from home effective immediately and plan on working from home until April 10th at the earliest.
The company also banned visitors to its New York and San Francisco Bay Area offices.
It’s the latest major company to ask its employees to stay home in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Apple, Amazon and Facebook have already asked employees to cut back on travel and work from home if possible.
The outbreak has also had a major effect on conferences and public events. Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit and Adobe Summit 2020 were cancelled, and Google and Microsoft plan on making their upcoming conferences digital only.
While these major companies have solutions in place to keep their employees connected and working at full capacity during the coronavirus outbreak, millions of small and mid-size businesses don’t have a go-to solution to keep employees connected if offices are shut down.
Most will face a decision in the coming weeks: if we close our business and allow our employees to work from home, how will we maintain communication to keep the business running?
For many the solution will be video conferencing, and it presents an opportunity for investors who expect an uptick in business over the next few weeks and months for these platforms as more and more businesses take advantage of their capabilities.
Here are three publicly traded video conference companies to consider:
GoToMeeting (owned by LogMeIn, ticker: LOGM) – offers solutions for businesses of all sizes and is compatible with all operating systems and mobile devices. It can support up to 25 unique users in a meeting with a high-definition video feed (more can join with a standard definition feed) and all meetings are recorded and stored.
Xoom (ticker: ZM) – offers scheduled and ad-hoc meetings in personal meeting rooms, video webinars and conferencing rooms. All meetings are saved and stored on the cloud, and meetings can support up to 1,000 video participants and 10,000 viewers.
Skype (owned by Microsoft, ticker: MSFT) – the original and possibly the most popular video conferencing app. Skype users have the ability to call phones without the other party using Skype, an additional benefit that other platforms don’t offer. Also has high-definition video conferencing, live subtitles, screen sharing, webinars and the ability to send SMS text messages.
Of the three stocks above, Zoom has had the best return year-to-date, jumping an impressive 59.45%. Just last week the company reported Q4 2019 results and revenue increased 78% year-over-year to $188.3 million. Most importantly, the company reported that the number of customers with 10 or more employees increased 61% year-over-year.
This is the company that could grab the most business in the weeks and months ahead as more and more businesses shift to video conferencing to keep employees connected during the coronavirus outbreak.
Amazon Profits Surge as Investment in Faster Shipping Pays Off
Amazon’s massive investment in faster shipping paid off for the tech company over the Christmas holidays with record sales and four times as many customers taking advantage of its free one-day shipping offer over the shopping season compared with last year.
Amazon is spending billions making one-day shipping the default for its Prime members and the gamble helped drive its revenues up over $87bn for the final quarter of 2019, or $29bn a month, compared with $72.4bn in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Profits increased to $3.3bn in the fourth quarter, up from $3bn in the same period last year, after a fall of 25% from July to September due to its costly shipping investments. Amazon’s shares shot up over 10% in after-hours trading.
“We’ve made Prime delivery faster – the number of items delivered to US customers with Prime’s free one-day and same-day delivery more than quadrupled this quarter compared to last year,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.
Amazon’s bumper Christmas – the best in its history – came as other retailers including Target, Macy’s and JC Penney have reported lower sales.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing business, reported revenues of $9.9bn for the quarter, up 34% from the year-ago period.
Amazon also gave an update on its number of Prime subscribers, who pay an annual fee for faster shipping and access to free content on its streaming media services. Bezos said the company now has over 150 million paid Prime members around the world, up from 100 million last April.
Amazon’s share price has lagged its tech giant peers in recent months as investors have worried about its spending. The latest results push the company back into the exclusive club of tech companies now valued at over $1tn including Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft.
Copyright © 2020 theguardian.com. All rights reserved.
NASA Selects First Commercial Destination Module for International Space Station
NASA has selected Axiom Space of Houston to provide at least one habitable commercial module to be attached to the International Space Station as the agency continues to open the station for commercial use.
“NASA has once again recognized the hard work, talent, and experience of Houstonians as we expand the International Space Station and promote commercial opportunities in space,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “I’m proud Axiom will continue to build upon Texas’ legacy of leading the nation in human space exploration.”
This selection is a significant step toward enabling the development of independent commercial destinations that meet NASA’s long-terms needs in low-Earth orbit, beyond the life of the space station, and continue to foster the growth of a robust low-Earth orbit economy.
“Today’s announcement is an exciting and welcome step forward in the efforts to commercialize low-Earth orbit,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. “This partnership between NASA and Axiom Space – a Houston, Texas original – illustrates how critically important the International Space Station is, and will continue to be, for developing new technologies for low-Earth orbit and beyond, and for continuing America’s leadership in space. Congratulations to Axiom Space on this exciting award – Houston is known as Space City for a reason, and I look forward to this great Space City company and NASA turning this announcement into reality.”
The element will attach to the space station’s Node 2 forward port to demonstrate its ability to provide products and services and begin the transition to a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy in which NASA is one of many customers. NASA and Axiom next will begin negotiations on the terms and price of a firm-fixed-price contract with a five-year base performance period and a two-year option.
“Congratulations to Axiom Space! This is not only a win for Texas, Johnson Space Center, and the International Space Station, it is also a great step forward for NASA as we move towards an increased commercial presence in low-Earth orbit,” said Rep. Brian Babin of Texas. “I am proud to see this work coming to Space City – Houston, Texas – as the Lone Star State continues to lead in space exploration well into the future.”
Developing commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit is one of five elements of NASA’s plan to open the International Space Station to new commercial and marketing opportunities. The other elements of the five-point plan include efforts to make station and crew resources available for commercial use through a new commercial use and pricing policy; enable private astronaut missions to the station; seek out and pursue opportunities to stimulate long-term, sustainable demand for these services; and quantify NASA’s long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit.
“Axiom’s work to develop a commercial destination in space is a critical step for NASA to meet its long-term needs for astronaut training, scientific research, and technology demonstrations in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We are transforming the way NASA works with industry to benefit the global economy and advance space exploration. It is a similar partnership that this year will return the capability of American astronauts to launch to the space station on American rockets from American soil.”
NASA selected Axiom from proposals submitted in response to a solicitation through Appendix I of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) 2 Broad Agency Announcement, which offered private industry use of the station utilities and a port to attach one or more commercial elements to the orbiting laboratory.
Because commercial destinations are considered a key element of a robust economy in low-Earth orbit, NASA also plans to issue a final opportunity to partner with the agency in the development of a free-flying, independent commercial destination. Through these combined efforts to develop commercial destinations, NASA is set to meet its long-term needs in low-Earth orbit well beyond the life of the station.
The agency will continue to need low-Earth orbit microgravity research and testing to enable future missions to the Moon and Mars, including the arrival of the first woman and next man on the Moon with the Artemis III mission as part of the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.
Learn more about NASA’s efforts to develop a robust low-Earth orbit economy here.
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