A World-Renowned Futurist Reveals The Hotel Of The Future
World-renowned global futurist Dr. James Canton envisions hotel experiences that include supersonic travel and DNA-driven spa treatments, so what can we expect in the next decade? Canton, a former Apple Computer executive, author and social scientist, worked in conjunction with Hotels.com, to present the Hotels of the Future Study at a recent conference in San Francisco. In the study he describes hotels with everything from RoboButlers and virtual reality entertainment to hotel restaurants based on gourmet genomics and the emergence of neurotechnology to make sleep more refreshing. Canton, who has advised three White House Administrations and over 100 companies, believes these megatrends will shape the future of the hotel experience and that the RoboButler is the change we will most likely see first. Although, he also notes that plans are already underway for a supersonic hyperloop route from Los Angeles to New York City. Canton kindly agreed to give Forbes readers a more in-depth look at his thinking. Below he weighs in on what all of this will look like and why we should embrace the next wave of technology.
Describe the difference between a spa today and a future spa that focuses on longevity.
Canton: The next generation of wellness spas will include technologies, treatments and programs not currently available today. The level of enhancement here will truly be mind-blowing. The hotel spa of the future is based on predictive health diagnostics, customized nutrition analysis and DNA analysis and promotes living a longer life. Virtual Doctors, really artificial intelligence bots, will design a lifestyle, diet, exercise and even a career path that may enhance your emotional intelligence as well as your fitness. You will receive personalized prevention treatments, prediction and health enhancement programs designed to refresh your health, your fitness and help you to understand future health risks and how to live longer and healthier. These will also prevent disease and use the latest genetic medicine treatment, mind refreshing neutraceuticals, diet and brain fitness exercises. A comprehensive Personal Health Future Plan will be the objective of the spa of the future.
Which of these trends is most likely to come into fruition first—and are most of these within reach in the next few decades?
Canton: In the Hotels.com Hotels of the Future Study I predict that the top trend will be RoboButlers. These autonomous robots will have artificial intelligence and social skills to be service bots. They can be designed online before arrival and be programmed with special talents, skills, languages and information to help make the hotel stay exceptional. They will do everything from greeting guests at the airport, to offering gourmet food service, room makeup, companionship, education, entertainment, business advice and concierge services. Many of these trends are within reach within the next few decades but some will be available in the next few years, such as: RoboButlers, virtual reality entertainment, longevity Spa’s and 3D printers in the rooms.
RoboButlers and programmed Dream Cycles seem so unnatural in a way, why should we be excited about these concepts for the future? What should we be cautious about?
Canton: The reason we should be excited about this Hotels of the Future Study is because it showcases how innovation may positively enrich the hotel and travel experience. Many innovations at first may have seemed strange but have become part of our culture over time with positive effects. This is true for computers, mobile phone, virtual reality and even TV. All of these trends are forecasted with the intention of enhancing the travel and in room experience for consumers. RoboButlers will be personalized and designed to be appealing by the consumer, as one example I would suggest that is coming soon. The emergence of neurotechnology to make sleep more refreshing is coming now. This would be preferred to taking sleep drugs by many in the future, I would forecast. We’ll be able to see predictive travel analytics anticipate what consumers want from their experience before booking. The hotel booking itself will be helped along by artificial intelligence software agents, using data mining and intuitive computing. The new travel design science will help create highly personalized in-stay experiences. And it doesn’t end when you check out, because new analytics will also ensure lifelong travel fulfillment. All in all, RoboButlers and dream cycles will play a part in providing an extremely customized travel experience for consumers and hotels to enrich their travel experience.
How is a themed-hotel any different than the themed hotels we have now at Disney World?
Canton: Hotels in the future will have themes based on immersive worlds. Hotels will become entertainment experiences that we can only imagine today. Travelers can expect a fully interactive live event location, where the hotel is completely immersed in its determined character. Consumers could interact in real-time or by virtual reality. Imagine a Call of Duty World enabling combat gaming competitions between networked hotel communities; a Roman World with chariot races; or a Renaissance World complete with costumes and customized androids, story lines, drama and action. These experiences will become Alternative Travel Lifestyles, enhancing the consumers experience beyond what we see today.
How will the self-driving pods, roboflying cars, and hyperloop make airport transfers better? Which one do you see as most promising?
Canton: The future of airport transfers is high tech and high speed. The self-driving pods and RoboFlying cars will help you avoid the traffic, and larger developments such as the Hyper Loop – supersonic air travel, will cover hundreds of kilometers in seconds. I see the Hyper Loop as being the most promising as it’s already in development today and will provide an expedited mode of fast and safe mass transportation. Already there are plans for a Los Angeles to New York Hyperloop route.
What are gourmet genomics and why would they be appealing to travelers?
Canton: Gourmet genomics refers to food designed by the hotel for the individual’s palate; all based on your personalized DNA analysis conducted by advanced nutrition, food technologies, master chefs and artificial intelligence. Before you even arrive at your hotel, your diet and nutrition menu will be designed based on your DNA and optimized for your health—to better enhance your wellness and longevity but also to delight your taste buds. The menu is created to improve health, nutrition and fitness, but the food will still be gourmet and delicious. And the best part of this innovation that you will be able to enjoy all your favorite foods without a concern about them adding to your weight or damaging your health future.