KLM looks ahead to tech and travel trends for 2020


Travellers are changing the way they search, book and travel. How will technology and passengers influence travel in 2020? In this forecast, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines looks to the future of travel: from booking with the aid of voice technology and sustainable alternatives such as rail services, to facial recognition technology at security.

Gen Z and millennials go for Destination Instagram*

Surveys show that half of Gen Z and millennials consider how ‘Instagrammable’ their destination will be when booking. How many “likes” will it generate? The guarantee of taking beautiful holiday snaps is a prerequisite for 25.8% of them. The photos have to be authentic and taken by them personally. (Also see “Travel Inspiration on social media comes from friends and family” below.)

Travellers increasingly use voice technology to navigate

Many people spend hours consulting search engines and browsing websites for their ideal travel destination. “Smart speakers” are assisting them on their quest, with more and more travellers finding their ideal destination and suitable air tickets using voice technology. KLM’s booking service, which is often consulted with the aid of Google Assistant, is attracting 10% more users every month.

Travel inspiration on social media comes from friends and family*

Instagram is expected to keep growing as a significant source of travel inspiration. Travellers mainly look at posts from friends and family (65.3%) or click on hashtags to seek inspiration from strangers (45.9%). The role of influencers and celebrities as a source of holiday inspiration is declining more and more (14.5%). Also, more than 50% of travellers don’t trust photos of holiday destinations shared by influencers.

Combining air and train travel will become more popular

Sustainability is important and travellers are taking it into account when booking. This is why travel operators are joining forces wherever possible to offer rail tickets for shorter distances as an alternative to flying. KLM will add more options to its website to plan short distances by train. The guiding principle being that the combination of air and rail travel can be planned and booked easily.

Are you compensating for CO2 emissions?

More and more passengers are compensating for their share of carbon emissions. A survey* commissioned by KLM revealed that 38.8% of travellers plan to compensate for CO2 emissions next year. To make it easier and quicker for passengers to do so, KLM is introducing a new quick mobile payment system in 2020.

Your face is your passport

Queues will be shorter at the airport thanks to facial recognition technology. Earlier this year, KLM conducted tests where passengers passed through checkpoints at security, lounges and boarding by showing a selfie in the KLM App on their phones, instead of presenting their passports. The KLM App shows passengers at which airport this technology may be used. More and more passengers will encounter this technology in 2020 when new tests begin. Naturally, it is up to the passenger to decide whether they want to try this digital innovation or not.

AI to shorten waiting times in unforeseen circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances, such as thunderstorms, can lead to flight delays. Artificial Intelligence (AI) helps reduce inconvenience to passengers by rapidly calculating how best to deploy available crews and aircraft. This will further improve flight punctuality in 2020.

Even more luxury and relaxation at the airport

All sorts of innovations will further improve the ways travellers spend their time at the airport. Transfer passengers will find sleeping pods in KLM’s new non-Schengen Crown Lounge or they can enjoy a luxury dinner at Restaurant Blue, with dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Joris Bijdendijk.

Mobile telephone off or at home*

Travellers increasingly prefer to stay off their mobile phone while on holiday, or at least to use it less. On the other hand, they can’t go without a phone altogether. Around 50% of passengers would prefer to use their phones as little as possible on holiday, but also indicate that this is not always possible. Almost a third of passengers would like to travel without a phone, but are afraid they will find this impossible.


KLM on social media

KLM has been a pioneer in social media services and campaigns since 2009. KLM has more than 23 million friends and followers on social media. These channels generate more than 200,000 mentions a week, 35,000 of which are queries and comments. These are answered by a team of 350 service staff, the largest social media team in the world. KLM offers customer support 24/7 on WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE in ten languages: Dutch, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. KLM was the world’s first airline enabling passengers to receive flight documents and status updates via WhatsApp, Messenger and Twitter. It was also the first Western airline to join the Chinese platform WeChat.

For more information or questions about KLM on social media, please see

* Survey (n = 400) carried out by Factsnapp, commissioned by KLM.