7 November 2019

AR – A new type of holiday experience

Interview with Chris Carmichael, Head of Innovation at TUI Destination Experiences, on the potential applications of augmented reality (AR) in tourism.

What opportunities does Augmented Reality (AR) offer the tourism industry?

Chris Carmichael: In the short term, AR could be a whole new way for our guests to get personalised experiences and information while they are on an excursion with TUI. Moving further into the future, I’m expecting that wearable technology, such as glasses, will take over from smartphones. Our guests will then expect us to have an Augmented Reality service for their own wearable devices, just as they expect a Smartphone app today.

What are currently the challenges and obstacles?

Carmichael: It is still very early days for portable Augmented Reality. There should be some rapid changes in AR technology over the next few years and we could potentially see some early adopters starting to use it in their day to day. As always with new technology, we will go through a lot of promising stages before it really meets all our expectations. One of the key expectations is ensuring we can offer the best possible guest experience and something as big and as heavy as a smartphone in front of your face is not suitable. The AR glasses manufacturers are looking at new ways of shrinking the technology and batteries, while continuously enhancing the viewing experience. Additionally, we need to learn a whole new design language for these devices – the move from the PC to the Smartphone was relatively simple as you could still move a pointer around a screen and then type on a keyboard – these new devices won’t have a mouse or a keyboard, so we need to understand the best way of doing things.

How could vacation trips change in a few years by AR?

Carmichael: For me, the end to end journey will be much easier for the customer as everything you need will be available right in front of you at all times. This means no looking for screens to find your check-in desk or boarding gate at the airport, instant directions to the best rated or closest restaurant in the terminal, and then unmissable reminders when it is time to board. When you extrapolate this type of integration and information across the whole journey and holiday, you have a guest that is better informed and more independent than ever before, while also more connected to TUI and our specialist knowledge and services.


Chris Carmichael has been working in travel since 1991 and online travel since 1997, focusing on mobile since 2004, and leading innovation since 2006. During that time he has delivered many customer focused products for British Airways and TUI. In TUI, Chris leads the Innovation Lab for the Destination Experiences Division, and with a focus on guest experience, he is driving digital innovation to deliver a better holiday experience for over 20 million people a year.