The Future Looks Seamless: Attending to Friction in Travel and Tourism.

Authors: O'Regan, M.

Start date: 2 November 2017

ravel and Tourism are sectors that have increasingly seen “desire paths” or “low friction” built into many systems, technologies, products and services. Travel and tourism is rendered “frictionless”as hotel apps create seamless hotel check – in, transit systems use technology to make journeys more friction free and online platforms such as Airbnb generate the illusory of ‘friction-free’ exchange through the absence of paperwork and frictionless payment systems. While friction is not a new topic for mobilities studies, this paper argues that the concept of friction be placed at the heart of research as the sectors become organised by successful, persuasive, seamless and friction-free practices that overcome the friction of distance. As travel and tourism sectors seek to remove friction for some (connected to signs of class, gender, age, and ability), and force it upon others; this session brings different forms of mobility, turbulence, friction, speed and intensities of encounter to life. By analysing the utopia around frictionless as a heuristic device, the paper challenges our assumptions about where frictionless discourses have emerged from the past and whether its leading to a dystopia future.

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