The Digitization of Travel: Part 11 – Trends

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Almost everyone interviewed for this report felt the next big thing in travel is the continuing rise of smart-phones and tablets. From being able to make payment and view complex travel itineraries, to learning where to get the best thin-crust pizza in a small Cambodian town, our Panels agrees, highly portable devices will be an integral part of travel in the coming years.

“It’s simply going to be easier and easier to plan a trip and get accurate information while traveling,” says guidebook writer Trevor Ranges. “Really, you might not even need to plan, as you’ll arrive at the airport with a smart-phone and have everything you need to know and the means to figure out where you need to go and how to get there at your fingertips.”

He sees an even more powerful future in translation applications. “I think the next big thing will be translation software that will allow you to communicate with locals in their language, greatly enhancing the experience travelers have while visiting foreign lands.” “I believe once the language barrier is overcome, visitors being able to ask a local, “Where is your favorite noodle shop?” this will make travel that much more enriching. The insight of local populations on their hometown attractions is as valuable as tips on the best boutique hotels from experienced foreign travel writers.”

Earth Cubed founder Greg Michaels takes things one step further and sees complex algorithms playing a major role in planning your trip. “Imagine the following super-website: you go there and you enter the places you want to visit and the amount of time. Instantly you get an itinerary with international airfare, hotels, train and bus times, local guides, adventure activities, out-of-the way places to see, etc. And you get the price. All of the hotels, connections and preferences of guides, or not, would be exactly what you’re looking for, because you will have used the website in the past, rated some hotels, connections, and it already knows what kind of traveling you like to do. If you ever wanted to spend more time at the site you could have fed the algorithm even more information about your preferences. And if you were visiting it for the first time, it might ask you a few questions, but the default itineraries would be attractive to many people. So this is instant trips that satisfy what you’re looking for.”

Having more at your fingertips isn’t necessarily a positive thing says publisher Mason Florence, “Technology is already now so that you can turn on your smart-phone and it will tell you where to get the best pepperoni pizza near you, who’s cooking and about the tables.” “Everything is really getting automated and the information is getting more and more detailed. It’s getting so easy you don’t need to think anymore or speak to people. I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Phnom Penh hotelier Alexis Suremain is showcasing as much of his hotels online as possible and sees a possibly unusual coming trend. “At the moment our website has pictures of the garden, 360-degree-views of the room, description of the food, you’re almost trying to give guests an experience through the internet that’s as close to what they’re going to experience for real. At some point some people might just be sitting at home enjoying a remote room. You might not have to go there and this might kill some of the tourism.”

“Customers will be expecting to be able to interact with any company using their phone to book and buy and pay for products,” says Grasshopper Adventures founder Jason Williams. “I think it will get to the point where having a mobile website version will need to be standard for any business in much the same way that having a regular website now is considered mandatory for a company. “

Ken Fish, founder of Absolute Travel (AT) takes a bit more of a holistic approach to where things are headed, “I’ve been in business 22 years; I can’t say I had a vision of where I wanted to be when I started. I feel it’s more critical now to know where you want to be.” “I think travel is going to be determined by the state of society, our civilization, our ability to live together, environmental situations, be it man-made or natural, we have to be able to live together.” “You’re going to see some wonderful experiences; people are going to be able to travel to very remote places, see people living their lives and interact. The world is going to be very much connected and we’re not going to be able to keep anyone any one way, but you’re going to be able to access experiences for people that weren’t achievable 20 years ago.”

While Fish has an earthy approach in some respects, he’s keeping his company on the cutting edge of what’s possible in the industry. “We [AT] are going to develop our ability to be very connected all over the world with people who can do very special things. I want to be able to pick up my phone and know wherever I have someone, in a word, something is taken care of and I can make something happen. It’s a question of getting people special experiences anywhere, anytime. Using technology I want to sell travel to anyone, anywhere going to any destination.”

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Comments

  1. wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Michel

    It’s nice to travel and forget about digital; to open our eyes and discover for ourselves.

  2. wrote on June 19th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Steele Davis

    I agree Michel – sometimes, all to much people are chatting with those at home, posting what they are doing instead of just enjoying.
    Thanks for reading my piece and leaving a comment.
    Happy Trails…

    Scott

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