Thanksgiving is upon us and we found ourselves a little reflective of a rather large year in travel. So what are we in the travel industry most thankful for this past year? It actually all comes down to technology – you can’t say it doesn’t continue to impact and change the way we travel every day, it’s definitely a brave new travel world and what’s even better, you just don’t know what else is around the corner.
1. We love British Airways’ digital luggage tags trialled last month. It would mean you could check in, get an electronic boarding pass, scan your luggage, drop it off and just head through to the departure lounge. Once your electronic tag is scanned it contains all your baggage details, departure and destination, flight details etc and is automatically updated next time you fly. All using your smartphone of course and let’s face it, if this helps to avoid that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when most of your flight has walked away from the baggage carousel while you stare holes at the carousel entrance, then we’re excited.
2. Google’s Indoor Street View now includes 16 international airports. As visual folk can attest to, having a personal guide on your phone to navigate some of the larger airports in the world is extremely comforting as well as reassuring. How many times have you heard someone mention some great cinema or restaurant that you’ve missed as you’ve tried to navigate those big yellow signs? Definitely the most empowering way to ensure you get the best out of your departure or transit experience.
3. Social Media is said to have had the most impact on the travel industry than any other business as far as engagement and influence goes. We clearly don’t disagree with Wego numbering around 1.5 million fans and followers throughout all our social media networks across all our regions. It’s not only about the advantage of sharing tips and knowledge about the amazing destinations you may or may not have been aware of. It’s about sharing the experience which actually doubles your enjoyment of it in possibly the most incredible form of electronic postcard we could ever imagine.
But it’s becoming more than that. We now have the Twitter Hotel in Spain at the SolWaveHouse where you can flirt by the pool using hashtags, and even order a private party in your suite. We have tourism ambassadors using the power of social media to promote their hometowns, such as our very own Achmad Alkatiri who successfully worked with Tourism Indonesia to promote his beautiful and untouched island of Maluku in Indonesia with a group of high profile bloggers and social media aficionados. One man even undertook an entire journey using Twitter followers to guide him and advise on what to see as he moved through their home-towns. He sometimes even scored a free couch for the night!
4. Technology gives us comfort while we travel. An array of must have gadgets to accompany us are making our journeys far more entertaining and pleasurable. If we don’t manage to score that business class upgrade at least we can get comfy with our noise-cancelling headphones, kindles and tablets to watch the movies of our choice, and tunes to help carry us through the air in the most pleasant possible manner. We know, it’s all about getting there, but there’s a great deal of satisfaction getting all set up in your seat and retreating to some forced peace and quiet that’s all your own.
5. Metasearch of course! The process of planning trips has become so much easier with the continuing advances in metasearch technology developed to gather all available online airfares and hotel rates in one place. Gone are the days of searching copious sites to find the best travel deal, getting frustrated when you discover they’re sometimes not real time rates and starting over. The advances in technology today has even seen Wego employ an ex-NASA physicist to help target your preferences to suit you, making it even easier to have your travel choices delivered directly to you. The business of travel metasearch is getting very serious.
We haven’t even thrown in the new developments in aircraft technology and design but let’s just add that as the cranberry sauce to go with our reasons to be grateful to the continuing progress in travel as more of us journey further and more frequently than ever before.