How Will NFC, Biometrics and Wearable Tech Affect Travel?

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If a group of people traveled twenty years into the future, from 1994 to today, and saw the amount of commercial technology available, they would be staggered at the sheer connectivity we enjoy. We have portable computers and tablets, sports bands that monitors our heartbeats, and mobile phones that we use for everything except for making calls. We may not be living in the age of the Jetsons, but we’re getting close.

And we’re continuing to advance, thanks to a group of people who specialize in “outcome-focused thinking,” or thinking that creates ideas without worrying of positive or negative consequences.

At Walt Disney World, biometric measurements a...

At Walt Disney World, biometric measurements are taken from the fingers of guests to ensure that the person’s ticket is used by the same person from day to day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This raises the question, where are we going next? According to Rob Girling, the co-founder of the Artefact Group and one of the more prominent outcome-focused thinkers, he sees technology moving towards three directions.

  • Near Field Communication (NFC): NFC will play a large role in the future of wearable technology. NFC, when partnered with wearable devices, will function as a form of identification, allowing the wearer to create checkpoints at restaurants, make payments and unlock certain secure areas.
  • Biometrics: In some ways, biometric data (iris pattern, thumbprint, heart beat) is almost like NFC technology. Biometric sensors can be placed in hotels or airports for security purposes, and will only respond to a specific individual’s biometric data. Think unlocking a door with your finger print or identifying yourself on a plane ride with an eye scan. We’re already seeing this with the iPhone 5′s thumbprint scanner.
  • Natural Language Processing: As impressive as NFC and biometrics sound on paper, natural language processing may be the most promising and useful advancement in technology. NLP will allow your device to actually follow through with a complicated task and execute a complex search query, such as finding the cheapest price for a car rental. Asking SIRI to set a reminder is simply the first step on the NLP ladder.

So what does this mean for the travel industry? In some ways, traveling will become a lot easier. Imagine wearing NFC tech that you can wave at a security checkpoint or can use to make payments with your phone.

Biometrics are already being used in some office security protocols, such as a thumbprint scanner for a computer, or even Dublin Airport in Ireland using an automated passport scanner for immigration checks.

And you can already use Siri or any number of Android personal assistants to find nearby restaurants, gas stations, and tourist attractions. How much longer before you say, “Siri, rent a car for me”?

Outcome-focused thinking is already making itself felt in the travel industry. The next 20 years will be interesting, and we’re looking forward to seeing what that time is going to bring.

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When Hotel Rooms Become Mini-Spas

January 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Say ‘sayonara’ to letting go and doing without while traveling. Thanks to the health and wellness craze that has swept the country, some hotels are now revamping their offerings to include amenities that target travelers concerned about healthy living. Upscale hotels have always gone the extra mile for their guests by offering things like complimentary treats, upscale gyms and high end toiletries, but how about a “running concierge”?

Both the Westin Hotel chain as well as The James Hotels have hired staff members who will give travelers local running tips; The James Hotel even offers running tours of New York City and Chicago. After their morning run, travelers can indulge in gluten free, organic and low calorie menu options at many hotels. Healthy eating and exercise options are the tip of the iceberg. While healthy menus and plentiful exercise options aren’t too outlandish, some hotels are taking the wellness craze one step further — or one step too far, depending on your outlook.

English: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.

English: MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, this past December the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas increased the number of their “stay well” suites (which cost $30 more per night) to a whopping 171 rooms featuring high tech amenities that have been endorsed by famed guru Deepak Chopra and other wellness experts. Dubbed the hypochondriac hotel by some, the rooms feature anti-microbial coating on bacteria susceptible surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops and a dedicated cleaning crew that will come armed with UV wands to sanitize and HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaners. If you’re planning on pulling an all-nighter in the casino, these rooms may be just what you’re looking for, you’re in luck – the rooms also feature melatonin-friendly lighting and dawn-simulator alarm clocks, allowing travelers to sleep as late as they please and still get the sunlight they need. As if that wasn’t enough, guests can enjoy a Vitamin C infused shower, which is said to neutralize chlorine and promote healthy hair and skin.

According to Stephanie Serino, a New York-based travel agent, “Business travelers want to keep their regimen going. I do have them asking for perks that go beyond the gym.” However, she adds “for many consumers who do care about wellness, a gym and a few healthy restaurants nearby will likely suffice.”

Would you spend an extra $30 per night to stay in a room with top-of-the-line wellness options? Share with us on our Facebook page.

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Millennial Travelers Spend More, Complain More

January 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s no secret that Millennials are changing the way many things are done these days. Commonly referred to as “Gen Y,” this tech savvy generation’s preferences have made a huge impact on today’s workplace, communication style, and the way we consume news and TV. So major hotels, airlines and travel brands are paying close attention to the travel habits of millennials. Ready or not, Gen Y is about to change the way we travel.

According to a recent study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Egencia and Expedia.com, millennials are doing more business travel than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, and they’re also spending more money. Younger Americans (34 and under) are slightly more likely to use their company’s credit card to splurge on a flight upgrade, room service, alcoholic beverages or expensive meals than those 35 and older. Additionally, millennials are also more apt to mix business with pleasure. In fact, 62% of millennials surveyed have extended a business trip into a personal vacation.

backpack travel berlin

Backpacking in Berlin (Photo credit: FastPhive)

Gen Y travelers are also complaining more than any other age group. According to Egencia, tech savvy 18-30 year old business travelers are more likely to air their grievances via an online review site after having a poor experience while traveling. That being said, negative online reviews are still relatively rare — 67% of travelers worldwide state they have never written one.

While it’s no surprise that Gen Y travelers are more apt to use smartphones and mobile apps when traveling, many may be surprised to learn than mobile app usage in travel is up for all generations. In fact, 75% of travelers worldwide report that they use a smartphone or tablet while traveling. It’s safe to say that in the coming year, many more major travel brands will be launching mobile technology to accommodate tech savvy travelers.

Egencia president Rob Greyber said in a USA Today article, “Business travelers are early adopters of technology — millennial travelers even faster — and all on the move from device to device, from online to offline and back again. We realize that keeping pace with millennials and future generations of corporate travelers demands significant focus on mobile in order to sustainably engage them with the right information.”

We’d love to hear from you. Do you welcome such changes, or do you feel they will only alienate older travelers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or via our Facebook page.

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How To Travel Like a Pro

December 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

While traveling can be an enriching, wonderful, life changing experience, it can also be stressful, especially if you’re not well prepared. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, there are certain things you can do to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. We have compiled a list of our five favorite travel tips from the TravelPro team and other travel industry experts to ensure your next trip goes off without a hitch.

1. Get in the (time) zone

There’s nothing worse than wasting the first day of your trip feeling completely jet-lagged. Instead of making an abrupt switch, set your watch to the time zone you’ll be visiting as soon as you board your flight and act accordingly. This means that if you’re visiting Thailand and it’s 11pm Indochina Time, then guess what? Time for some shut eye.

2. Invest in an international SIM card

An AT&T SIM Card before being taken out and pu...

An AT&T SIM Card before being taken out and put in use in a mobile telephone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you travel abroad quite often, an international travelers’ SIM card is worth the investment. You can pick these up on sites like Ekit and most work in over one hundred countries around the world. You can even register your SIM card with Ekit and have it map your journey, allowing friends and family members to not only follow your travels, but ensure you’re alive and well.

3. Get your finances in order

If you’re leaving the country, do your research. Your debit card may be useless in many countries. In some places (such as Myanmar), ATMs are not connected to international networks, whereas in others (i.e. Japan), you’ll find that your card isn’t even the correct size for ATMs. Also, don’t just inform your bank of your travel plans once. Be sure to call and confirm they’ve noted your account before you leave. Finally, exchange a small amount of money — enough to last a day or so — prior to leaving the United States. In the event that you run into issues withdrawing money, you won’t find yourself stranded and penniless in a foreign country.

4. Plan for the worst

As the saying goes, expect the best, but plan for the worst. Leave copies of your itinerary and all travel documents with a trusted friend or family member. Hide an emergency credit card and back-up identification in an inconspicuous location, keep scanned copies of everything (especially your passport!) on your computer, and back-up your photos as often as possible. If you are pick-pocketed or your hotel room is robbed, you’ll be grateful you took these extra precautions.

5. Don’t make it obvious you’re a traveler

Nothing screams “I’m new here!” than walking around with tags on your luggage. As soon as you pass through customs, be sure to rip the tags off of your bags and discard them. If you need to pick up a taxi to your hotel, leave the international area make your way over to domestic arrivals. Chances are, you’ll end up paying less for that ride anyway, since some international cab drivers try to take advantage of foreign visitors.

Are you a savvy traveler? Have you picked up any valuable tips on your travels? Share your tips with other travelers in the comments section.

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Travelpro® Maxlite® 2 Luggage Wins Coveted Editors’ Choice Award from “Outdoor Gear Lab” [Press Release]

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Boca Raton, Fla. – December 2, 2013 – Travelpro, the original inventor of Rollaboard® luggage and a market leader in innovative, high-quality luggage design, was honored to receive the 2013 Editors’ Choice Award for the Travelpro® Maxlite® 2 22” Expandable Rollaboard, from OutdoorGearLab.com. The Outdoor Gear Lab Review Editors chose the winner after extensive field testing on flights across the country. Eleven popular pieces of carry-on luggage were subjected to head-to-head tests to determine which stood out in terms of performance across these following metrics: features, durability, weight, storage capacity, ease of transport and style. To read Outdoor Gear Lab’s review of Travelpro’s Maxlite 2, click here: Outdoorgearlab.com.Travelpro Maxlite Rollaboard

“We are very honored to receive the Editor’s Choice award from Outdoor Gear Lab for our Maxlite 2 22” Rollaboard. Receiving this award from an objective 3rd party, supports our strong emphasis on product testing and quality throughout the product’s life cycle,” said Scott Applebee, Vice President of Marketing for the Travelpro family of brands.

The Travelpro Maxlite 2 22” Expandable Rollaboard provides an economical and lightweight two-wheel design, ideal for carry-on use by frequent business and leisure travelers. Maxlite 2 expands up to 1 1⁄2 inches, maximizing space and packing flexibility, without sacrificing effortless mobility. A full length zippered lid pocket provides easy storage for shirts, blouses and accessories. Moreover, a large front pocket provides a great way to store tablets and laptops as well as any other last minute items.

For additional information on the Travelpro Maxlite 2 22” Expandable Rollaboard or any other of Travelpro’s expansive line of luggage, contact rmartinez@gohrmc.com or dial 305-573-0882

About Travelpro

For 25 years, Travelpro International has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for travellers worldwide. Since transforming the ease of modern day travel with The Original Rollaboard® wheeled luggage, Travelpro® has been the brand of choice for flight crews and frequent travelers worldwide. Travelpro is dedicated to building a lifelong relationship with its customers by consistently understanding and exceeding their needs. Travelpro was honored to receive the New Product Innovation Award from the Travel Goods Association (TGA) in March 2013 for the revolutionary Platinum® MagnaTM luggage collection.

Please visit Travelpro at www.travelpro.com for a full list of the latest products and retail locations. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TravelproINTL and Twitter: @TravelproIntl

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What Will Air Travel Look Like in 2050?

June 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

For anyone who enjoys sci-fi and futuristic views of what our lives will be like decades from now, this article is for you. According to BBC Travel, Airbus recently released its predictions for what air travel will be like in 2050 — which isn’t that far away anymore.

Within the airline industry, Airbus expects a variety of mechanical and operational improvements to be made, primarily in the name of reducing operating costs. Reducing the weight of airplanes, and subsequently reducing fuel costs, will be of utmost importance moving forward. In fact, many of the past innovations in air travel have had to do with building lighter aircraft, so many people are wondering what type of innovations are next.

Print shows a futuristic view of air travel over Paris as people leave the Opera. Many types of aircraft are depicted including buses and limousines, police patrol the skies, and women are seen driving their own aircraft

Print shows a futuristic view of air travel over Paris as people leave the Opera. Many types of aircraft are depicted including buses and limousines, police patrol the skies, and women are seen driving their own aircraft. 1 print : lithograph, hand-colored. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking into account lighter airplane construction materials and with improved engine technology, Airbus’ report suggests that future aircraft will glide down to land, will allow airlines to have shorter runways and passengers to have smoother flying experiences.

In aircraft cabin innovations, Airbus suggests that cabins in future airplanes may have a transparent roof, or skylights. This would allow travelers to take in a more encompassing view while they fly. Virtual reality cabins have also been mentioned when it comes to futuristic aircraft design – airplanes of the future could include a virtual reality cabin that simulates a night club, cocktail lounge, or golf course.

If these changes sound a little too “Star Trek” for you, some more feasible changes that may be taking place are seats that are made of recyclable materials and give passengers more head and leg room. In fact, we recently wrote a blog post about futuristic airline seating changes where we talk in more detail about what future passengers can expect.

These improved and more functional seat options provide personalized ventilation systems, added privacy, and technological integration. Other more likely changes that we think we’ll see by 2050 include auto-bag checking and smartphone boarding passes becoming the norm instead of the exception. And as airports strive to compete with other forms of transportation and with other airports, many airports already have plans in the works to offer customers high-end shopping and dining experiences to travelers.

Something to keep in mind is that there may be less airline travel altogether because of other modes of transportation growing in popularity (such as high-speed light rail). Air travel could potentially become primarily used for distances longer than 10-12 hours or overseas, which will practically require airlines to offer higher-quality seating, in-flight wireless internet, and other technological integration as a standard offering in order to compete.

2050 isn’t really that far off, so it will be interesting to see what type of innovations will happen over the course of the next several decades in travel industry.

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Expect Faster Wifi on Airplanes

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re a tech-savvy traveler, you likely have a wish list of technological advances you’d like to see in airplanes. Faster and/or free wifi, mobile device charging stations, free live television viewing, and more are all potential tech upgrades that many airlines are considering for their passengers.

Recently, the FCC took a step forward in improving wifi access for travelers. An air-to-ground wireless network is being proposed by Qualcomm, according to Bloomberg.com, and the FCC recently voted in favor of moving forward with the planning phase of this wireless network.

Sleeping on Turkish Airlines flight from Shanghai

Sleeping on Turkish Airlines flight from Shanghai to Istanbul in seat 3k (Photo credit: Toby Simkin)

So what does this mean for the average traveler? Nothing, yet. However, according to the article, the global market for in-flight technology and entertainment is estimated to grow to $3 billion in 2017. That’s a billion dollars in growth throughout the next four years, which likely means that not only will wifi be more readily available for passengers, it will be faster, and might even be free.

In a statement from Qualcomm, the broadband system they’re developing is designed to offer flyers an “in-flight broadband experience equivalent to what is available in their homes, offices, parks, cars, buses, and trains,” Qualcomm said.

Today’s travelers, especially the younger generation of road warriors, expect to be connected to the Internet at all times. Some people view flying time as a welcome respite from Internet connectivity, but that group of people is shrinking. Instead, travelers may want to put away their office email system during a flight, but instead they want to catch up on their Netflix queue. The proposed Internet system from Qualcomm could make this scenario a reality.

As of last year, just over 30 percent of airplanes were equipped for in-flight wifi, so there’s significant growth that needs to take place here. Some media pundits are worrying over the level of commitment to expect from each airline regarding the installation of in-flight internet services.

However, most airline industry experts agree that in time, wifi will have to be a standard offering on passenger aircraft if the airline wants to compete in the larger marketplace. Passengers who are traveling abroad or cross-country are expected to demand services like wifi and free live television viewing in the near future.

The next several years will bring a variety of technological advances into the airline industry. It will be interesting to see how Qualcomm’s proposed internet system will be developed and funded – and how quickly travelers begin using the new technological services being offered.

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Luxury Travel Is Making a Comeback

April 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Say farewell to the “Staycation” – for many travelers, budget-friendly tours of one’s own city have become a thing of the past. Not only has travel increased overall, but consumers are actually investing in luxury travel again, thanks to income levels returning to pre-recession levels.

Just how much is luxury travel increasing? According to an article in The (London) Guardian), the sales of luxury experiences grew 50% faster than the demand for physical goods. This change can be partially attributed to demographics – namely, the fact that the consumers who drove the luxury boom in the 1990s are now beginning to retire. Instead of acquiring material goods, affluent Baby Boomers are more interested in investing in life experiences.

Maharajas' Express Luxury Train (India)

Maharajas’ Express Luxury Train (India) (Photo credit: Train Chartering & Private Rail Cars)

Demographics aside, many travel experts have noticed an overall increase in consumer confidence, meaning that travelers feel comfortable investing in high ticket, once-in-a-lifetime trips. In a recent Travel Weekly article, Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck, a luxury travel operator in Connecticut, said “In the post-meltdown era, there’s been a resetting of priorities.

In other words, consumers, particularly the affluent, are focusing more than ever before on making memories and spending time with friends and family.

According to the Travel Weekly article, this year’s luxury travel hotspots are all over the map, including exotic eastern locales such as Myanmar, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. Once overlooked Eastern European hidden gems such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also becoming quite popular, as are exotic once-in-a-lifetime experiential trips such as safari trips to Botswana.

Another surprising trend is a large increase in consumers booking trips on luxury cruise lines. When it comes to visiting exotic locales via the high seas, travelers are willing to overlook the cruise industry’s recent woes. In fact, many travelers are booking cruises that run upwards of one month. Such cruises visit multiple exotic destinations on all seven continents, making them an appealing option for those that want to get a bit of variety during their trip.

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Four Major Trends In Air Travel by 2015

April 9, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Over the next several years, it is expected that technological innovation will change the way many of us behave when we travel by air. In a recent report, SITA, a travel communications and IT solutions company, discussed several ways they believe air travel will change over the next two years. Based on our own experiences with business travel and social media growth, we agree with their ideas.

1. Web and mobile will be the way most people buy tickets and check-in. Now smartphones are commonplace, it is expected that even more customers will use mobile devices to make travel arrangements. It is also becoming an expectation that airlines and travel companies offer apps that can alert customers when flights fall below a certain price point.

Day 1: people with cell phones

Day 1: people with cell phones (Photo credit: p2-r2)

2. Customers will do more things themselves. For example, it is expected that by 2015, 90% of airlines will offer mobile check-ins and flight updates via smartphone apps (as opposed to 50% today). Self-service will become the norm, as opposed to waiting in long lines for an airline staff member behind the counter to help you.

3. Smartphones and social media will dominate how customer service is delivered. It is expected that by 2015, 9 out of 10 airlines and airports will offer mobile updates on flight arrivals, delays, weather, parking, and even the location and nightly rates of nearby hotels. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media sites will be crucial in customer interaction. Apps that help travelers plan their journey from the airport to their hotel will also become more commonly used.

4. Business intelligence metrics will be more commonly used by airports and airlines. Airports and airlines are realizing that they are first and foremost in the business of customer service, and customer loyalty is of key importance to their success. In order to keep travelers returning, airports and airlines are now determining how to shape loyalty programs and how to become more engaged with their customers.

Higher quality customer service and amenities will also be important differentiators. In a world where bad news or a customer service horror story can go viral in an instant, top-notch customer service and amenities will become crucial to the success of any airline or airport.

As the world becomes more mobile and social, air travel companies will now more than ever before use social media and technology to shape customer experiences and respond to customer needs.

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Personal In-Flight Entertainment via Mobile Devices

March 14, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Which is cheaper on a long-distance flight, buying the wifi and watching your own movies, or buying the inflight movie mobile_device_image3service? What are some other alternatives? Loading a movie onto your tablet, laptop, or smartphone and watching that. What else?

A recent trend in air travel has been for airlines to more broadly allow in-flight technology use. In some cases, airlines even encourage customers to use their technology device of choice during flight. This approach to in-flight entertainment is following two airline industry trends: personalization and price competition. Given the recent trends in price transparency for air travel, airlines are beginning to compete on the ancillary add-ons they offer. Multiple in-flight movies, on-demand television shows, and live news broadcasts are just a few of the entertainment options to which travelers now have growing access.

Airlines are also now attempting to further personalize the technology options for their customers. This means offering individual televisions for each passenger with on-demand TV viewing, and also allowing customers to use their personal mobile devices such as phones and tablets to view live web content via the plane’s in-flight wifi access.

While some travelers view wifi as something that should be available on every flight, many businesses do not reimburse their employees for wifi access in-flight. Thus, adoption of in-flight wifi is currently seen as a differentiator instead of a standard offering. The question is not necessarily “if” in-flight entertainment via mobile devices and wifi will be standard on every airline, but “when.” While in-flight wifi isn’t yet the norm, it’s a growing trend that is gaining popularity and will undoubtedly be seen as an industry standard in the near future.

So, what’s the cost of all these entertainment offers to consumers? Frontier Airlnes offers DirectTV for as low as $3.99 and several airlines including Frontier and Alaska Airlines offer wifi at varying rates depending on the length of the flight, usually between $1.95 – $39.95.

On the other hand, depending on your entertainment subscriptions at home you could pre-load a movie or television show to your personal mobile device for viewing while you fly – and all it’ll cost you is your battery life.

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