In the latest issue of Marketing Review from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) there's a great article by Marvin J. Cetron about the "Top 10 Travel Innovations of the Next 10 Years." Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel asked readers to pick their favorite travel innovations of the past decade while also peering into the next ten years. While many of these innovations might have seemed downright bizarre to conceive of only twenty years ago, I think you'll agree that they are remarkably practical. Here they are, drum roll please….
10. Online maps.Who amongst us hasn't used Mapquest or Google Maps to find out where something is? Computerized mapping has made life for travelers much, much easier, even if some of it is still imperfect.
9. Digital Photography. Traveling through airport security with film was always a hassle. Having to pack film and keep track of it while you traveled and processing it when you got home was inconvenient and expensive. Digital makes it easy to snap away with impunity on your vacation and (gasp!) post pictures of your trip on the web and email them to your friends.
8. Online Flight Check-in. With all there is to do once you arrive at the airport, and with the lead time needed to get through security in a post 9/11 world, being able to have checked in from home or the office the day before makes it that much easier to make your flight.
7. GPS Navigation.Many new cars come with GPS built in (like satellite radio). But there are many aftermarket portable units that can be installed. Even boaters and hikers can use the technology. Going far, far away from everything? No need to get lost anymore. And if you're driving, a soothing voice will tell you where to turn next.
6. Worldwide ATM Access. Need cash? Not at home? In Copenhagen or Johannesburg? Peoria? In a feat that still leaves me a bit boggled, you can use your ATM card in a machine almost anywhere in the world and get cash. Talk about connectivity!
5. Cell phones. Not so long ago cell phones were tethered to your car or immensely bulky. Today they slip into a tiny pocket and are capable of performing somersaults if you ask them too (well, you know what I mean). And if you're broken down on the highway (in many locations, of course) it's easy to call AAA for help. What did we ever do without them?
4. Global Internet Access. For anyone planning a trip and wanting to know where to go or stay, the Net provides access to information about products and services plus traveler reviews. You can find destinations, hotels, car rentals, theater shows, or what vaccinations you need, thanks to the web. And if you're a travel provider, the world can find YOU, too!
3. TripAdvisor. OK. I know lots of you HATE this, but the public LOVES TripAdvisor, because they can find out about your inn from others who have stayed with you. It's pretty hard to be sold a bill of goods ("Great ocean views!" from a crummy hotel five blocks from the beach) when a potential guest can read what others have said. Think about it, as a consumer you love it, even if as an innkeeper you're ambivalent.
2. Online Travel Booking. Lots of innkeepers are getting on board with this, and again, it's the consumer who's driving the ship. Access to comparative shopping and the ability to KNOW where you'll be staying this weekend even if it's 1:00 am on Thursday morning is a great thing. Online booking has made it possible for travelers to purchase their trip without disturbing a soul.
1. Roller Bags. !!!! The TOP choice of those survey by Budget Travel was the invention of the roller bag. I have a bad back, and even if you don't, this really is one of those transformational inventions that has revolutionized travel and made it infinitely easier. So, for those of you who hate all the first nine innovations, let's here it for low tech!!! Simple is good.