By now, we’re used to hearing the big news that Trip Advisor has acquired some smaller company—it seems to happen about once a week. But the past couple months, we’ve also been hearing big news almost every week from a very different type of company: the Ritz-Carlton.
The luxury hotel company has unleashed a flurry of new properties on the world in the past couple months, opening three in October (Chendgu and Tianjin in China, and Bangalore, India) and two in November (Almaty, Kazakhstan and Aruba), with another on the way mid-December (Herzliya, Israel).
After a long day traveling, the last thing any road warrior wants is to wait at a hotel check-in desk.
Don’t fret, frequent travelers: hotels have heard our pleas and help is on the way. New technologies promise to let guests skip the front desk, although it might take several years for all of us to reap the benefits.
Let’s start with the problem.
I still have bad flashbacks to a business trip to Florida several years ago. I arrived at the hotel late at night thanks to a flight delay, only to find a front-desk clerk who wanted to make small talk. Lots of small talk. Call me heartless, but all I wanted to do was go to bed. I’m sure the rest of my stay was fine, but all I recall of that hotel today was the overly friendly welcome.
Based in Vienna, Austria, Julian Breitenecker is the founder and CEO of Locca, a technology company that launched LoccaMini, the world’s smallest GPS tracking device. Ideal for checked and carry-on luggage, the 1.7-inch gadget has a 30-day battery life, it’s waterproof and shockproof, and it’s loaded with features such as a motion detector and audio responder that can be managed from your smart phone, tablet or desktop.
Below, Breitenecker, who often jet sets to tech summits in cities like Dublin and Cologne, Germany, tells us more about Locca—and shares his top travel tips.
Q: What inspired you to create the LoccaMini?
A:My motivation wasn’t actually business-based. I was traveling in Tel Aviv and lost my two-year-old son for a few terrifying minutes. I thought about creating a device that could keep track my child’s whereabouts and soon realized it could easily apply to important belongings as well. Locating luggage is one of the most popular uses.
Hyatt recently hosted a day-long Twitter chat that it dubbed the “World's Largest Focus Group,” tapping into current travel trends among its clients. Most of the results were not all that surprising—respondents' top wish was for seamless check-in, bypassing the front desk and heading straight to the room.
But by far the most important takeaway regards business travelers' clothing preferences when working from their hotel rooms:
65 percent of women opt for pajamas or workout gear
50 percent of men prefer casual business attire
2.5 percent of both genders forego clothing altogether
Think about that the next time you receive an email from a colleague on a business trip...!
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.
Photo credit: Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Beginning today, Oct. 1, Emirates Airlines launches a new route: JFK-Milan. Why is this big news? Because the expanding UAE-based airline will offer the only first-class service between the two popular cities. And, it's the first flight of the airline’s that does not touch down in Dubai before flying on to other gateways.
We expect Emirates’ first transatlantic service to be a big boon for business and leisure travelers, and are already imagining the crush of Louis Vuitton suitcases during Milan and NYC’s Fashion Weeks.
Departure and arrival schedules are timed to sync with flights going to and from feeder markets, especially those on JetBlue (US) and easyJet (Europe).
Waiting in line—perhaps the most dreaded aspect—of the air travel experience—is improving by leaps and bounds this year at U.S. airports. For one, the TSA PreCheck expedited screening program, which is now available for international flights, is growing rapidly: the TSA has installed PreCheck lanes in 40 airports, with planned expansions into 60 more domestic airports by the end of 2013. Meanwhile, in-airport PreCheck enrollment centers will also soon start rolling out—opening up the program to all U.S. travelers willing to pay the $85 fee—no passport or frequent-flier membership required. The first will be in Indianapolis and Washington Dulles this fall, followed by some 300 locations across the country.
It seems like a new hotel opens every other day in New York City, but one nabe with a surprising dearth of places to stay is downtown’s Union Square, which hasn’t seen a debut in ten years. Enter the new 178-room Paul Vega-designed Hyatt that launched in May. The oft-delayed property—it took over five years to complete—is challenging the notion that a corporate chain can showcase the kind of edge that so many travelers lust for when they touch down in the globe’s style capital—the sort you find south of 14th Street.
I once was a stubborn holdout on smartphones but now I’m a zealous convert. On a recent trip out of the country and out of my phone’s data network, I felt a little dazed and out of sorts without my constant handheld companion. I confess that I used some free, unsecured WiFi during the trip. While I was vigilant about the type of info I was sending and receiving, for all I knew, my smartphone (and passwords and bank info and all manner of personal data) could have been accessed during those brief, careful sessions. And when I read this chilling cybercrime report from Norton, I vowed to change my sloppy smartphone habits.