Yesterday Foursquare pushed its new app, Swarm, to the iTunes and Google Play stores, revealing to the world what it had been teasing for weeks: a tool to help you connect with friends globally, in a way that’s more socially-driven than the Foursquare we’ve long known and loved. Swarm differs from Foursquare by focusing on interactions, and not solitary check-ins or points, which were hardly being used in the competitive, socially-charged way that had once been intended.
Social media engagement has become increasingly valuable to hotel brands and travel companies—look no further than our own SMITTY Award winners—but today, Marriott is becoming the first company to place a real dollar value on customers’ tweets, check-ins, and likes. With PlusPoints, a new feature of the brand’s much loved rewards program, visitors who download the Marriott Rewards app and synch their social media accounts will now see their points balances increase with every digital interaction—up to 2,000 points each month. Says Rich Toohey, VP of Marriott Rewards, “It’s a way to provide immediate gratification for our members, who happy to be very active on social media channels.” Immediate is right: most interactions (geo-tagged Instagram pics; Facebook comments; check-ins and tweets) will yield an automatic deposited of 25 points to your Marriott Rewards account, while one-time activities, such as liking a property page on Facebook, will boost your balance by 250 points.
Pop up notifications about your flight status. Instant visual translations. Directions to your hotel within seconds of your asking. Google Glass has been targeting travelers for months, with an arsenal of tools that intend to get you looking away from your smart phone and around at world. Today, the company is making a bigger push than ever into the travel space, with the release of three new apps that any jetsetter will no doubt recognize—TripIt, Foursquare, and OpenTable—plus a smart re-release of the exploration tool, Field Trip, which now lets you ask for sightseeing suggestions based on its eclectic catalogue of local sites and venues.
Cameras mounted on unmanned drones have found a place in nature photographer’s arsenal (case in point: this breathtaking GoPro video taken at Arches NP in Moab) but as of last week, the National Park Service has banned the use of drones inside vast Yosemite, saying that they disrupt both peace and emergency services.
See Yosemite in World’s Scariest Hikes
Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest
The Travel + Leisure weekly news round-up includes the latest airline to introduce new add-on fees, Google’s update on self-driving cars, a possible bikini ban in Mallorca, and some of the best places to celebrate Bike Month.
Here's how I'll be spending much of this upcoming weekend: enjoying some quality armchair (time) travel courtesy of Google Maps' new Time Machine feature. Launched this week, it captures the evolution of places as they have been documented by Google's street view team—now celebrating their seventh year in action.
I’ve long loved Rome 2 Rio as a transportation guide: it tells you every possible way to get from Point A to Point B, and offers in-line prices and itineraries. Since I started using it, I’ve realized just how efficient train travel can be—factor in security lines and early airport arrivals, and the train can take less time than flying, depending on where you’re going. For the first time, an OTA is in agreement, as CheapAir has announced today that it will be integrating Amtrakrailway reservations into its flight search system. Now, when you search for routes connecting, say, New York and Boston, you’ll see airfares interspersed with train routes, so you can compare prices and schedules. Better yet, you can mix and match airfares and train reservations, so that you can capitalize on a discounted international flight that leaves from a city a few hours away.
In this week's travel news round-up, Disney launches its smart travel app, Airbnb is on the rise for business travelers, and we recap the controversy over the Picasso curtain at the Four Seasons Restaurant, New York.
There have been a boatload of travel innovations revealed today, and the Trip Doctor news team is pretty excited about them all. Here are a few of our favorites:
Microclimates on a Plane: Soon, passengers flying Virgin America will be able to set the temperature for their immediate surroundings thanks to a new partnership with thermostat company Nest (see video above). Expect the "Nest-controlled microclimates," with temperature settings ranging from "Cancun Afternoon" to "Chicago Polar Vortex," on Boston- and Newark-bound flights from both Los Angeles and San Francisco first, with implementation on all routes completed by the end of 2014.
One of London’s famous landmarks got a modern spin last week, as Café Royal Hotel—which opened just over a year ago on Regent Street—debuted a front- and back-of-house integration with Apple technology that's intended to streamline its entire operations process. Now, guests staying at the property can check in remotely using an iOS device, be it en route from the airport or over a cup of coffee in the restaurant, rather than having to queue up at the desk.