We love Day 1 of the annual PhoCusWright conference—the Travel Innovation Summit. A full 30 companies present; some are startups, some are existing companies introducing new products; four judges then give feedback (which ranges from encouraging to blistering). The day offers a snapshot of where we are in the evolution of travel technology.
Launched in beta last week, the new hotel booking website with the memorable name, WantMeGetMe.com, challenges its growing list of top hotels to entice a new breed of traveler—wannabe VIPs—with luxe amenities, everything from complimentary Wi-Fi and valet parking to guaranteed upgrades and champagne.
This “Catch Me If You Can” approach is the first of its kind for a travel site, and given how many travelers nowadays already expect special treatment, the future of this free members-only site looks bright. But let’s take a closer look.
Being the social media editor for Travel + Leisure, I like to think I’m pretty plugged in. I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, Foodspotting, Foursquare, and, of course, Facebook—sorry, the last one’s a friends-only profile. But yesterday, yet another social platform was announced, and I’m interested to see where it will go. (Admittedly, the owners of the site aren’t exactly sure of it either, but it could very well end up being, at least in part, a great home for travel-inspiring words and images.)
Medium is the name, and so far, it appears to be a little bit Tumblr and a little bit Blogger. How are the posts curated? Unlike Facebook, the posts are divvied up into a series of themed “collections,” the idea being that everything within that section sticks to the theme. Once the site fully launches—right now it’s just the creators that are able to post—anyone can contribute. And it seems to be, so far, that the contribution can be anything: photos, links, essays, videos. The idea is to post things that are compelling, because other users will be able to vote for the posts that they like. The more votes, the higher up your post will surface in that collection.
Last month, we introduced you to a new series on YouTube’s Reserve Channel called EX-PATS that took viewers to St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands in its premiere episode. This month, those daydreaming about moving to a foreign country can look forward to another great story from a neighboring island, St. Croix.
One of my biggest regrets is having never done an epic U.S. road trip when I was in college. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for me to pack up and hit the road, whether it’s a cross-country trek, a tour of the northeast…whatever I feel like, really. But, now that everyone I know is busy with full-time jobs, the trouble is finding a partner-in-crime who can also get away for an extended period of time.
While finding a friend to tag along on my hypothetical road trip may be tricky, I have found a companion that will most definitely be at my side when that day finally comes. Roadtrippers is a relatively new site that cuts down the research time for road trip stopovers because, one of the most important parts of a road trip. Why? Because let’s face it: a road trip is not just about getting from Point A to Point B…it’s about all the sites and sights in between.
Hey, beautiful people, does the world owe you a free ride based on your good looks? Hooray, there’s a new website for you.
Or maybe you’re tired of being a lonely rich guy. Maybe you feel like the beautiful people of the world owe YOU a favor. Good news, you can use that same website.
MissTravel.com, a travel dating social network, will facilitate matches between its two types of members: the “attractive” members and the “generous” members. (Are you squirming yet?) How this differs from a high-flying escort service, except for the admonition “Escorts Are Not Allowed,” is unclear.
Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding system was once the most novel way to find a discounted hotel room online, but a slew of innovative new booking websites and apps make it easier than ever to prevent buyer’s remorse. The seven-month-old website BackBid turns the Name Your Own Price approach on its head: instead of guests bidding on hotel rooms, hotels bid on guests. After you submit your existing hotel reservation and travel preferences to BackBid, the site invites hotels in the same area to make you offers for less expensive rooms or upgraded ones at the same price. (A five-star hotel was recently offered in place of a three-star property in Washington, D.C.) As long as you have a refundable reservation, you can cancel and book the new room.
- Batter up? Los Angeles’ Cake Museum threatened by budget cuts. L.A. Times
- Dangerous looking French sundial casts pretty cool shadow four times a year. NASA
- Eye-popping, gorgeous, 20-gigapixel navigable view of London’s skyline. The details are so crisp that you can zoom in to check out footwear choices on the opposite bank of the Thames. Life in Megapixels
- The same genius, John Nelson, also mapped NYC-based Twitter feeds that contain the words “love” and “hate” to create what he calls Constellations of Love and Hate, pictured above. Not surprisingly, LaGuardia Airport is a nexus of negativity. IDV User Experience
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
I love to travel. Obviously. I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t. And I love when I hear about advances in technology that can help make traveling easier. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw our friends over at sister mag Executive Travel reported three new improvements that are underway that’ll help speed things up while you get to your destination, so you have more time to enjoy that beachside mojito.
The first will help you speed through the baggage check a little faster. How? By printing out your baggage tag at home, while you’re checking into your flight online. The technology was created by Unisys Corporation, and is currently being tested at Billund Airport in Denmark. When passengers show up at the airport, they simply drop their bags off at a special counter and head on over to security.
When it comes to trip-planning, I tend to get serious: My husband E. would tell you that I sometimes spend too much time on pre-trip research and packing deliberations, but recently, I tried a different approach: I used a travel auction site to book a trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya 12 days out and left the planning to chance. While E. and I briefly entertained Istanbul and Rome, one of our favorite cities, we quickly agreed that what we really needed was four or five days of sleeping, eating, reading, a little walking, a lot of unplugging, and a beach—without our three kids.