Airlines, hotels, travel & tourism

An SMS from paradise. Wsh u wur here?

Travel has changed almost beyond recognition in the past decade. The use of digital communications and cameras are revolutionising they way we travel. Backpackers are leading the high-tech charge and a recent survey on backpacker website revealed that 86 per cent of backpackers carry a digital camera, 83 per cent have a mobile phone, 54 per cent have an MP3 player and 21 per cent bring their laptop. Lonely Planet's Tony Wheeler has witnessed the worldwide technological changes, saying you could be riding in a truck in a backwater of Cambodia, while the monk sitting next to you is texting on his mobile. And instead of sending postcards, travellers are now uploading blogs and pictures to a website, so those left at home can log in to share the journey, helped by travelogue sites such as and The web is also turning travel blogs into critiques, rating everything from hostels and tours to airports. There is no doubt that these new digital travelogues are affecting the way we travel, and where, but is it removing the serendipity and romance from it? Tony Wheeler doesn't think so: 'I don't think there's any romance in having to track down the airline office... then queue up for hours to find out whether there's a flight'. Fair point. Sites where travellers can get the low down on everything from airline seats to hotels are very useful although one wonders what we may have lost by no longer being able to leave everything at home - or at work for just a short while.
Ref: The Sydney Morning Herald (Aus), 18-19 November 2006, 'Eternally connected',
N. Galvin. See also Popular Science (US) September 2006,
�'Where in the world' E. Todras-Whitehill,
Search words: travel, communications, getting lost, consumer reviews
Trend tags: connectivity

Check out what's next in checking in

Hotels have been traditionally slow to embrace change but a new project led by the Chicago-based design firm Gettys and the Hospitality Group have gathered industry experts to develop the hotel of the future. Hyatt and Klimpton hotels have already implemented concepts such as hotel showrooms, where you can buy the d�cor or items on display, and next in line are lifestyle hotels. Here are some of new ideas to expect when we check in -� a single fingerprint key for everything from your door to checking email, corridors that illuminate when they sense human movement, antibacterial tiles and baths that mold to your body shape, recycled water and biodegradable toiletries, self-cleaning nano-fabric sheets that adjust to your body temperature. We may also see under-floor magnetic grids to recharge all your appliances, footpads that analyse your vital signs and suggest what you need nutritionally, wardrobe scanning to advise you what to wear and customised menus and entertainment to make you feel at home. You won't even have to exert yourself to order room service. Your room-based robotic butler will do that for you, and won't expect a tip.
Ref: Business 2.0 (US), November 2006, 'Checking in at the hotel of tomorrow', S. Hamner.
Search words: hotels

Science fusion

Post 9/11 defence spending in the US is at unprecedented levels and has resulted in a significant side-effect. Anti-terrorism measures are bringing together previously discrete scientific disciplines to develop new technologies. Software engineers are working with biologists, nuclear physicists are working with bioforensic experts - all seeking to protect against terrorist attack. These partnerships are resulting in new hi-tech safeguards that include radio-tagged luggage that tracks your bags and checks them for explosives, passenger-screening puffers that use air to remove particles from your clothing and identity nitrate-based explosives, sensors attached to engines (for example, on buses) that detect signs of trouble possibly caused by the presence of a bomb, scent-sensors in subways to check for fatal pathogens, neutron beams to detect gamma rays emitting from cargo containers, airports with sensor-fences, motion detectors and surveillance cameras and infra-red lasers on jets to detect heat-seeking missiles. The technology isn't limited to transport - similar projects are focusing on turning office blocks into 'smart' buildings to protect occupants from biochemical attack.
Ref: Popular Science (US), September 2006, 'Technology vs terrorism', S. Handleman
Search words: terrorism, security, travel, airports

The (virtual) world is your oyster

Virtual worlds are becoming more popular, not to mention more intricate and lucrative. Synthtravels is the first organisation to offer tours to virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft of Second Life. Two Italian entrepreneurs are taking explorers through these worlds by creating an itinerary and setting a time for travel. Once the travellers have downloaded the software they need, they can enter the metaworld at the set time, and have a guide there waiting to show their avatar the hotspots, and how best to manoeuvre. Tours include 'Discover the Post Art Deco architecture of Paragon City', and shopping expeditions. Synthtravels expects to find a market among parents who want to know where their children are in cyberspace, and among advertising types who are looking for marketing opportunities.
Ref: Springwise (Neth), 24 October 2006, 'Tour guides for virtual travel',
Search words: virtual, virtual reality, travel

Not your average slide night ...

Looking at other people's holiday snaps has always been, well, dull. But now your pictures can become a 3-D tour of a city, by adding geotags. You can use existing images on Flickr, Google Earth and Flickrmap to retrace your journey. Or with the addition of a GPS logger, and using free software, match the timestamp to your original geotagged image and create your unique flying tour using Google Earth.
Ref: Popular Science (US), September 2006, 'Where in the world?', E. Todras-Whitehill
Search words: 3-D, virtual, tagging, geotags

Going to extremes

Thailand, the Caribbean? Been there, done that? The latest trend, especially in Russia and the ex-Soviet states, is extreme tourism, ranging from space tourism - if you have $20 million to spare - to a $200 tour to check out the machinery used to clean up after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and see the abandoned homes in the 30 km zone - or by late 2007 you can even visit the nuclear reactor itself. Another option for your extreme travel itinerary is visiting the KGB prison in Latvia and becoming a prisoner for the duration of your 'Acquiescence' tour. What's the temptation? It caters to our growing desire for unlimited choices and is certainly offers a different experience to that of a seaside resort. It may also have something to do with our otherwise risk-free lives.
Ref: Sense Bulletin (UK), 2 October 2006, 'Extreme tourism',
Search words: risk, tourism, safety