Vacations and travel tech: where are we going?

Vacationing is easier right now than it has ever been before. And it’s going to get better.

Vacationing is easier right now than it has ever been before. And it’s going to get better.

It’s almost mid-July and the summer has set in. Some of us are already planning a few days off and some others are finding some great inspiration in our friends’ Facebook and Instagram feeds. This got us thinking about how people traveled in the past compared to how it works today, but more than anything it made us think about the future.

An Evolving Environment

Back in 2002, I took my first international vacation, traveling to Urguay and Argentina with nothing but my Lonely Planet guidebook. It was the beginning and the end of my travel resources at the time.

Contrast that to traveling today, and it seems shockingly archaic. Now we have a plethora of resources to help us along the way such as Kayak, Airbnb, Google Maps, Yelp and Lyft involved. All are great apps, technologies and platforms that are not meant to be intrusive, but instead help you travel smarter and enable you to really take advantage of every single moment in every single context.

Classic vacation problems are now all solved by technology:

  • In a rental car, but a bit lost trying to get to that amazing beach you read about? Ask Google Maps or Waze for directions!
  • Did you get hungry in the middle of your sightseeing day and want to find a great eatery in the neighborhood? Take a look at Yelp or Urbanspoon and see what places the locals recommend!
  • Did you walk a bit farther than you originally planned and are now too tired to hoof it back? Request a Lyft or an Uber!
  • Need a place to stay? Check Airbnb, Cancelon, or Travelzoo!

The Three Moments of a Vacation

All of these existing technologies are very good at enhancing a specific part of a traveler’s experience.

Let’s stop for a minute to get on the same page on this: When it comes to travel, you always need to consider there are different moments. Pre (inspiration and planning), during and post. We like to think of experiences as a whole that is consistently easy and effective. Something that has a beginning and an end.

It would be great to see a single platform that united these three moments. But for now, the smaller, more focused platforms that exist are making a positive impact on travel already.

A lot of good things have been said about Virgin America’s newly redesigned website. It is not only fully responsive (first in its class), but also very modern and friendly. The use of natural language makes the process of booking your flight tickets very “human” and painless. They took a step in that direction first, now we can only expect the big ones will follow. They didn’t care about helping you find a rental car or even try to recommend the coolest restaurant in your destination city. They’re already making a part of your trip easier and they don’t need to go beyond that, at least for now.

Technology’s Role in the Future

All of us, who are a part of this digital industry, have a very interesting playground in front of us. There are countless areas of opportunity for improvement. Let’s think for a minute about all the different parts of a trip we could make better through streamlined digital experiences:

Before the trip:

  • Where can I go?
  • What is the best place to stay?
  • How can I get there?
  • Where are the cheapest tickets?

During the trip:

  • What should I see?
  • Where should I eat?
  • How can I meet locals?
  • How can I make the best use of my time?

After the trip

  • How can I keep the memories of my trip?
  • How can I share tips with my friends?
  • How can I stay in touch with the new friends I made?

We will keep seeing more and more products appearing in the market, filling in those gaps and contributing to make us have the best vacations ever. What can you or your company do to help? What aspect of travel would you like to see improved soon?

Tweet us your thoughts @Zemoga!