Got Plans for the Summer?
Not yet? Well you could do what you have always done or if you have a smartphone you are only a few apps and clicks away from planning your dream vacation, right now and the on the go. As part of my trend watching on the Telecom Sector one of the most exciting trends I have come across is known as “Techpowered”. This trend looks at how technology is empowering individuals to do some remarkable things with their internet enabled mobile phones or Smartphones.
Like so many areas, travel and tourism too have been transformed by the developments in mobile technology. So what are we talking about? What if I were to tell you that by using a series of applications on a mobile you can not only plan and book your entire trip but manage everything before, during and after your vacation. Skeptical? Allow me to illustrate!
Plan & Book
If you don’t already know where you want to go. You can check out apps like Globetrotr and Arounder Touch, which will allow you to explore some breathtaking views and hot locations complete with 360 views from all around the world. Let’s say you want to go Italy and you need a visa. Get the Travisa app which will give you visa requirements to over 200 locations. Need the right picture for your visa application. You need PassportCAM to tell you how your photo should look like – snap away, crop and fit. Book a flight using the Expedia app. If you want to book your hotels over a Google Map get the Hotels app. It will map out all the hotels on a map with their prices. Put in your details and get confirmation within the app itself. How about renting a car? Most major rent-a-car companies now have a smartphone app or if your are looking for something cool try Zipcar. They not only let you do the standard stuff like locate, browse and book but give you some extra features like using the app to honk your car, or remotely lock and unlock using the smartphone as the key. Not bad? Want to track flights – get Flight Track Pro. It would give you updates of flight schedules, gate details and inform you in case there is a delay. What’s more if you are tracking flights in US airspace you get the same in-flight information as the passenger on your smartphone which includes details like altitude, speed, expected arrival time, exact location on a map in near real time (meaning it does not update by itself, you need to hit refresh and update it yourself – not that I am complaining) Need help packing? There is an app that can help you make sure you get everything you need. All set to go!
Let the journey begin…
OK. Now what you are going to do when you get there? You can get a voice navigation app and be on your way in your rent-a-car as soon as you land and navigate your way around despite the fact that you are a first time visitor. But what about the language? You dont speak Italian. Well beside the multiple language, key phrases and gesture apps available for Italy you could get something far more cutting edge. How about an Italian OCR (Optical Character Recognition) app? This would allow you to take a picture of any road sign, brochure, leaflet etc and have the smartphone app translate it for you in a language of your choice. You will never have to worry about reading Italian ever again. Want to dine out in style? Use Open Table to find a restaurant, read reviews and make reservations all in one place. It lists over 13,000 restaurants from all over the world. Looking for adventure? You can complement your navigation with a couple of location based social networking apps like Foursquare or Gowalla. They would give you an idea of what’s around you. If you want something even cooler you can get Augmented Reality apps that tell you what you are looking at through your phone camera, pull out Wikipedia data, find restaurants etc. For example if you are in Tuscany you can use this app. The first official Augmented Reality tourism app. See a video demo below.
Ready to fly! How about a mobile check-in? Even better a mobile boarding pass in the form of a QR code. If you are travelling by Lufthansa or Air France. You can go paperless all out.
Next Generation Travel Ecosystem
What we have tried to demonstrate here is a sample of the next generation travel ecosystem. There are still a number of areas that need to come together for it to work for most people. One of the biggest issues is data access cost for travelers. There are a few solutions that club various Wi-Fi Hot Spots together under one offering but it is still not enough, without which data roaming is going to remain a premium luxury for the few. The government side of things is also a major area that needs to be integrated into the digital travel ecosystem. Already we are seeing RFID chips in Passports as a step towards the same. Combining this with NFC technology that is being used in Japan we can see applications like ID documents, NFC to pay for train/bus tickets and integrate with transit systems as a secure access and also leading to a possibility that mobile phones could be used as a hotel key card for example, all taking the travel experience to an unprecedented level.
Reposted from the Luciola Blog