Electronic Kiosks Herald The Death Of The Travel Brochure

Couple travelling by car, man driving, woman reading map
Getty Images, Flickr

Remember when you would walk into a tourist information center or a hotel lobby and collect armfuls of glossy brochures advertising everything from theme parks to wax museums to dinner-and-a-show venues? For a lot of travelers, those brochures are already a thing of the past, thanks to iPads, smart phones and the ease of searching for whatever you need online. But a new electronic kiosk is set to put the final nail in the coffin of the good old travel brochure.

The kiosks, which were developed by tech company City Corridor and are popping up in hotels and businesses across the country, are outfitted with large touch screens. Travelers can view information about attractions, see restaurant menus, print out maps and even make reservations through the kiosks. Some kiosks also are programmed to print out information in several different languages to cater to foreign visitors.The machines also feature a slot for credit cards so you can buy tickets to attractions on the spot. That’s great news for businesses who say they’ve seen their sales increase as a result. Unlike a travel brochure, which a tourist might pick up and then forget about, the kiosks (much like the Internet) let them click the buy now button while their interest in the attraction is still hot.

The creators of the kiosk say the machines also will be helpful for advertisers, who will be able to get feedback about the number of visitors clicking on their ads or downloading their discount coupons. The electronic kiosks will be fitted out with cameras so businesses and advertisers can track the types of people using the machines.

Travel Tweets Cue Thought, Savings

travel tweets

A great amount of travel information is available on twitter, much more than the standard 140 characters might elude to. Some is straightforward, a simple statement of facts, making who we follow the key to travel info riches. But sometimes, thought provoking travel tweets can prompt a search for knowledge that brings a learning element and along with it, more meaningful information.

@united, the Twitter handle for United Airlines, posed an interesting question recently

“Our longest nonstop flight is 8,065 miles. Do you know which two destinations it connects?#avgeek

Following up later, @united answered

“EWR to HKG is our longest nonstop route.


That made me wonder, “so is that the longest non-stop flight in the world?”

Not even close.

Singapore Airlines Flight 21 claims the title of having the longest regularly scheduled non-stop flight in the world. Also flying from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) Singapore Airlines uses an Airbus A340-500 for the 9,534 mile trip in about 18.5 hours flight time.

That knowledge led me to check that tag, #avgeek, for more. That search revealed a plethora of information about aviation-related topics including this video, posted by who explains some otherwise very technical information about jet design in an understandable way.




Of the video, @clemensv says

“I’m a software dude, not an aerospace engineer. But I’m an aviation geek with a bit of 1950s aerospace engineering envy. Because: unlimited money.

Therefore please excuse my amateur attempt at explaining the Area Rule of supersonic jet design completely without resorting to math but rather in the sand and showing it off on a F-86, F-102, F-106, and F-5.”

Perhaps better yet, tweets by travel-related service providers such as @Airfarewatchdog, @livingsocial, @ViatorTravel (or @ViatorGear), @SmarterTravel and others can make for big savings on travel and travel-related products.

[Photo credit – Flickr user eldh]

Travel Brochure Finds: The Best Key Lime Pie And More From Florida

Travel Brochures

Travel brochures found at any given destination compete for our attention. Local tour operators want us to choose them over others. Convention and visitors bureaus work to highlight all their city has to offer. Florida, the land of theme parks, beaches and year-round sun is no exception.

Racks of colorful point-of-travel brochures can be found in airports, at hotels, highway rest stops and just about any other place that travelers are likely to gather. On a road trip from Orlando to Miami, we stopped at turnpike rest areas along the way and picked up some of the travel brochures that crowds of visitors seemed most interested in.

travel brochuresKissimmee, Florida is home to must-see theme parks Walt Disney World Resort, Seaworld and Universal Studio’s Orlando Resort. From world-class resorts to RV campgrounds, Kissimmee offers a variety of choices for any age or interest.

Special events held throughout the year range from June’s Silver Spurs Rodeo to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights coming up November 3 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, running through January 3.

travel brochuresKey West, Florida calls itself America’s Island Paradise for a number of reasons. Walking tours are a good way to see some of the island’s best attractions but trolley tours are also popular.

The Key West City Cemetery offers a quiet tour of Key West’s past, featuring a memorial to American sailors who died in the explosion of the USS Maine in 1898 along with legendary headstones that read, “I told you I was sick,” and, “At least I know where he’s sleeping tonight.”

A visit to Key West Audubon House and Gardens, Key West Harbour and the Florida Eco-Discovery Center make for a nice day and don’t forget a piece of Key Lime Pie, served at a variety of locations. Download a Key West vacation planner here.

travel brochuresButterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida, is one of a number of attractions that host aviaries filled with butterflies and free-flying birds. This one lets visitors enter their man-made tropical rain forest, a living habitat with a mist-filled cave and a cascading waterfall.

Butterfly World features six aviaries, live butterflies, Hummingbirds, an Insectarium, a Butterfly museum and more. Open seven days a week, Butterfly World is the largest butterfly and bird park in the world.

travel brochuresMiami Seaquarium is a 38-acre tropical paradise that is home to Lolita The Killer Whale, Salty the Sea Lion and everything else one might expect from an aquarium located minutes from the ocean.

At Dolphin Harbor, visitors can connect with one of the ocean’s most intelligent creatures doing a deep-water swim that has no swimming or height restrictions.

In addition to sea life from sea turtles and manatees to sharks and stingrays, unique to Miami Seaquarium are a number of animal and tourism experts on hand to share information and answer questions.

Here’s more about Florida, featuring Florida swamps, working cattle ranches, beautiful lakes and streams, and incredible wildlife.



[Photo Credit: Chris Owen]

Another great travel resource in Moebii.com

Whether sifting through endless piles of saved travel section clippings, or spending hours online navigating destination articles, the amount of time and energy it takes to organize the perfect trip can be overwhelming. That’s what Chris Danielian and Robert Celic, the founders of Moebii discovered in their attempt to find destination information.

In late 2008, Danielian had returned from a vacation in Morocco and Celic was researching a trip to South America. Both had similar gripes about the state of travel information on the web. They realized that while there is a lot of great online travel content, it was nearly impossible to keep track of all the stories and websites. The extent of fragmentation among travel stories was shocking and traditional search engines did not address the problem. After countless hours of brainstorming, testing and refining, Danielian and Celic created Moebii.

Moebii is a website that compiles content from hundreds of publications and online sources. Users tag the stories based on keywords, thereby narrowing the pool of travel stories into a list that is relevant and up-to-date. A foodie traveling to Spain, for instance, can search for the most authentic tapas restaurants in Barcelona, while a thrill-seeker traveling to Iceland can read up on the best cave-exploring adventures outside Reykjavik. Relevant travel stories arrive on a fully-linked page and are at your fingertips withinseconds.

In addition to travel story searches, Moebii can track stories by destination or publication, set up alerts to receive new stories as they’re posted to the site, and send stories to friends. Its user-interactive component also lets travelers create itineraries for future trips, publish their own travel stories, vote stories up or down, (allowing the highest quality content to rise to the top), and have real-time conversations with other travelers about destinations in order to compare notes and insider tips.

Trying out the site myself for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. While the site is in its primary stages, the potential for travelers to save time and energy searching for just the right story is well worth bookmarking Moebii for frequent use. Give Moebii a test drive, and if you find any issues with it, feel free to contact them directly with feedback or let Gadling know. I’ll be personally visiting with Celic to discuss travel and the site, so I’m happy to pass on any messages.

Talking Travel with GuideGecko.com

A few weeks ago, the world wide web saw the launch of a most useful travel resource called GuideGecko.com. Guide Gecko hopes to serve the dual purpose as an online bookstore and independent travel writing recruiter. The site’s mastermind, Daniel Quadt, spent the past year and countless hours speaking with travelers and writers to make Guide Gecko a useful travel resource. The end result hopes to please independent, knowledgeable travelers as well as those setting out for the first time.

Daniel sat down with me to talk about travel, GuideGecko.com, and the site’s potential.

BY: Thanks for taking time away from Guide Gecko’s exciting launch to correspond with Gadling. Where are you now, and do you have any plans to travel to either promote the site or for recreation in the near future?

DQ: I am in Singapore, the base for Guide Gecko and my ‘hometown’ in the last four years. Singapore is a perfect travel hub for South-East Asia, and I plan to visit Malaysia, Thailand, and perhaps Indonesia in the coming weeks and months. I don’t have a fixed schedule yet, so maybe faithful Gadling readers can let me know if they know of any event that could be interesting for Guide Gecko, or if they simply want to meet up and say “hello.”

BY: Can you briefly describe for our Gadling readers the kind of traveler you are? How often do you travel? Where is your dream destination? What is your preferred mode of travel?

DQ: I started traveling extensively during my studies, when I was a part time software developer for a major airline, and got to enjoy discounted tickets all around the world. Nowadays, I usually travel with my wife, and we try to go backpacking through southeast Asia every few months. I do like sightseeing in cities and temple ruins, but also enjoy lying in the water on a nice beach, sipping beers and waiting for the sunset. Given the proximity to Singapore, I would say that the ‘double beach’ on Pulau Redang, an island off of peninsular Malaysia’s east coast, comes very close to being my dream destination.
BY: Where did the Guide Gecko idea come from? Of all genres (ie: fiction, non-fiction, coffee table reads), why did you choose travel?

DQ: Naturally, the idea came while traveling – in Penang, Malaysia, to be precise. We usually prefer to have a drink in a bar with some locals around us, and try to eat in places where not all of the other diners are fellow travelers ordering what the Lonely Planet recommends. Nothing against the Lonely Planet – we have big collection ourselves – but the locals know what’s best and what not, and their information is always up-to-date. We thought there must be a way for both locals and tourists to profit from this. Our goal is to make this information available to anyone who is interested, in a concise way through travel, lifestyle and entertainment guides and not scattered over isolated travel tips or blogs.

BY: What service do you hope the site will provide for both writers and travelers in a way that is not yet offered online, through publishers, or in bookstores?

DQ: We bring authors and publishers together with customers and readers. We provide an opportunity for customers to find exactly the guides they need, and for authors to market their guides to consumers worldwide. Any budding author can publish his or her guide as a printed book or as a PDF download. The guide can have any length, from 1-1000 pages, and can cover any travel, lifestyle or entertainment topic. Publishing on Guide Gecko is free. As an author, you only need to write and upload your guide. We take care of everything else, from marketing and payment collection to printing and shipping. Authors set the retail price and earn up to 75% for each sale, from the first copy onwards.

BY: How does Guide Gecko market independently written guides by “greenhorn” travel writers? What kind of service does the site provide to ensure a degree of success for these guides opposed to the commercial (Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, etc) guidebooks?

DQ: We intend to make Guide Gecko the first in mind website for travel guides. We believe it is a great way for independent authors to market their guides. Customers may visit the site to order a Lonely Planet but end up buying your guide, especially if you offer it as a reasonably priced PDF download. When writers publish their guide on Guide Gecko, it will be listed on the front page, where it gets maximum visibility. An affiliate program where website owners, such as travel or food bloggers, can promote our guides on their site and earn a certain share of the revenue is also in the works.

BY: Do you promote the site only on the internet, or do you use offline marketing as well?

DQ: We promote the site online and offline. We have already experienced great media coverage, including feature articles in magazines and newspapers. We have focused our offline efforts on Singapore and southeast Asia as a start. We’ve already participated an interview on TravelTalkRadio, a U.S. radio show. I continue to sum up the media coverage in Guide Gecko’s company blog, so feel free to check that out for the details.

BY: If I were a consumer using the site, how could I be certain that I’ve chosen the best guidebook to fit my needs?

DQ: Our intention is to make the site as consumer friendly as possible. Users can find the right guides by searching not only by destination, but also by categories. You can combine categories too. For example, you can search for ‘budget travelers’ along with ‘barhopping’ — or ‘women’ with ‘wellness’ (and vice versa). When it comes to quality, we have a rating and review system where you can read what others think about the guide. We are currently developing a ‘preview’ functionality, which allows you to preview certain pages before making a decision. If that’s not enough, you can also ask questions to the author or to fellow users.

BY: I know you spent a considerable amount of time talking with travelers and writers to make this a great travel resource. What have you learned about the travel industry in the process, and in what ways had your initial vision for the site changed after gathering information, advice, and suggestions from travel enthusiasts like myself?

DQ: I have learnt that there are many budding travel writers with lots of interesting topics and good writing skills. However, many complain that there is a lack of opportunities to market their writings. They pitch their stories to magazines or guidebook publishers, only to collect rejection letters, if it all. I sincerely hope that Guide Gecko will provide them with the right tool to reach out to consumers. The market may be small for some niche topics, but with Guide Gecko, it is possible to serve such customers.

To give you an example, I am in contact with some authors who write guidebooks for travelers with disabilities, which are very comprehensive guides with lots of information you won’t find in any off-the-shelf guide. (Who knew there is a wheelchair friendly access to the Sacré Coeur in Paris though an elevated walkway from a neighboring guesthouse!). I hope that Guide Gecko will provide such guides with the attention they deserve, and let the authors focus on writing more guides of this caliber while we take care of the marketing, logistics and payment.

I have also talked to potential customers. Many of them told me something like, “If you could provide us with good guides on where and how to travel with
children, we’d be your first customers.” That showed me that there is a demand for many niche topics, which is how we came up with our 68 guide categories.

BY: If all goes well with the Guide Gecko launch, in what ways could you see the site grow or expand?

DQ: I would like to venture more in the area of electronic guide formats. I believe this is the future for guidebooks. Who wants to carry a heavy book when you already have a large-screen camera or a PDA with you all the time? It would be good to offer downloads for commercially available titles as well, be it as PDFs or in more interactive formats. So, if you are a publisher interested in this field, do let me know and we can see how we can work together!

Travel enthusisiasts: STAY TUNED to Gadling and Guide Gecko next month for an opportunity to submit your travel guide requests and/or proposals for great prizes! Or, If you’re a traveler in need of a special guide or a writer in need of platform and you’re ready to get started, head over to GuideGecko.com right now and create an account. Membership is free.