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.

‘Road Warriors’ Stay Connected While Traveling

business travel - laptopsToday’s business traveler carries between three and four mobile devices with them while on the road, states data from a new survey from Four Points by Sheraton. This Starwood Hotels and resorts brand surveyed 6,000 global business travelers to find what devices they are most likely to use while traveling – and what hotels can best do to help these tech-savvy travelers.

Business travelers are “connecting” to friends and colleagues while on the road more than ever, with 55% saying that they travel with three to four devices. Brazilian travelers are the heaviest packers, with 27% saying they travel with more than five devices at one time. We’re not even sure how one gets to that many tech items, unless you’re traveling with multiple telephones. Germans were the least device-dependent, with 33% reporting they travel with only one or two items.

Smartphones #1
Not surprisingly, smartphones (74%) are the number-one device used by travelers, although tablets (65%), music players (43%) and laptops (32%) are also popular. Chinese respondents were the only group to bump laptops out of the top four, in favor of cameras (30%).

Business travelers are also glued to those smartphones. After landing, the majority (54%) turn on their smartphone while the plane is still taxiing on the tarmac, while 12% admit to never turning it off in the first place. The remaining respondents wait until they’re in the terminal or settle into their taxi/car (17% each).

Given our tech-obsessed society, some of these stats may seem mainstream, but checking their smartphone is also the first thing respondents do when they wake up in their hotel (36%). Only 19% turn on the TV first and 18% take a shower. Checking Facebook (12%) ranks fourth, while checking Twitter and calling home share a distant fifth (7%).Business Travelers Prefer Tablets
Tablets are quickly gaining market share among business travelers, with 68% of respondents saying they use their tablet more often than their laptop, and accordingly a similar number (69%), if told they could take only one of the two on the road, would choose to travel with their tablet.

This is in line with the business goals of travelers – many use mobile devices to keep up with email (90%), although many use devices for Internet browsing and social media (75%). Keeping up with the office is important too, but less so – only 73% of respondents cited this as important. Either these travelers still prefer books or they aren’t reading for pleasure – only 43% use mobile devices to read.

Business Centers Still Rule
In addition to all their hand-held technology, the majority of respondents report that they have visited a hotel business center (66%). They mostly do so to print business items (93%). They are also inclined to use the business center to print personal items (87%), check social networking (87%) and check email (86%).

What do you think? How many devices do you travel with, and which do you use most frequently?

[Flickr via magerleagues]

The Future Of Hotels: Cyber Butlers

room service It seems like every service nowadays is going mobile. Apparently, that includes hotel hospitality, as well.

The Stamford Hotels and Resorts chain in Australia and New Zealand is giving guests the opportunity to customize their entire stay – from what food and drinks are waiting in their room to what time they will be woken up – via their smartphone. Designed based on customer feedback, the app tries to save guests time while enhancing their experience.

According to news.com.au, by utilizing their new iGuest app, travelers can:

  • Listen to messages
  • Track bills
  • Set a “Do Not Disturb” option
  • Gain instant access to flight information
  • View contact numbers for airlines and embassies
  • Create travel itineraries including local attractions, restaurants and transportation options
  • Order chocolates, wine and other gifts to be waiting in the room before you arrive
  • Request restaurant vouchers

The program will soon be featured in all eight Stamford Hotels and Resorts properties.

Would you use a cyber butler service?

[Image via Big Stock]

Air France And KLM Next Up For International In-Flight Wi-Fi

air france planesOne of our biggest pet peeves about long-haul international flights of late has been the lack of Wi-Fi available on board. We can use our in-flight Internet from New York to California, but the minute we head off the coast, we’re out of luck.

The expense of offering this satellite Wi-Fi has proven prohibitive for airlines that see low usage and high costs to outfit planes with new technology. International Wi-Fi isn’t impossible – just infrequently available.

Lufthansa, for example, already offers this service on many of their flights, Qantas has trialed the program between Los Angeles and Australia, and United is set to roll out the service later this year.

Now AirFrance and KLM airlines have joined with Panasonic Avionics to roll out a program of their own. They will begin offering in-flight connectivity trials on long-haul flights beginning in early 2013.

This will enable travelers to stay connected with the world through text messages or emails, and allow for an Internet connection and ultimately live broadcasts of TV programs. On the specially designed in-flight website, a broad range of services will be offered for free, like latest news, TV channels, relevant airline and destination information and unique offers of online magazines.

“Being permanently connected is now part of our customers’ daily lifestyles. This trial run is the first step of Air France’s and KLM’s long-term strategy to offer in-flight connectivity solutions across our long-haul fleet,” said Christian Herzog, senior vice president of marketing for Air France and KLM.

The trial phase will be conducted over the year 2013 on two Boeing 777-300s, operated by each airline. During this period, travelers will be able to hook up to the Internet via their Wi-Fi enabled smartphone, laptop or tablet PC at a fixed rate, as well as use their mobile phone for SMS or email, whatever their travel class.

It sounds like a great program, and one we hope to see more of on other airlines in the future.

[Flickr via slasher-fun]

Travel Tech: Uses For Your Smartphone While Traveling



Travel without our iPhone, Android or Blackberry? Surely, you jest. That baby is practically glued to our thumbs as we photograph, text and tweet our way through our travels. Our phone has even saved our lives on more than one occasion – TaxiMagic and Google Maps, thank you.

Which explains why we can’t get enough of this new infographic from ebookers. Are you using your phone when you travel?