Many young people try to use travel to get away from the increasingly enveloping world of electronic devices. But with tech increasingly becoming a helpful guide rather than an annoying distraction, the trend might be under threat from those who can’t resist the benefits of a digitally-enhanced travel experience.
Apps that harness unprecedented quantities and qualities of information are disrupting all corners of the travel industry – and with phone and data access increasingly easy to find in foreign countries, young people will soon be able to take these digital companions with them everywhere.
Here are three technologies innovating in the travel market.
1 DELI Amsterdam
DELI Amsterdam uses a simple web technology that’s recently become popular through social media to help young travellers find the best destinations. Though crowdsourced websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are an entertaining source of reviews from the masses, they can be a wildly uneven source of information when you’re actually trying to make a decision, with one reviewer often singing the praises of a restaurant or locale and the next just as quickly shooting it down. DELI Amsterdam has a new outlet for professional reviews that uses a personality quiz to elegantly combine editorial expertise with the more personalized feel of review sites. By tailoring the reviews presented to users’ demographics and personal preferences.
One of the obstacles to smartphone innovation in travel is the unpredictable service coverage a customer might get in a new country. Even if they get data service upon arrival, huge roaming charges might make the use of many apps prohibitive. Maybe someday there will be worldwide free 4G networks, but until then apps like Muuzii will make a killing. This translation service, which is currently available in English, Spanish and Chinese, works entirely through SMS. In exchange for a USD $2.99 fee, it uses human translators for accurate, conversational results, allowing you to avoid Google Translate faux pas.
Though it can be hard to sell impulsive trips to a contingent that often doesn’t know if they’ll have a job in two weeks, a new startup called Options Away has an idea that favours the uncertain over the early birds: for a small fee ($36 for the longest hold) travellers can lock in certain fares for three to twenty-one days, giving them some extra time to decide on that ultra-cheap fare deal. Though some airlines already have this feature, it hasn’t gained the mainstream appeal that it should, perhaps because old-fashioned companies haven’t realized its enormous data-gathering potential.
The WYSE Travel Confederation’s report emphasises the high amount of travel spending among young people, in spite of their tight budgets. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that youth travel generated US $182 billion in international tourism receipts in 2012, and represented more than 20% of the more than one billion international arrivals.
And this compares favorably with older travelers, surprisingly. According to Student Marketing, youth travellers stay longer (average 53 days), spend more (US$1,000 to US$6,000 per trip) and travel more frequently (1.44 trips per year) than the average tourist, and they’re also more likely to use their money with local retailers. And because they gravitate toward locally-owned activities and accommodation, money spent in a given location tends to stay there.
That’s why better catering to a travelling youth audience is money well-spent for more reasons than one.