As the World Turns

In search of the Next Big Thing, a trav­eler may miss the ob­vi­ous

Business Traveler (USA) - - TALKING POINT -

Once more the cir­cle of the year has come around, and we find our­selves back, it seems, at some­thing of a start­ing point. In the US, La­bor Day is past, and for many of us, that means after the rel­a­tive dol­drums of sum­mer the mo­men­tum of business travel ac­cel­er­ates; set­ting up meet­ings, board­ing air­planes, book­ing ho­tel rooms, mak­ing restau­rant reser­va­tions, rent­ing cars – if you’re a business trav­eler, you know the drill.

In fact, we all know the drill so well that we be­come in­ured to – or at least blasé about – the mar­vel of what ev­ery trip en­tails. Hurtling through the at­mos­phere at 500-plus miles an hour in an alu­minum (or in­creas­ingly, a com­pos­ite) tube with thou­sands of mov­ing parts, to reach a city half-way round the world, to shake somebody’s hand and share your sto­ries.

It’s a won­der that any of it works at all; that it works as well as it does is down­right as­tound­ing. Try not to lose sight of that next time you’re stand­ing in the air­port se­cu­rity line.

Per­haps as as­ton­ish­ing is how swiftly it all has be­come so com­mon­place. Here at Business Trav­eler it’s our job to keep an eye on the lead­ing edge of travel. As a con­se­quence, lots of newsy lit­tle tid­bits come our way; some are down­right out­landish, oth­ers more in­trigu­ing – and a few may even the Next Big Thing.

Two items crossed my desk re­cently, one look­ing back at a bit of his­tory and another cast­ing a for­ward glance. Each was in­trigu­ing in its own right; both to­gether gave me pause to think about the na­ture of change in this business of travel.

First, the his­tory. This July marked the 60th an­niver­sary of the Boe­ing Dash 80’s maiden flight – the pro­to­type of the plane that would be­come the leg­endary 707. It didn’t take long for this fly­ing ma­chine to turn the world lit­er­ally up­side down, be­com­ing part of a whole cul­tural revo­lu­tion and shrink­ing the dis­tances sep­a­rat­ing far-off places from days to hours. In 1954, it was truly the Next Big Thing. Now for the fu­ture cast. Paris-based Tech­ni­con De­sign has con­ceived a business air­craft in­te­rior that would dis­play, in real time, 360-de­gree views of the plane’s ex­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment on flex­i­ble screens lin­ing the in­te­rior cabin – in­clud­ing the walls and ceil­ing. The ef­fect is to give pas­sen­gers the feel­ing of fly­ing through the air in a big glass tube.

It would be like the images you see from those in­flight tail cam­eras, only splashed all over the inside of your plane in high def­i­ni­tion.

So is this des­tined to be the Next Big Thing in travel? Will it be a game-changer like the 707 was? Ob­vi­ously it’s too soon to say.

But in ev­ery is­sue of Business Trav­eler, you’ll find sto­ries about de­vel­op­ments in travel that will at least of­fer you a new out­look, if not change your game en­tirely. This month we ex­plore what’s com­ing in the pre­mium cabin ex­pe­ri­ence ( Games of Thrones, page 30) and in­flight tech­nol­ogy ( Lofty Con­nec­tions, page 16).

Whether it’s el­e­gance meet­ing ad­ven­ture ( The Beyond Amaz­ing List, page 20) or ris­ing stars of hos­pi­tal­ity (Asia’s Business Play­ers, page 24), in this and ev­ery is­sue, you’ll find for­ward look­ing sto­ries about the travel fu­ture that’s com­ing your way.

But even as you read in th­ese pages about all the changes in travel, re­mem­ber: It’s travel it­self that changes things – and changes us. All the cre­ativ­ity and en­ergy and tech­nol­ogy that goes into mak­ing travel bet­ter has but one goal – to take us places, ex­pand our view and bet­ter con­nect us to our world.

So if you’re search­ing for the Next Big Thing in travel, re­mem­ber – travel is the Next Big Thing. BT

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