Top travel tips for the coming new year
EVERY year, in the column closest to the new year, I try to project into the near future and outline the trends that are likely to become travel realities over the coming months. Technology
It is this area where the biggest advancements in travel seem to be being made, and 2015 will be no exception.
The Marriott Hotel chain has begun a test program in 31 of its properties that enables guests to check into their room before they even arrive at their hotel.
The guests communicate their arrival time on their smartphone during the check-in process, and the hotel will ensure the rooms are ready by the time they enter the property. The Hyatt Union Square Hotel in New York reports 40 per cent of their guests already check in via their iPad program.
A number of global brands have begun offering connectivity that enables you to enter your room without a key card.
On a separate issue, in study after study, travellers have said they expect Wi-Fi to be a free service in their rooms. The smaller properties steadily moved to provide the service free to their guests, while the larger corporate chains held off.
Now, more and more of them are moving to including it for guests who belong to their loyalty program, and more are offering basic Wi-Fi free of charge.
The growth of smartphones for travel will continue unabated as we attach apps for world golf courses, navigation and language translation.
You can actually acquire an app that will show you the position of your incoming aircraft in flight, or the exact location of the cruise ship you may be taking for your next vacation. A more local experience
While the all-inclusive vacation may still be the preferred choice for those of us seeking a short sun destination escape, for more exotic and longer planned vacations, the trend toward renting homes keeps increasing in numbers every year.
There are now numerous websites that facilitate house rentals around the world, even for short-duration stays.
One of the newest accommodation options for travellers unveils itself in what might be described as a modern version of couch surfing.
Once the way only young people travelled, today the less sophisticated version of the traditional bed and breakfast has taken on expanded meaning as homeowners invite you to stay in their ‘spare room,’ dine with them, and even join them for tours of the cities in which they live.
A somewhat different version of the old hostel experience, also once only the purview of younger travellers, has expanded into what are called ‘poshtels.’ These are an improved version of the youth hostel, and appeal to those who want more privacy than hostels offered, but still provide for excellent social interaction within a cost efficient framework.
Great immersion in the places we visit are offered by sites such as eatwith.com that provide meals and cooking classes with locals in destinations around the world. Air Miles are not really air miles
The major reward programs offered by airlines for your loyalty are changing their strategy.
Once point levels were awarded on distance flown, but that is changing instead to a reward system based on price paid per ticket.
Those of us now flying in economy class, regardless of how frequently, will not be receiving rewards at the same level as those in the front business-class sections.
Aeroplan, not the first to do so in North America, has already announced the shift. Activity-based vacations
Golf was once the most popular activity pursued by those seeking things to do while on vacation.
The Tiger Woods era seems to have passed when the overbuilding of golf courses during the height of his popularity motivated golf interest. Today in the United States, a golf course is closing approximately every 48 hours.
Given the fact most golf courses insist players use carts, the degree of activity could be questioned anyway.
Now it’s cycling and hiking that have moved up into the high-demand activity categories for travellers.
An appreciation for the need for exercise to stay healthy for young and old alike has seen companies such as Canada’s own G Adventures move into the forefront for travellers seeking more from their vacations.
They have become a major player in the industry sector that provides activity-based packages from below the sea to high up the mountains, and all the terrain in between. Solo travel is catching on
While suppliers are still not totally addressing the frustration single travellers have with what they perceive to be unfair single-supplement pricing, solo travel is starting to take off in a big way.
Internet information on tourism destinations, along with the many review sites available to those researching places they wish to visit, has given solo travellers greater knowledge about regions, cities and countries that are deemed safe.
Rather than being inhibited by fear, the emerging solo traveller is approaching his or her planning with a greater sense of confidence and independence.
There are many more travel patterns that are emerging than can be covered in one column. Over the coming weeks, I will try to highlight at least some of them.
Forward your travel questions to email@example.com. Ron Pradinuk is president of the Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can
be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found at journeystravelgear.com or read Ron’s
travel blog at thattravelguy.ca.
An app is now available that can provide the exact location of your scheduled aircraft.