Travel Technology Now And Then

With the announcement this week of ApplePay and iWatch, which could impact the way you travel in the future, I thought it would be fun to compare the travel technology trends of today compared to those of 2004!

What are the travel trends of today?  For this I looked to SXSW, Travel & Leisure Magazine, and research conducted by PhoCusWright Travel (who have been writing about travel tech trends for years.)

One of the biggest differences I found was that in 2004 there is really no mention of “apps” as trends. In 2004 the trends seemed to be website related, for the most part.  Today, of course, we’re moving beyond traditional informational apps into interactive apps and wearable technology.

Here are some of the things people are talking about in 2014:

  • Bitcoin ATM – opinions about Bitcoin range from ridiculous to innovative.  Recently began accepting Bitcoin for payment and there are several Bitcoin ATMs around the world.
  • Electric Bikes – not the kind in the gym, we’re talking street bikes here.  A Dutch designer introduced Vanmoof Electrified 10 Bike. The bike uses “Smart Power Assistance” technology, which learns your pedaling habits and adjusts its motor to your needs.  It also has a built in GPS and dashboard that indicates remaining power.  This might not revolutionize the way you travel, but it might make renting a bike in cities like Amsterdam or Chicago a bit more fun.  With the built in GPS you’ll never forget where you parked it.
  • Eyewear Camcorders – in the vain of Google Glass, other vendors have come out with. For $300 you can buy Epiphany Eyewear’s plastic and titanium frames that have a built-in HD camcorder that lets you shoot from two (8GB model) to eight (32GB model) hours of 720p video.
  • Car Sharing – Uber has continued to grow and innovate.  Uber announced integrations with apps like Expensify and now they have partnered with hotels and airlines to give you a seamless travel experience.  There are other companies like Car2Go that are very popular in Europe and take the original Zip Car concept to the next level.  With ZipCar you have to return the car to the same place it was picked up. With Car2Go you can leave the car at other drop off locations.
  • Location Based Apps – apps have been using GPS technology to provide information to travels for a while now but now there are apps that are improving on that experience.  Banter is a theme based chat app that lets you connect in chatrooms with people nearby.  They have chatrooms for foodies, travelers, etc…
  • Gadgets – Mophie came out with their new Space Pack which will give you more storage on your mobile device in addition to giving the battery extra life.  That could be very hand on long haul flights if you want to store movies or shows.  In addition, it gives you more space to store images if you’re not in a place where you can connect to the cloud.
  • Free calls – apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Line you can make free calls and stay connected with loved ones wherever you are.

Now, here is what people were talking (or writing) about in 2004:

  • Travel & Leisure was focused on how innovative hotels were becoming:  discussing a major hotel renovation they say “every room will be equipped with a digital library of 60 films that can be started and stopped at whim. DVD players and flat-screen plasma televisions are already finding their way into top suites worldwide. Last month, the Four Seasons New York unveiled its $9,500-a-night Royal Suite, with flat TV’s in each of the three bedrooms and three bathrooms”   At that time flat-screens and DVD players were innovations for hotels!
  • In another story Travel & Leisure wrote: “Perhaps the ultimate in invisibility is a new protocol for wireless Internet networking. It’s 20 times as fast as a dial-up 56K modem and nearly five times as fast as DSL. At Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, 45 newly installed antennas—each one no larger than a shoe-box lid—make it possible to stay connected wirelessly in your room, in the lobby, by the pool, or on the beach. All you need is a card for your laptop from the front desk. (Many computers, including models from Apple and Hewlett-Packard, now come with the cards already installed.)”   All you need is a card for your laptop from the front desk?  Wow, if you asked for something like that today hoteliers might not know what to do!  The article also said “Only 28 of Hyatt’s 204 hotels, for instance, are wired for fast Internet. Marriott should have zippy Web connections available in 50 percent of its U.S. properties by the end of this year”  Ironically some hotels still don’t have zippy Web connections!
  • Here are the websites that were listed as “must be bookmarked in 2004”.
    • In 2004 you could find international dialing codes, search a worldwide database of country and city codes, or reverse-search an international number on  Today, is not operational.
    •‘s universal currency converter calculates foreign exchange rates for 184 currencies.  (Today you’d probably be using the XE app which is still very popular and reliable.)
    • One of my personal favorites – is a searchable database of more than 4,300 hotels worldwide that have wireless and wired high-speed Internet access.  Visit their site today and you’ll find a message saying “Now you can find the same access in almost every hotel in the world, making this service obsolete.”   Today people are looking for hotels that are off-the-grid!  My how things change.
    • Altavista’s Babel Fish translation site,, is helpful in a pinch it translate a block of 150 words between 37 language pairs.  Wow, 37 languages! Today you can find apps and services that will do that and more!
    • In 2004, was called the best loyalty website saying it will manage your mileage programs and keep you abreast of the latest air, hotel, and car-rental programs. It also has a mileage tool to help you consolidate points.  Today there are dozens of options including AwardWallet which is my favorite.
    • Finally, it was suggested that you bookmark to search for get point-to-point driving directions. Today we’d just rely on our phones for that!

It’s really interesting to compare what we were talking about 10 years ago to what we’re talking about today and what we might be talking about in 10 years from now seems unimaginable.  What are your favorite then and nows?

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