Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on May 10th, 2015

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Summer travel is upon us, here are 8 ways technology has made traveling simpler.

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It's May and the summer travel season is sneaking up on us. Schools throughout the US are winding down for the year and parents, kids and teachers are looking forward to summer vacations. Summer fun can involve local tourist activities, domestic travel or international travel. Whatever your plans, you can rest assured technology will have an impact on how you make your plans, where you visit and what you do.

We have had an ongoing series here on the blog discussing how technology has affected specific industries. Today let's take a look at the travel industry. We have discussed travel here on the blog before. We have shared helpful travel tips and apps. Today, let's focus on how technology has changed the travel world.

1. Travel sites. Travel sites such as Expedia, Funjet, and Orbitz are nothing new. Today the industry is deep with varying types of sites. You can find flight specific sites, hotel sites and sites that offer packages. Today technology is hitting the Travel Agents hard. With the rise of online booking, travelers can find the best deals with a few keystrokes and a bit of research. There are comparison sites such as Kayak that will compare flight prices across all airlines to find you the best price. Travel sites can offer travelers lower prices by eliminating commissions paid to agents.  If consumers are willing to do a bit of research, they can find destinations and deals themselves and compare them across multiple sites. Many companies will offer price match guarantees on packages allowing travelers to ensure the best deals. Mobile bookings are on the rise, as hotels.com/ reports an 80 percent jump in mobile bookings in 2014.

2. Air travel. Booking airline tickets is easier than ever. In the same amount of time, a corporate travel coordinator or leisure travel would spend communication their needs to an agent they could have booked a flight themselves via a airlines e-commerce system. Airlines today allow travelers to select their seat assignments as well as the class of travel with a few keystrokes. They will get digital documents sent via email that can be accessed via smartphones eliminating the need for ticketing. If you wish to use an airline agent by phone, there is a charge to do so. You can make or alter your travel plans 24 hours a day 7 days a week without waiting on hold for an agent or hoping to reach someone after hours.

3. Apps.  Airlines, hotels and car companies today have travel apps that allow travelers to store itineraries at their fingertips. No more digging through travel bags to find travel documents and tickets. Today via airline apps you can access your tickets, make seat upgrades and check flight status. There is a Mobile US Passport app as well as apps that will store your travel documents securely in case you loose your physical documents. And apps like FlightTracker allow you to manage your time, get notified of delays and cancellations and more.

4. Social media. Social media can be a double-edged sword in the travel industry. It can be used to assist travelers concerns or it can be used to attack an airline or hotel that has had lackluster service. Travelers stranded on planes will have no problems tweeting about their experience if the airline is less than cooperative. Often times travelers can get travel discounts or reimbursements for less than stellar experiences.

5. Tourism activities. In 2015 you no longer have to wait till you arrive at your destination to purchase admission tickets, book excursions, make dining arrangements or secure parking. With apps like My Disney Experience travelers can have their entire trip planned out and available at their fingertips. Going to a professional sporting event? Book your tickets online or via the team's app. Want to park at your venue, no problem some organizations allow you to secure parking with ticket purchases and there are plenty of third party parking apps available to secure parking in advance.

6. Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor has reviews on hotels, transportation, restaurants and more. They have forums for just about any destination where you can communicate with other travelers. You can ask questions about specific hotels, airport transportation companies, Wifi in specific locations and more.

7. Travel warnings and assistance. Visit the US travel advisory website for any specific travel warnings, contact information and assistance for travel abroad. The site is updated regularly with location warnings, vaccination requirements, health advisories and more. You can access this site 24 hours a day. You no longer have to feel helpless if you have a travel emergency after business hours, on holidays or weekends. Via apps and travel sites you can access assistance or make alternative plans anytime.

8. GPS. Whether your vehicle is equipped with a navigations system or you rely on your smart phone you can find directions, attractions, dining, emergency rooms and any location via GPS. No more fiddling with paper maps, simply type in your destination and off you go.

Today via technology, travelers have more information at their fingertips to make travel by plane, train or automobile easier and less stressful.  Via technology travelers can see available flight times, train departures and arrivals as well as cost and seat availability.  Running late and risking missing your flight, use your airline's app or a third party travel site app to secure an alternative flight. Want to make sure your child meets their favorite Disney character? Secure a fast pass in advance on the day and time you prefer. Want to make sure you have a dinning reservation after a long day of travel, book it online via the restaurant if they have the capability or a third party app such as Open Table.  In 2015 there is no need to panic that you will be stranded without assistance when you have a travel agent at your fingertips via your smartphone. Sure, things happen and Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your trip causing delays that are out of the control of your travel provider, but you can use technology to secure alternatives if they are available. Your flight just got canceled? Find an alternative in seconds or book a rental car all through your phone. What types of technology do you use to make travel easier? Are you a master planner in advance or do you like to take your chances and wing it?  No matter what your travel plans are this summer, chances are that technology will be assisting you in your planning.