Here are five travel trends culled from consumer and industry publications this week. They point to directions that are changing the face of travel, here and abroad:
1) Hotels with Human Navigators
Travelers want their experiences to be authentic; they are frustrated when hotel concierges only tell them what they have already read in guidebooks. They're looking, instead, for the inside scoop. At its 151 Renaissance Hotels (acquired by the company in 1997), Marriott has hired staff to serve as "navigators," trained to provide guests with insider information on the best ways to experience local culture. In addition, the brand offers a free Navigator mobile iPhone/iPad app for its guests on the go in cities across the world. For a limited time, the app is free using the code intheknow.
Source: The Motley Fool
2) Steamboats on the Mississippi
The 436-passenger American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, embarked from New Orleans en route to its home port in Memphis, Tennessee this week. After a $6 million overhaul by the Great American Steamboat Company, the new boat will begin its inaugural season with three- and ten-day river cruises on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Godmother Priscilla Presley will be christening the boat before its first journey.
Source: The Memphis Commercial Appeal
3) Women Hijacking Men's Luggage
File this one under: Don't Tell Your Husband. A recent study conducted at London Stansted Airport and reported in the Telegraph found that when men traveled with a female companion, more than half wound up sharing their luggage real estate with her. Also, 37 percent of those female companions had to reshuffle from one suitcase to another at check-in to avoid overweight baggage charges.
Source: The Telegraph (UK)
4) Travelers with $10K Mobile Phone Bills
One of my favorite travel writers, Scott McCartney, writes a Wall Street Journal column called "The Middle Seat," published each Thursday. This week, McCartney wrote about a university employee at Texas A & M who inadvertently ran up a $10,000 phone bill because his computer was set to automatically update software. According to McCartney, the FCC reports that in 2010, 1 in 6 cell phone users experienced a phenomenon called "bill shock." The article provides helpful hints on keeping your voice and data charges under control when travelling overseas.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
5) Small is Beautiful Hotel Rooms
In part due to the economic downturn, Americans are downsizing many aspects of their lives—including their homes, their cars, and their diets. According to Hotels.com, another travel trend: Hoteliers are cutting back on guest room size, too. With reduced average lengths of stay and people packing lighter due to airline baggage fees, guests no longer need large closets or oversized dressers with drawers. Going small doesn't necessarily compromise luxury. Flat-screen TVs are welcome space-savers, and huge writing desks have given way to more functional computer desks. One example of the trend towards small in its extreme: the teeny rooms of the new POD hotels, designed for economy.