Travel Has Changed
In a few days, the United States will celebrate its independence from England for a July 4th holiday. Celebrated with fireworks, cookouts, and visits to friends and family, this means lots of travel.
As with most services these days, travel is not what it used to be. Take American highways, for instance, some years back they were nowhere near as crowded. There was a time when families would plan at least a ‘motor travel’ each year. They would make time for familiar stop-offs, including renown attractions such as South of the Border in South Carolina.
On two recent round-trip road travels between South Florida and Washington, D.C., South of the Border, a half way point in a 1,200-mile (2,000-kilometer) journey between Miami and New York City, was nearly deserted; that’s passing by four times in just as many weeks. And, each time, just a handful cars were scattered about the 130-acre (52-ha) attraction. South of the Border hosts such diversions as a small amusement park, mini-golf course, shopping, a fireworks store, a 200-foot (61 m) observation tower, and Reptile Lagoon, the largest indoor reptile exhibit in the U.S. Even the 300-room motel was vacant. It would be difficult to imagine that even a bus would stop due to the time getting to destinations. The wiki entry for this faux Mexican-themed campy attraction South of the Border states the 1950-era stop-off “has since fallen on hard times.”
South of Border is the epitome of a relic, a symbol of a bygone era. Yet, it is still a visible icon to each of the 75,000 to 300,000 cars that zoom by on I-95 each day (and as many as 10,000 trucks). The scene is a stark reminder that the way most Americans—and the rest of the world—travel.
A Different Type of Experience
Travelers these days seek a different experience from previous generations. In part, it’s due to available technology, but even more, users expect their travel to be time-efficient, hassle-free, with some perceived value from their choices. And while all travelers seek memorable experiences, more recent generations pursue those objectives quite differently.
The popular travel fare aggregator Booking.com, reinforces the idea that today’s travelers are seeking very different experiences. This Amsterdam-based online service also compiles travel data, and this year (2019) they report more than half of global travelers seek “sustainable travel choices.”
Specifically, among those who plan a year ahead, according to their survey, 73% of global travelers intend to include a least one eco-friendly or green accommodation. “They would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly, whether they were looking for a sustainable stay or not.”
It also would be hard to ignore how mobile devices have altered our travel experiences. Users obtain greater freedom and flexibility using connected devices on the journeys. “Traveling with a Smartphone and mobile data has been a revelation, Belen Vidal, a blogger wrote. (My devices) reminded me of all my journeys and reservations; it was there to guide me when I got lost . . (help to) “keep me busy on long travels, or to help me find out interesting facts about the places I was visiting.”
Not just devices, but applications are playing a significant role in travelers’ experiences. This summer many travelers may experience augmented reality by airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and attractions, designed to influence its users with holistic views of their upcoming travel. Additionally, users should expect service providers using shared data to build profiles and use them later on to create loyalists. These service providers may not realize they are using service design techniques, but that’s exactly what’s taking place.