Want to know what's on the horizon in travel for 2015? Below are some of my personal favorite picks.
Your Rental Will Look More Like a Hotel
If you're interested in staying at the new Drift San Jose, a stylish eight-room property in Los Cabos, Mexico, that appeals to independent millennials, you won’t be able to book through its website, or any hotel website, for that matter. Rooms are available only through Airbnb. That’s a sign of things to come: since the apartment-rental behemoth enlisted boutique-hotel guru Chip Conley in 2013 to advise hosts on how to improve the guest experience (scented candles, fresh fruit, ambient music), the line between hotels and rentals has become blurred. Airbnb has introduced a range of initiatives to this effect, including a Super Host program that highlights some of the site’s most professional-style listings and a three-day conference that offers tips for aspiring hosts. Other rental services, such as the high-end One Fine Stayand the affordable-minded BeMate, are also stepping into this nebulous middle ground, offering guests cleaning and concierge services. BeMate will even store luggage for you and, in lieu of room service, deliver food from nearby partner hotels.
You'll Sleep Better on the Road
Las Vegas may be the best place to rest up right now, thanks to an array of sleep-centric tech enhancements—in lighting and furniture design—in 171 rooms (and counting) at theMGM Grand. And that hotel isn’t alone in prioritizing your REM sleep. Fifteen years after introducing the Heavenly Bed, Westin is piloting wearable monitors with a companion sleep-coach app, which it hopes to roll out to hotels in the near future. Crowne Plaza, meanwhile, has unveiled anew headboard that helps cut ambient noise by 30 percent. Here’s a closer look at how hotels are rethinking your bedtime routine.
Stay Well Dawn Simulator: The bedside fixture at the MGM Grand gradually wakes you up with cortisolproducing shades of blue light.
Noise-Reducing Headboards: The next-generation Crowne Plaza room features angled, padded headboards placed slightly away from the wall to minimize ambient sounds.
Healthy Mattress: MGM’s organic-cotton mattress builds in extra posture support to eliminate tossing and turning.
Sleep Monitors: Lark Technologies’ wrist sensors at Westin hotels will track your movements at night and analyze the causes of any restlessness.
All About Spa & Wellness
Spa and Wellness Tourism predicted to grow at nearly twice the rate of general tourism.
Your Phone Will Become Your Wallet
Championed by Google and cemented by Apple Pay, mobile transactions are about to become the new normal. Sync your credit and debit cards with Google Wallet (for Android) or Apple’s Passbook (iOS), and you’ll be able to buy things simply by placing your phone in front of a sensor at checkout. Taking a page from Uber, an increasing number of travel apps, such as Airbnb and OpenTable, now offer digital transactions that link to your card.
You'll Take Your Networking to New Heights
Applicants to Delta’s Innovation Class can earn an airplane seat beside business leaders, such as Gilt cofounder Alexandra Wilson and chef Sean Brock, as they fly to industry events. KLM passengers can use the airline’s Meet & Seat program to choose their seatmates based on social-network profiles.
You'll Discover That Million-Dollar Idea
First there were the C-suite summits of Bohemian Grove and Davos. Then came the intelligentsiafests of TED and South by Southwest. Now these sorts of niche gatherings— which once drew mostly industry insiders with cultlike devotion—are gaining mainstream appeal. Just count the number of times someone drops “South by” into a conversation, and witness the proliferation of big-name, big-ticket conferences and meetings like Tina Brown’s Women in the World. Hotels are also getting in on the action. Properties like the Quin, in New York City, and Andaz hotels offer cultural programming and on-site salons. At the new Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa, in Colorado, owner John Hendricks is leveraging his connections as the Discovery Channel founder to produce Curiosity Retreats, which feature time with physicists, technologists, and foreign-policy experts. And if you can’t get to TED, the TEDx franchise has given rise to mini events in resorts from Santa Barbara to Tulum, Mexico. Look for them at ted.com.
BIG Brands - Boutique Hotels
Global hotel brands are continuing to establish “boutique” / “lifestyle” brands aimed at discerning affluent travelers. Example: Marriot Edition Hotels, / Hilton Curio / Radisson Red and Millennials e.g. Marriot’s Moxy brand.