You may remember earlier in the year, I attended the Travel and Adventure Show in San Diego as part of the media. There I tried my hand at segway riding, perused aisle after aisle of all things travel, and listened as Pauline Frommer discussed the next ‘big’ things in travel. Recently, I got the opportunity to interview the creator of the Travel and Adventure Show series, John Golicz. His trade shows influence well over 130,000 attendees annually and is the largest series of its kind in the United States. Now in its 13th year, the show gives travel enthusiasts the chance to dream, plan, and book trips with inside local information from thousands of experts. John resides in Madison, CT with his wife, Julie, with whom he has three grown children. Perhaps next time the Travel and Adventure Show comes to a city near you, you’ll take opportunity to ‘dream, plan and book’.
1.When did you get started traveling? My parents are both European (Polish) and we have an extensive European family. While I was born in the States, I have vivid memories of living in London for a few years around age 5. Starting around age 12, we traveled frequently around Europe including Rome, Paris, London, Barcelona, and Normandy. And of course, I can’t leave out the Florida trip with four other High School friends, which was an impromptu road trip all the way to Marathon Key from Connecticut. That trip taught me a lot of great life lessons that I still value today.
2.Which of your travel experiences has been the most meaningful? I have had some epic journeys, but the most meaningful include family. A couple of years ago, as two of my children were out of college and the third entering, we decided to get them all together to do a two-week trip to London, Paris and their surrounding areas. Per my request, each child needed to plan at least one day of the trip, which lead us to some very interesting spots. From the Huntarian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons to the Churchill Bunkers to the Paris Sewers – I was simply amazed by my children’s curiosities.
3.What are three items you ‘won’t leave home without’? My iPhone, my “Go Bag” (with all my necessities: extra contacts, glasses, charger, meds, etc.) and a carry-on bag.
4.What’s your favorite type of accommodation in which to stay? My absolute favorite is our boat on which we cruise extensively in New England each summer. Otherwise…clean, central to the destination and comfortable.
5.How do you believe the Internet and smart phones have changed travel? They’ve changed it forever. Consumers now have a plethora of information at their fingertips. We are entering the era of TRAVEL ON-DEMAND. Think of how much less advanced planning we need to do today and how much less we’ll need to do in the future. Soon, we will travel like you did if you “Backpacked Europe” in your youth. Want to go somewhere? Pick up your phone, book your air/train, arrive, open the HotelTonight app and your phone lists hotels that match your profile at a discount price. Boom – you have lodging. Open your Uber app and your car/taxi arrives. When in transit, click OpenTable and now your dinner is all set all without any advanced planning.
6.In your opinion, what are the three hottest travel apps today? ANY Airline app, UBER and Hotel Tonight tied with Sky Scanner
7. What’s the best advice you give to travelers?
- Take Pictures with your phone (synced to the cloud) of any/all important documents – passport, credit cards (both sides), driver’s license, prescriptions, etc. Always make sure to password protect your phone.
- CARRY ON – Hotel laundry, or better local wash and folds, are easier on your wallet and your back. If you just can’t handle the bag, GATE CHECK for free – they usually ask, but you can also ask them. Remember, ground and crew staff are rated on on-time departure, so they are happy to gate check for free to speed up the boarding process.
- New City? Find a local Walking Tour operator and get acclimated to the city as your first activity (Samantha Brown agrees with me) – even if it’s the ubiquitous double-decker tour bus. You really get to see the city, where everything is, and it gets you to plan where to spend time. And, the buses are hop-on hop-off (transportation on day one!)
8.Where are the top three ‘new’ destinations you see travelers heading towards?
- CUBA – as the administration relaxes the restrictions, Americans will want to taste the forbidden fruit.
- Taiwan: food, glitz, Night Markets, Old World China-like experience, adventure, golf, beaches – it has it all in a very Western friendly nation.
- Guatemala: Think Costa Rica 15 years ago.
9.How has travel changed in the last five years and how will it change again in the next five?
- Planning: Today, while many still use a local travel agent to book, new technology, particularly online, allows for comparison shopping and a wealth of P2P reviews. Still, determining what’s real is ever harder. Nevertheless, booking has become device independent and easily available.
- We Carry Less: Do you remember – a backpack or bag, a SLR camera, travelers checks, English/Foreign language dictionary, local currencies, a Walkman or iPod, guide books, maps, etc? The versatile smartphone is a travel wallet and day pack in one; it even takes photos, translates foreign languages, and tracks your location. IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS expect mobile to dominate. ALL of your documents, (even your passport), will be electronic. Your wallet? Leave it home – your phone will do it. No need for much advance planning, just book on your phone and go. When you arrive, your smartphone apps will have already found the perfect room and will have arranged for ground transportation. Your likes will be geotagged – your phone will plan your itinerary based on past likes and present it to you with pre-linked booking options for museum tickets, dinner reservations and traveling routes. Geo-fencing will enable your phone to suggest what’s around you and why you should visit it.
- Air travel is uncomfortable. Security makes for a rather unpleasant airport experience. Airlines have had to dramatically reduce their service and offerings to stay afloat, and low-cost carriers have had a huge impact, including making travel more accessible/affordable to the masses. But, consolidation has taken excess capacity out of the air, so all flights seem full. Slim seating and pitch is reduced so everything feels, and is, tighter – great for the airlines, bad for us. And frequent flier program upgrades? Forget about it! IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS security experience improves dramatically as international databases integrate and biometric scanning speeds you through. The airline experience improves. New airline interiors/planes are on the way. Enhanced overhead bin loading systems are being installed fleet-wide to speed up the boarding process. Inflight entertainment and connectivity is ubiquitous. And for those willing to pay, comfort will return.
- Currency goes “e”: The first job, when arriving in a new destination 20 years ago, was to find a dedicated bank and to convert currency or travelers checks. Today, all it takes is a simple credit/debit card withdrawal at any ATM to obtain local cash. IN THE NEXT 5 years, Currency is optional, your phone pays for everything in real time – leave the wallet, don’t lose the phone.
- Communication technologies: Who remembers phone cards? Pay phones? Again, Mobile technology lets you see, talk to, and research the world around you. Your phone can even translate signs, and offer basic language translation. Metro confusing? Look to your phone. IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS One phone = worldwide communications. Data and talk will be one flat-fee worldwide. Foreign language? No problem. Your phone will be a real time voice translator – yes, just like Star Trek. Your friends are with you virtually as social media evolves, and what’s more, suddenly you will have new ones pop up in foreign lands when you are there.
10.In your experience, what have been the two most significant gifts of travel? More Travel = More understanding. The world becomes a smaller place the more you see of it. Acceptance of differences is meaningful and changes preconceived notions. The more you travel, the less you tell people of the sites you have seen, but rather the people you have met!