BY Demola Ojo
This week, Cape Town will host the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit which will bring together close to 150 innovators in tourism and technology to share, discuss and debate how technology can be used to accelerate inclusive and sustainable economic growth through tourism on the African continent.
The summit is one more pointer to the importance of technology in changing the face of travel in the 21st century and how to further harness it.
One example of the many ways technology has improved the travel experience is the Google Trips app.
The planning part of a vacation is probably the least fun part for most people; a study by Good Think found out that 74% of travellers considered it the stressful most part. However, Google Trips’ features make it the perfect travel partner, due its easy-to-use interface which is also available offline.
Not only does this save data, especially while on international roaming, it also makes sure that you aren’t stuck anywhere remote just because you lost internet connectivity.
By virtue of being a search engine behemoth, Google has used the infinite collective wisdom of the internet to answer virtually every possible question you may have with Google Trips.
Questions like: Are tips expected? Do they take dollars (and the exchange rate)? Are there any delicious and affordable dining spots?
Best of all, it helps with a realistic itinerary for fitting in all the sights you want to see into a day.
The simple and easy to use interface proactively offers just about anything you might be looking for, from the visual home screen. It helps with reservation details, restaurant recommendations, day plans, or currency questions and more.
Being a Google app, it is obvious that having a Gmail ID makes things easier. Google Trips first asks you to sign-in using this and once you’re in, it will pull reservation details — like flight details or hotel details — from the mailbox and keep it ready for you.
When you need to find that confirmation number, or prove to immigration authorities that you have a valid reservation, there’s nothing better than having all travel bookings organized in one place. There’s even a direct link to the original email.
If you have Gmail, Google will automatically sync trip data. However, reservations can also be added manually. All you need do is type in the hotel name or flight number and Google will take care of the rest.
Google Trips also has in-depth lists for every possible food craving, from fine dining to local food and anything in between. You’ll also get detailed reviews and user feedback. Restaurant reviews are available offline as long as you download the city guide.
Google Trips also helps with emergency numbers in your destination city. Simply press “need to know” and you’ll have just about everything you need to know, including how to get tax free shopping in most cities.
It’s easy to look up a city’s top attractions, but it’s far more difficult to plan the order in which to visit, or the time it will take between. Google Trips has got your back, offering detailed options for the perfect day trip, including how long it takes to get in between each place, what people are saying about the sights and what kind of transportation is available at each juncture.
Once you’ve used the tools to find the perfect restaurant, best attractions and trendiest bars, you surely don’t want to find them all over again. You can easily drop any of the places that interest you into a “Saved Places” folder. The folder keeps all the contact info, addresses and anything else you might need for each place.
Google Trips has been around for a few years but its latest update has increased its utility, permitting users to track public transport such as a bus and train which might not have email confirmation.
The ‘+’ tab on the bottom right enables users to make manual changes in their schedules such as car rentals and restaurant reservations. Moreover, free-form notes are an important addition in this version of Trips.
Google Trips helps with periodic reminders about your travel schedule and a recent update is the sharing option that allows users to share itinerary with others through email.
The app is certainly a prime example of how technology is aiding travel for savvy 21st century tourist.