WRTD Five travel apps & websites that bring responsible travel alive by enriching traveller experiences and building better relationships with brands
I’ve been trolling through end of year articles on how travel apps will make a difference to your trip and it feels like an excuse for journalist to take a deep dive (short for republishing stories instead of coming up with creative and useful new material) into old copy. I don’t want old stories about Booking.com or tired apps, or what was popular last year. I read that last year.
So this story has a few interesting ideas. I was talking to someone a couple of days ago about how they always wanted to go to Egypt, but it will probably never happen, because it doesn’t feel safe any more. Some people are getting too old for adventure tourism. I certainly agree when I look at what my daughter just went through through in the Philippines. Just 2 hours after she arrived at her river resort, she got a phone call from the management saying they had to evacuate urgently because the river was going to flood due to a major storm, called Seniang (Jangmi).
She (unlike some other guests) managed to grab her luggage and leave, not long before the roof of her room was totally submerged. She spent the next two nights on a concrete floor being cared for by locals, then when the water started going down, went to to the airport to get out of the place only to find:
1. The insurance company would not pay for the difference in having to change flights (after the call center spoke to her supervisor) under the ‘loss of enjoyment clause’, i.e. you can’t claim insurance because you don’t like a place any more; just because it is flooded to the rooftops and you have had a frightening potentially life threatening experience, doesn’t mean you can just up and leave, you have to stay somewhere else in the same place, if you can find one, because thousands of other suddenly homeless or stranded people are in the same boat as you. Will this help? Here’s the story for now from the Manilla Bulletin. Perhaps Mr Assessor you could look on the video and suggest which one of these spots you would send your daughter to?
2. The airport had been closed because of the storm, many flights throughout the area had been cancelled and to catch up, the earliest flight she can get on is 5 January, so she’s stuck there anyway and given that boats weren’t allowed to leave the harbor (not that I’d want her on one with the 15,500 people who were also stranded due to that sensible decision) there really wasn’t a safe way to get out.
Luckily she found a resort that had a room left, it was a luxury room, more expensive than the resort she had been in. but a girl can’t sleep on a concrete floor in a strangers home for a week unless she has to. A big thanks here though to the wonderful Filipino people for their hospitality. So there will be an interesting discussion with the insurance company subsequently because they want paperwork from the resort to prove that she couldn’t stay here. “Hang on please Mr Insurance claim person while I snorkel down to my office and find a piece of letterhead”.
But I digress, it’s been a stressful few days.
The first couple of apps in this story are about apps that allow you to experience a place without being there. What I don’t like about a lot of apps like this is the concept of a tourist video where everyone sees the same film. That’s the point of traveling isn’t it, that you have a unique experience that isn’t pre-canned. So Africam allows you to watch places like a watering hole in the African bush, which sends out a tweet if a wild animal turns up for a drink or a play. Now you can see something that is happening in real time as if you were really there. No-one knows what will happen next. That’s a very cool use of technology. People who can afford to go might decide from watching that they will go and see the real thing, which provides payback, while those who can’t go, still get to have a unique African experience. Thumbs up from me.
Pack for a Purpose is another very cool app. The idea being, instead of filling up your luggage with extra clothes you aren’t going to wear, you can look online and see what people need in the area you are going to. Now if you are going on that trip to the Philippines, you can bring clothing, or Africa might be pencils and reading books for a children’s orphanage.
Storymap from Dublin is cool in that it lets you click on places on the map and watch videos or read stories about things that happened on that spot. It’s cool, but for me it needs to deliver the mobile promise that is starting to happen around the world. I want information that is GPS triggered, delivered to my mobile that gives me options not only to learn about the place I am at right now, or 200 meters away in the direction I am walking, but also to be able to leave my own message, sounds and images.
Imagine my daughter being able to leave a virtual geocoded (GPS location tagged) message with a photo of her resort room with a tiny piece of the roof showing, and talking about her loss of enjoyment insurance clause to the person who is trying to minimize the insurance claim and wanting documentation from the drowned hotel to prove that she actually has nowhere to stay. Imagine also if she could mark a trail to the home of the people who took her in for a couple of scary nights (they might of course not want the publicity), so that others could pass that location and give them some flowers or just let them know that people appreciate their thoughtfulness and care, bringing total strangers into their home. Now that would make for a great story map. Imagine the stories that ordinary people could leave on street corners. Places where songs were written, pledges of everlasting love were made, people rescued each other from the rampaging mud and water that destroyed peoples homes and livelihoods and the subsequent rebuild. All accessible on your mobile as you walk along. Imagine if you could then leave your own story at the same place for others to find. I’d like to do that journey, drive up the hill and hug and shake the hands of the people who helped look after my daughter while I was stuck anxiously hoping for the next TXT message to say she was OK.
So let’s not just rehash old apps, let’s look for new experiences that will enrich our lives, whether it be in the world as we travel it, or virtual travel from the safety of our own homes. It’s 31 December 2014 and I wish you a very happy and safe New Year for 2015.