10 ways to improve the travel industry right now
Yet we keep traveling.
Not simply because we like to travel or because we must travel, but because we accept that the world is an imperfect place and the travel industry an imperfect business that likes, when possible, to get by on the bare minimum.
Nevertheless, there are some fixes that could be implemented quickly and cheaply that would make travel much more pleasant for everyone.
We seek neither the impractical (first-class leather seats in coach), the implausible (teleportation), nor the unrealistic (airport concourses that demand less walking than a breast cancer fund-raiser).
Even better, none of the brainstorms below are protected by patents, licenses or other legal restrictions, so Big Travel can feel free to scoop them up and begin making our lives better right away.
1. Update hotel check-in times
In 1946, the Tote?m convenience-store chain extended its hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., announcing its groundbreaking move by changing its name to 7-Eleven.
In 1974, the company now known as ACCEL/Exchange booted up the world?s first 24-hour ATM network.
In 2005, England and Wales ushered in the era of never-ending beer drinking by granting licenses allowing pubs to serve liquor round-the-clock.
Yet as nonstop commerce has created a sleepless planet, hotels remain mired in conventions of the 1800s, when the steam train rolled in and out of town once each afternoon and again the following morning.
With airlines cleaving away from the hub-and-spoke system — which once rigidly controlled arrival and departure times — in favor of more or less continuous schedules and red-eye flights, the hotel industry needs to restructure its own arrival and departure policies to reflect modern traffic flow.
Few miseries compare to landing in a city at 6 a.m. only to while away the morning in traveler?s purgatory awaiting an ?early? 1 p.m. check-in that you had to grovel to get.
The major hotel chain that figures out a way to implement ?anytime check-in? on a mass scale will become the new Hilton.
Unless, of course, Hilton gets to it first.
2. Invent a universal plug socket
A few years ago, tech-connected people lived in an era of many too gadgets and not enough laptop sockets, wondering why the hell devices couldn?t just share the same plug-ins.
Then someone invented the USB.
The travel industry is suffering from a similar connection problem.
Two thin pins in the United States; two round pins in Europe; three chunky pins in the United Kingdom; three even chunkier pins in India, with some smaller three-pins occasionally used for really old lamps.
There are attempts to paper over this dilemma. But what if you?re not lucky enough to be in a business hotel with a full 3×2 foot panel dedicated to a dozen types of plug shapes?
What if you don?t want to carry around three different personal plug adaptors that might work, if you?re lucky?
China has started to try to solve this problem, with some hotels employing single, all-purpose wall sockets able to accept various shapes and numbers of pins.
Isn?t it time everyone started doing the same?
3. Bring us the check
Nothing spoils a meal like being held hostage to an uppity or lackadaisical waiter?s notion of when you?ll be allowed to leave the restaurant.
Checks should be delivered with the final course, at least for businesses lunches.
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