In the future, your hotel room walls will be a digital canvas on which you can display your favorite beach scene or family pictures. In the future, airplanes will be more like cruise ships and self-driving cars will take you wherever you want to go.
That travel future sounds fine, but I have some more practical, realistic, and near-term travel needs.
The business traveler’s micro-routines
There’s a certain monotony that comes along with frequent business travel: a series of micro-routines one must complete in a particular order to move one’s journey forward.
If you travel more than a few times a month for work, you recognize these micro-routines. Your flight lands. You check your calendar to see where you’re going next. You de-plane, beckon an Uber car, hustle out to the curb, and wait. Occasionally, the stars align and the Uber driver arrives within seconds of you stepping outside, but this is rare. Just getting to your first appointment or your rental car requires a travel micro-routine.
The monotony of business travel comes from the repetition of these micro-routines.
Removing the monotony (James Bond-style)
In my quest to travel more like James Bond, I’ve realized that the key to a seamless, enjoyable, focused, productive and smart business travel experience is simple: remove the micro-routines.
James Bond’s travel experience is seamless. Watch any Bond movie and you’ll notice that cars await the spy as soon as he lands; hotels expect him when he arrives; he never waits in check-in lines; his luggage is magically unpacked; his in-room dining meals await. The travel provider’s ability to predict the start of a micro-routine defines the James Bond travel experience.
Identifying micro-routine triggers
The key to building a seamless travel experience lies in identifying the micro-routine triggers: particular moments that move one’s journey forward. Moments such as setting the destination of your Uber car to go to a hotel, or calling the concierge for a wake-up call for your flight home.
With the triggers identified all we need is the ability to automate a series of actions between disparate pieces of the travel experience. Unfortunately, while the technology to do this exists, the ability (or willingness) to execute isn’t.
The habitual travel experience
My itineraries are pretty straightforward: plane to car; car to hotel; hotel to meetings; meetings to hotel; hotel to plane. Repeat.
Every time I land, I need a car. Why can’t the airline automatically beckon an Uber for me? Every time I get in an Uber car at the airport and set the hotel destination, why can’t Uber tell the hotel I’m on the way? Why can’t the hotel automatically check me in?
The near-future of business travel
In the not-to-distant future, online travel itineraries will act much more than information repositories. Services such as TripIt, TripHobo, and TripCase will serve as the central brain for every travel micro-routine and the triggers one creates.
There are three areas in which micro-routines and simple triggers can make an enormous impact on the frequent traveler’s life: simplifying travel planning, seamless transfers, and efficient travel experiences.
Simplified travel planning
Every single time I search for and book a flight, I’m going to need a hotel room. Which means that as soon as I’ve booked a flight and added it to my online travel itinerary, I expect to be presented with the hotel options, near the meeting already on my calendar, from my preferred hotel provider.
The car rental company already knows on which flight I’m arriving. The car rental company already assigns me a car, tells me in which spot I can find it, and e-mails me when I touch down. Want to make this a seamless experience? Instead of having me take a shuttle to the rental car lot, why not meet me outside with the car?
The minute I get in the car and start following the directions to my hotel, why not check me in automatically?
Often I find myself heading to a meeting before checking into the hotel. Wouldn’t it be nice if my Uber driver took my luggage ahead to the hotel for me? Wouldn’t it be great if the hotel automatically checked me in and unpacked my bags?
At the end of the day, a great travel experience is defined by the travel providers’ ability to stay ahead of the business traveler’s next move. For example, I usually arrive at the hotel hungry. I usually order soup and a salad from room service. I usually want a glass of wine and a large bottle of sparkling water. Instead of me having to do this every single time I arrive, why not ask me if I’d like my soup, salad, water, and wine waiting for me in my room?
More often than not, the answer will be yes.
Experimenting on your own
If you’d like to start identifying your business travel triggers and the micro-routines that follow, I suggest you invest in a mobile app called Workflow. The app allows you to create simple micro-routines that help move your journey (or whatever you want) forward in fewer steps.
I’m excited about self-driving cars and digital wallpaper in my hotel room, but I’m far more excited about my travel providers delivering a much more efficient, seamless, and traveler-focused experience. How about you?
We believe in making your travel seamless by enabling your perfect business trip. That’s why we’re proud to present TravelLikeBond: Learn how TripIt can take the stress out of your travel.