It's Time To Get Your Curation On

I love the quote from noted inventor and businessman Charles Kettering, who said, “My interest is in the future because I’m going to spend the rest of my life there.” For those of us working in travel, the future looks like a place where myriad tools will allow us to shape and deliver highly personalized, immediately relevant and richer experiences that will dramatically enhance the way we see the world.

Mobile and location-based technology are driving the revolution, but it’s also being fueled by the mash-up of social media, booking tools, user- and expert-generated content, virtual reality and face recognition — all aggregated in one elegant, easy-to-use application that is highly curated.

A great example of how this concept is already manifesting is in the travel app MyCityWay that is available for most of the major cities around the world. It’s a real-time platform that provides the user with information to not just navigate within a city, but to discover and enjoy it.

Everything from traffic cameras, to booking restaurants on OpenTable, to finding food trucks, to getting the latest feeds from Yelp are all in one place. It’s a very elegant mixture of content, geo-location and functionality. It also lets you get your information as a “tourist,” “local” or “commuter” or you can customize it to yourself. No wonder BMW has chosen to invest in this company’s approach to mobility.

Louis Vuitton is already establishing its own approach to curation with the Amble app, which recommends travel experiences based on the brand’s distinct and elegant sense of style. It features exclusive tips from friends of the Louis Vuitton brand like Sofia Coppola and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Indeed, the concept of curated content is increasingly the filter through which travelers will be able to successfully navigate the abundance of information that surrounds us. Shaping it to fit our personalities or perhaps choosing some persona or passion that might fill our imagination or needs. Foodie? Click here. Fashionista? No problem. Punk Rocker? All set.

Increasingly, you’ll be able to add other factors like your age. No doubt a 50-year-old fashionista is going to have a different perspective than an 18-year-old one. And the reality is that the word “family” can mean very different things if your kids are age 3 and 5 versus 13 and 17. Content that wraps around these details and speaks exactly to your needs will soon be the norm.

At the same time, the information being served to you will also factor in things like the weather, so that if it’s pouring rain outside and you’re searching for things to do with your kids that day, it will only serve up indoor venues. And if you’re looking for a restaurant at lunch time, it will delete establishments that are only open at dinner.

You’ll also be able to have an incredible array of tools accompany you throughout the destination that will add depth, richness and insights to your travels. The Collectrium app already lets you point at art and learn about the work. Tools like Leafsnap use face recognition technology to help you identify plants and flowers simply by pointing at them with the camera in your cell phone. Can similar apps for birds, insects and other items be far behind? How different that hiking experience or walk through the garden can instantly become. It’s also a great equalizer, enabling people of virtually every income level to traverse a destination as if accompanied by a legendary botanist, historian or style icon.

Language will also become less of a problem, as everyone going into a foreign land can eliminate a good deal of the anxiety by using the already available Word Lens app that lets you point at something like a menu or sign and not only have the text translated but to do it in context, with the same typeface, colors and texture. Plus, continued advances in voice and language recognition surely mean that some kind of reliable, instant translation tool will become a traveler’s most basic companion.

With so many of these technologies now available and others close behind, the future may actually already be here. In fact, it won’t be long before one of the key selling points of staying at a particular property might be its ability to give you a dynamic concierge and tour guide that fits in your pocket and delivers a truly immersive experience in that destination. It will be an experience that extends well beyond the property—offering access, information and tools that are personalized to you and uniquely curated by that brand or business in ways that I believe we’re only starting to fully understand and appreciate.

If Charles Kettering were alive today, he’d not only be thinking about traveling in the future, but quite eager for it to arrive.

1 comment about "It's Time To Get Your Curation On ".
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  1. Christi Pemberton from GC Style Magazine, November 7, 2011 at 11:24 a.m.

    Yes technology has given us great convenience, ability for us to use our creativity and do things that we never had been able to do before. As long as we see technology as a "compliment to" enhancing our human experience and ability or our brains to learn during our travels....then we are in good shape. Looking at the Wordlens app. that is convenient way for quick translations of words...but it does not nearly replace actually our "learning" the language and learning how to be fluent. In many cultures, learning the language or at least the basics of it as "opposed" to just doing a point n' translate with our apps actually shows respect for the country that you visit and its residents. People expect for you to take time to learn at least the language basics to speak to them and have a conversation.....regardless of how basic it is.

    We have become a bit more lazy in this society expecting technology to do most of the work instead of us exercising our own brains to do it. There is a difference between allowing an app to aid in our experiences or allowing the app to do all the work without us using our own learning capacity. I know that you mentioned WordLens able to identify the word meaning used in context, but languages are very complicated and even in if you have a word translated in a certain context...that word usage can still be wrong...especially if we look at how word usage continuously evolve and then include the fact that slang words are always being added and changed and evolving.

    As far as the selling point of the property where you my stay to offer a dynamic concierge and tour guide in your pocket, does that mean the property will have its own app to deliver that service to you..a service of a compilation of different suggestions or local curated tours via app to give you? That is happening via online now with Singapore. If you go to, it is doing that through their website, but I don't know if the app is available yet.

    What one has to consider in regards to apps becoming a concierge is that another huge selling point for travel and other experiences is "exclusivity". Not everyone wants to do or have access to something that "everyone else" has access to. There are quite a few people who want "exclusivity" to make their trip a bit more "special". So apps that allow everyone to have this experience will not appeal to everyone. If there is a way to join a particular app to the "not everyone can have access to this app", then you will have a strong product. Then you have people who like the "old fashioned' concierge experience because it has a more direct human experience element to it and more of that "status" thing linked as well.


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