What is expected to become standard for travelling this coming decade?

Agoda, an online travel booking platform, has revealed what travellers expect to become the ‘norm’ over the next decade, following a global survey carried out by YouGov Singapore.

The top three expected developments to become standard practice are single apps for all travel needs, passport free travel, and mobile app check-in. This is particularly true among respondents in SE Asia, of whom half listed these as the expected standard over the next decade. Only a third of UK and US respondents expect this to be the new norm, with both countries also less optimistic on the likelihood of passport-free travel, with only 20% expecting this to be the norm. China (44%) and Australia (41%) – along with SE Asian countries – were more positive over this development.

The study also found that exploring more of their own country was cited by 40% of respondents, with international travel anticipated at 35%, and more than 25% wishing to make more eco-friendly choices going forward. UK, South Korea and Australia were the only countries omitting a domestic destination on their wish lists, with New York being the top desire for British travellers.

Kyoto rated the top most-anticipated destination overall, being popular with respondents all around the world, followed by Bangkok and Bali.

Timothy Hughes, Vice President of Corporate Development at Agoda, said: ‘It is a technology golden age for travellers, as technology is developed to simplify the way anyone, anywhere can search, book and pay for flights, hotels or holiday accommodation. The 2000s was defined by the mouse and the computer, putting online travel booking just a click away. The 2010s, was defined by the smart phone and app, and put a travel agent in the pocket of every phone owner, and the 2020s will be defined by the power of data and Machine Learning (AI). This will enable companies like Agoda to provide personalized, more relevant recommendations to make booking travel even easier. Asian travellers, in particular, are enthused by, and expectant of, technology developments that enhance and simplify their travel experience. Asian based companies are now leading the world in technology adoption and development to achieve this. I expect to see Asia press ahead with that lead in the 2020s – especially in areas such as video and augmented reality, improved mobile services with more chat and voice solutions, and payments to help bring the ‘unbanked’ online’.

The study took information from over 16,000 respondents earlier this month.

Brits unaware of WiFi hotspots security risk

UK travellers are exposing themselves to the risk of identity theft when using open WiFi networks, according to new research.

The research by Experian Consumer Services is based on a consumer survey of 1,641 adults in the UK, and highlights the dangers of revealing personal information online when using unsecured WiFi hotspots.

According to the research, nearly half of all Britons using public WiFi hotspots have no idea whether the WiFi network is secure or open when they connect to it via their smart-phones, tablets or laptops. Over 30 percent said that they check the security of a WiFi network before connecting, while 50 percent of the respondents said that they do not understand whether a WiFi network is secure or open when they connect to it.

Adding to the vulnerability, over 58 percent of respondents’ mobile devices connect automatically to available WiFi networks, increasing their risk of identity theft.

In addition to the survey, a live test was conducted at six central London locations to assess WiFi network security levels. Across the six locations, 36 percent or a total of 322 WiFi Hotspots were totally insecure, giving ‘open’ accesses to possible online identity fraudsters looking to misuse unsecured personal information.

Peter Turner, managing director of Experian Consumer Services UK&I, said: ‘WiFi services and the vast choice of mobile devices are empowering us to live more of our online lives whilst on the go. Whilst this brings many advantages, we still need to be wary of any public unsecure WiFi hotspots. Think of them like you would a public phone call. You would not openly discuss something personal or private if you thought people were listening, so don’t say it with your laptop, tablet or smartphone. By being blase, we are all putting ourselves at risk of identity theft.’

The Experian WiFi Hotspots survey also found that most consumers do not know how to securely use WiFi hotspots, with 96 percent of mobile users accessing them without selecting the most secure settings on their mobile devices. Over a third of consumers, or 35 percent, said that they would not connect to WiFi hotspots due to trust concerns.

However, with the new web monitoring services, consumers can instantly be alerted to any fraudulent use of their personal information online, enabling them to identify and stop any suspicious activity. Experian also advises Brits to carry out online banking at home, turn off automatic connection to networks and not to use any apps if they are unsure whether they encrypt data.

 

British Forego Lifestyle for Holidays

Travel loving UK citizens are willing to cut their lifestyle costs so that they can afford to continue taking holidays, according to a recent survey.

The research carried out by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agents association, has reported that in 2012 UK travellers have taken an average of 3.51 holidays in the UK or overseas, a decrease from 3.82 reported in 2011. One in five travellers researched has reported that an overseas holiday is a necessity they cannot do without, while one in ten travellers felt the same about a holiday in the UK.

Around 24 percent of travellers in the age group of 65 years and above have reported that a long holiday in an overseas destination is essential for them.

Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of ABTA, said, ‘It is clear that in the current economic climate, holidaymakers are being cautious about how they spend their holiday budget and the number of holidays that they take in a year. In spite of this, it appears many Brits are determined not to give up their annual holiday.

Many people consider their annual holiday a necessity, not a luxury and given the choice they would rather make sacrifices in other parts of their lives than pass up on their holidays.’

So what makes British travellers prioritise their overseas holidays, even at the cost of curtailing their lifestyle?

Apparently, it is the weather. The dark and wet weather in the UK is one of the main reasons that Brits head for sunnier destinations abroad. The research showed that around one in four respondents have cited the weather as being the main reason they take an overseas holiday every year.

 

British Travellers Pay More to Use Pounds Abroad

British travellers are losing out on monetary transactions when holidaying abroad, due to poor skills in converting currency, according to new research.

Around 15 percent of British holidaymakers are not confident in their currency conversion skills while holidaying abroad, according to the survey of 2,000 British adults, conducted by YouGov, a UK based organisation that canvasses public opinion. The shortcoming is even worse for women, as 20 percent of those surveyed admitted to not having confidence in their maths for currency conversion.

Around 40 percent of British travellers, or 20 million adults, opt to pay for goods in British pounds, using their debit or credit cards, instead of paying in the local currency of foreign countries. This results in them paying over the odds, due to poor exchange rates and credit card charges.

James Hickman, the managing director of Caxton FX, said, ‘The number of people getting caught out by DCC has actually increased in the past year and a lack of understanding about the risk of associated charges seems to be at the heart of this.

An extra 4 percent charge on every transaction could add up to some serious cash over the course of a two week holiday and some rather surprising bank statements upon return to the UK. However, DCC is a perfectly legal charge so it’s up to the individual to make sure they are not being caught out by this.

Using your debit card abroad could expose you to a charge from your bank on every transaction, on top of a less than favourable exchange rate. Additionally, using ATMs at the destination airport or changing money at your resort are some of the worst options for consumers. Usually, the exchange rate will be very poor and each withdrawal can cost upwards of GBP1.50!’

 

British Travellers Shirk Packing Responsibilities

British travellers allow their spouses to do their packing, while others rely on their mothers, according to the results of a recent survey released by Travelodge Hotels, a UK-based company that owns and operates hotel properties worldwide.

Around 20 percent of travellers allow their partners to pack for them, while around 10 percent of those questioned have their mothers pack for them. The study of 5,000 travellers reported that 26 percent of the respondents find packing for a journey stressful, while 21 percent have reported not having enough time to pack for themselves.

A Travelodge spokesperson, Shakila Ahmed, said, ‘We were shocked to find over a quarter of people dodging their own holiday preparation. It’s packing avoidance at its worst!

And we’re not talking about teenagers, 25 to 34 year olds were revealed to be the biggest culprits!’

Males are more likely to ask their spouses to pack for them than vice versa, the report suggested, with around 28 percent more men asking their spouses to pack for them, than women asking their husbands. Around 59 percent of the people surveyed have reported having an argument over packing, and 20 percent have admitted that packing for other family members adds stress to their vacations.

The report also suggested that people from Northern Ireland are the most organised, and that citizens from the East of England are the least organised. Around 21 percent of British travellers create a written list of things to pack, while 19 percent of the respondents simply threw in whatever came to hand without any forethought.

 

British Overseas Travellers Spending Millions on Card Charges

Travellers intending to use their prepaid credit or debit cards while on holiday abroad this summer are being advised to make sure that they understand what charges apply.

Bitish travellers are spending millions on card charges while on holiday, according to a recent study on currency cards.

Around 3,000 British holidaymakers participated in the survey of holiday spending money, and around 50 of the most popular debit, credit and prepaid holiday money cards were analysed as part of the study carried out by Travelex, a foreign currency exchange specialist.

The study has reported that around 77 percent of British holidaymakers that are going abroad for their summer holidays will be using a credit or debit card to finance purchases or withdraw cash. Around 485 of the respondents had answered that they did not decide to take a prepaid card as they were confused about which one to choose.

Travelex has estimated that travellers may have paid an additional GBP100 million in fees and charges by using their credit and debit cards abroad during this summer, as almost all of these card transactions include a currency conversion or load fee.

Financial expert, Andrew Hagger, said, ‘There has been an explosion in the number of prepaid cards in recent years, with different cards for different currencies and a myriad of different companies offering prepaid cards. However, unlike credit or debit cards, there isn’t a uniform way of displaying these cards so holidaymakers are faced with a bewildering array of fees, charges and terminology.’

 

Travellers have new options with additions to World Heritage list

Those travellers that have yet to finalise a destination for their next trip now have a plethora of new sites identified under the World Heritage List.

Travellers can now enjoy visiting 26 new sites that have been added to the list. In Paris, the World Heritage Committee ended its 36th session under the chair of Eleonora Mitrofanova, the Ambassador of Russia to UNESCO. The committee added the 26 new sites at the close of two weeks of deliberations.

The new additions include five natural destinations, twenty cultural destinations and one under the mixed category. With the new additions, the UNESCO’s World Heritage List now has a total of 962 properties. The countries in which these sites are located have now increased to 157 with Chad, Congo, Palau and Palestine the latest to be granted World Heritage sites on their territories.

Another positive development was that the committee removed Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan) and the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

However, five sites were added to the Danger List because of concerns about their conservation. They include Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia (Mali), The Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine), Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama); and Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (UK).

The committee’s next session will be held in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) from 17 to 27 of June 2013.

The new sites are:

Lakes of Ounianga (Chad);

Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo,);

Chengjiang Fossil Site (China);

Western Ghats (India);

Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation).

Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau) was inscribed as a mixed natural and cultural site.

Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy (Bahrain); Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium);

Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea (Brazil);

The Landscape of Grand-Pre (Canada);

Site of Xanadu (China);

Historic Town Grand-Bassam (Cote d’Ivoire);

Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France);

Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany);

Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (Indonesia);

Masjed-e Jame of Isfahan (Islamic Republic of Iran),

Gonbad-e Qabus (Islamic Republic of Iran);

Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel : The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves (Israel);

Archaelogical Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia);

Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage (Morocco);

Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine);

Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal);

Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes (Senegal);

Heritage of Mercury Almaden and Idrija (Slovenia/Spain);

Decorated Farmhouses of Halsingland (Sweden);

Neolithic Site of Catalhoyuk (Turkey).

 

Travellers Advised to Read Car Rental Fine Print

Travellers hiring a car during a vacation are not paying enough attention to the small print, according to online car insurance company, Carhireinsurance.co.uk.

The company has stated that travellers are often ignorant of rules that include paying for replacement costs in case of damage as part of an additional cost, or excess. The excess may range from GBP500 to GBP2000, and is often used to pay for minor damage to the car. It is important for travellers booking car rental to be aware whether they have paid for insurance that also covers the excess.

Ben Simpson, the spokesperson for Car-hire-insurance.co.uk, said, ‘Customers often panic-buy excess insurance policies from the supplier at the pick-up location when they are informed about the potential high costs involved if they damage the vehicle in circumstances not included in their basic policy. This last minute buying means the prices paid at the rental desk aren’t as competitive as buying excess policies online ahead of travelling.

Customers need to be aware that they will be required to leave a deposit to the value of the excess on the hire car when they pick up the vehicle, however, the money customers save as a result of buying an excess insurance policy in advance and the increased cover they get with this policy compared with a rental desk policy makes it a worthwhile product to purchase.

The important point for customers to remember is that if you have already purchased a policy ahead of picking up the vehicle it is not necessary to purchase an additional policy as you will be fully covered for the excess.

We advise all customers hiring a vehicle to shop around for the best possible price for their excess insurance policy prior to going on holiday as this can save you significant amounts of money in both purchasing the policy and in the event that the vehicle is damaged.’

 

Holidaymakers Insist On High Speed Internet Connectivity

Holidays are no longer just made up of sun, sea, and sights, now mobile computer coverage has joined the must have amenities for a good holiday, according to a recent survey.

Travellers are most impressed with the availability of Internet connectivity at their hotels, with 86 percent of the respondents to a survey stating a preference for hotels with wireless connectivity.

Brocade, a company involved in fabric networking, said that European holiday makers are increasingly influenced by the availability of Internet connectivity at their destinations, and they often use it to check mails, make internet calls, or simply browse the net.

Around 95 percent of respondents confessed to taking their mobile devices on vacation, and often using them for work as well as personal use.

John McHugh, the vice president and chief marketing officer at Brocade, said, ‘There is significant blurring between personal time and work time in modern society, with the consumerisation of IT and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) working policies leading many people to rely on smart phones and tablet devices around the clock, wherever they may be and whatever they may be doing.

Our research clearly illustrates that this is causing fundamental changes in working patterns and demands on networking architectures. It used to be that when people went on vacation, that’s what they did. Now it seems that we can never switch off from work, even when we’re at the beach. With this, the demand on service providers and mobile operators to provide ubiquitous, reliable coverage has never been higher.’

 

British Travellers Flocking to Spain This Summer

Large numbers of British travellers are planning summer holidays abroad this year, mostly to Spain’s sunnier destinations, according to a travel research report released by Asda Money, a UK-based financial company that provides travel currency.

Despite the UK government having recently increased its Air passenger duties, much to the dismay of travellers, Spain still remains a favourite travel destination for British holidaymakers.

Spain, which is within easy reach of all UK airports and is served by flights from almost all airlines operating out of Britain, is also known for its warm waters, sandy beaches and good cuisine.

Recently, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, announced an increase in general VAT (Value Added Tax) on all items, including clothing and cigarettes, from 18 percent to 21 percent, in response to the country’s increasing economic problems.

For tourists travelling to the country, this will represent an 8 to 10 percent increase in expenditure on accommodation, food and drink at restaurants, hotels and bars, as well as processed food bought in Spain.

Official records have shown that there has been a significant increase in the number of overseas visitors to Spain in the first five months of 2012, compared to the same period a year ago. Around 19 million foreign holidaymakers visited Spain between January and May 2012, a 2.4 percent increase on the preceding year.

The Spanish Institute of Tourism Studies (Instituto de Estudios Turisticos) has reported that British travellers make around 12 million visits to Spain each year, making it one of the most visited countries by British residents.