At the end of every year, We go over the highlights and make resolutions for the one coming up. Travel. Try new things. Travel more. Eat good food. Travel more and more. Be adventurous. But seriously, just travel. Experiment. This year, as the first part of the exercise started off, We began thinking of all the stuff we’d encountered in 2014 and what would make travelling—on business and for pleasure—in the new year more pleasurable.
Here’s an unvarnished, unadulterated list of Our top 10 picks for 2015:
1# Lower air fares. I wish the government would lower all the various extras tacked onto the price of a ticket—the airline fuel surcharge, passenger service fee, user and airport development fees, service tax and CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment) charge. Currently, these levies cumulatively account for 50% of what we pay for a ticket.
2# Express queues at Indian airports for those without baggage to screen.
3# Airlines, if you charge us for excess baggage, reward us for carrying less? A glass (or two) of Champagne, maybe? A simple upgrade would do, too. Heck, I’ll even settle for out-of-queue boarding.
4# More countries to travel to visa-free or with the option of a visa on arrival. Currently, only 50 countries allow us in without having us apply for visas weeks in advance. Sure it’s better than 18, which is the number of countries the Chinese can enter without already having a visa in their passports. But, it’s not even close to the 160 countries Americans can enter without a visa or get visas on arrival in.
5# Bathrooms with opaque walls in business hotels. Sure you want to be friendly with a colleague you’re sharing your hotel room with. But, let's draw a line somewhere, shall we?
6# Enough plug points to connect and charge all the devices we carry.
7# More intuitive room service. If I haven't touched the varieties of tea stocked in the room and repeatedly ask for extra sachets/pods of coffee, then figure it out. Remove the tea, load the coffee!
8# Free and fast in-room Wi-Fi for multiple devices. Chains such as the Radisson Blu have been offering it since 2005. This year, in November, the Taj Group decided to offer free Wi-Fi at all its 125 hotels across the world. Starting January 15, the Marriott group will offer it to all Marriott Rewards members who book through their website. And, in February, Hyatt guests around the world will be able to access free Wi-Fi on “an unlimited number” of devices. About time other chains followed.
9# More guest-friendly technology at hotels. Sure we can control the lights, order room service and ask for concierge assistance using iPads. But, there's a world of new tech to experiment with and improve our stay experience. Robotic butlers, or Botlrs, have begun handling parts of the housekeeping service at Aloft in Cupertino, California. Aloft’s parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, is creating a special app for Google Glass users, which will allow them to search for and book hotels and will give them relevant information about their stay. The Four Seasons group has developed a Pinterest-style itinerary maker, Pin.Pack. The Marriott group is using Snapchat and YouTube stars to create content for its in-house entertainment channels. And, in India, the Lemon Tree Premier in Delhi’s Aerocity district has begun using facial recognition technology to improve security.
10# A suitcase that will track itself and tell us where to find it in the maze of conveyor belts and baggage vans. Oh wait, that wish is already on its way to being fulfilled with Trunkster. A promising start to 2015? I would like to think so.