Did you know that American Express originated with the Pony Express? I wonder if the riders of that famous route could even imagine how much travel has evolved today. Even I can see a difference. When I took my first trip to Guam in 1992, there weren’t Internet cafés or cell phones. I was on the other side of the world and very far from home. When I phoned home to talk to Dave, I had to walk a mile to a post office where I stood in line waiting for a private phone booth to be connected to an international operator. I crossed my fingers that Dave would pick up and when he did, I barely heard a word he said.
Early Days of Travel
During the early days of travel in Kenya, people left notes on a thorn tree asking travellers to pass messages along or bring notes home with them. It was a lot tougher to stay in touch then. When you went travelling, your family wasn't sure if they'd ever hear from you again.
We've Come a Long Way Baby!
It's hard to believe American Express is celebrating 100 years of travel service. Back then it seemed like travel was only for the truly adventurous. Not many people were traveling for pleasure compared to today's standards, but Amex has been there for travellers before it was popular.
They’ve been helping Cardmembers realize their travel dreams for decades providing end-to-end services from booking, to the airport to wherever in the world they touchdown.
Remember the days of traveller’s cheques? We would never leave home without them. Our American Express traveller’s cheques gave us peace of mind. Traveller’s cheques may have gone the way of the Dodo, but the great service continues.
Travel Trends of the Future
Having just returned from the ultra modern city of Dubai, Dave and I have been thinking a lot about the future of travel and what travel trends are ahead. That city is as futuristic as it gets and has given us plenty of ideas of where the world is going. After looking back at the past, let’s look at the future of travel.
Ever since we took part in the Mongol Rally, we think that mega malls will be the future of travel. In Astana, the Capital of Kazakhstan, there is a giant mall that looks like a spaceship. The Kazakhstan malls has midways, skating rinks, arcades, and movie theatres and today it's not uncommon for many malls in Asia and the Middle East to have these amenities. Dubai takes the cake for the most amazing malls. The Dubai Mall has an enormous aquarium where people can scuba dive with sharks, cage dive with great white sharks, and walk under a glass tube to see all the marine life on display and the Mall of the Emirates has an indoor ski hill complete with snowboard park.
With luxury hotels attached to the malls that continue to get bigger and bigger, people will be booking their vacations around the mega mall. There’s something for everyone. Mom and dad can go to the spa followed by a romantic dinner while the kids go skiing, and can catch a movie. Sounds nice, right?
You think we're connected now, wait until the future takes hold. With Periscope and Snapchat taking over the bandwidth, more and more people will be sharing every single moment of their travel experience with others. Attractions, restaurants, and hotels will be completely connected and you'll be able to check your smart watch or smart phone to find out about daily specials and instant deals.
You won't even have to do a Google search anymore. If you are downtown Toronto and you have your latest travel app set to “tell me what's up” you may get information telling you the times that the Hockey Hall of Fame closes, how much it costs to go up the CN Tower, where the best place around you is to eat, and how long the queue is for the latest Star Wars movie.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, people will need a break. People have talked about the digital detox for some time now, but I really believe it is going to come to life soon. We are all overloaded with noise and social media and people need a break from their smart phones and computer screens. Computer neck syndrome is a very real and true ailment.
I have a feeling cameras and photography equipment won't even be allowed on a digital detox vacation. What would people do if they couldn't document every single moment of their lives? The technical intervention vacation will find out.
Luxury Travel will Explode
It seems that the days of the broke backpacker is disappearing. When we first started travelling, Dave and I could get a basic beach bungalow for $5 a night. It was a no frills room with nothing but a bed and a squat toilet bathroom, but it was cheap and it was all we needed. It seems that people aren't willing to rough it anymore, even the twenty something’s want luxury.
I admit, we don't want to stay in basic accommodations anymore either. Dave and I now require a more lavish set up. We don't want to rough it anymore and it seems that millennials don't want to rough it either. The world is turning to luxury and premium experiences.
Rewards and Loyalty Programs Continue to Grow.
Luckily, there are rewards programs out there offering deals on luxury accommodation and premium experiences. As people become savvy travellers, they will look for ways to stretch their dollars for the best deals and discounts. They'll remain loyal and true to one program to reach optimal benefits and shop smart for their next vacation. Our American Express Platinum Card gives us luxury perks like elite tier status at hotel programs and Front Of The Line for events. When travelling, we breeze through security, take advantage of free WiFi and have access to free valet service at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
We have access to more than 850 airport lounges around the world offering us Platinum travel experiences wherever we go. We might not be a celebrity, but we often travel like a star by using our Membership Rewards and Platinum benefits.
The Future of Travel
I think travel will constantly evolve and change in the years to come. It's fun to try to predict the future, but who knows if we are accurate or not. A lot has changed in 100 years, it's hard to imagine what will happen in the next centure. It doesn't matter though, because the world is travelling. More people than ever are crossing continents and exploring the globe and they are looking to programs to help them travel more. We use American Express to help us reach our travel goals. What do you use?
To learn more about the breadth of Amex’s travel offerings and the benefits offered by being an Amex Cardmember visit americanexpress.ca/potential