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Travel & Tourism

Why are there still paper guidebooks

By William Bakker | 10.19.06 | 2 Comments

Joel came back from vacation and made the observation that every tourist he saw is carrying around a guide. A Lonely Planet of some sorts. And not just backpackers, but everybody. I’ve observed the same in my travels and I do the same thing. The reality is that the far majority of travel decisions are made in the moment. It’s raining, let’s go to a museum, where is my Lonely Planet? I’m hungry, I’m in a strange city, let’s ask somebody where we can get some decent vegetarian food. You can plan a lot online before you go, but in reality you don’t even scratch the surface of the decisions that still have to be made. That’s part of the fun of traveling.

The perception that technology changes the basic tasks people need to complete is rarely true. Only the tools change. And in the case of travel, it’s the way people access information. The first revolution was during the pre-trip planning phase. Travel agent offices are out, booking online is in. Libraries, calling 1-800 numbers and picking up brochures are out, the internet is in. Asking your neighbour about his vacation is out, tripadvisor is in. With the internet also came an access of information, creating a better informed traveler, feeling more confident to travel independent and make her own travel arrangements.

The next revolution will be during the holiday experience. Information on the internet is becoming accessible anytime, any place, anywhere to everybody through mobile devices. No more Lonely Planet, no more brochure racks, no more asking the concierge or a cab driver. I’m finally be able to find a decent vegetarian restaurant.

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