When Smiling Albino lead their first adventure, the only piece of technology that our guests had in common was a camera. Some of the more tech-savvy or data-driven folks may have brought a GPS unit with them, but each piece was a single-function device. Fast-forward to now and most of our guests carry with them a pocket-sized super computer that can do almost anything you can imagine.
Smartphones have become a central part of life for many – some would say too central. On trains, in elevators, and even walking, people are engrossed in their phones. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in our everyday lives, where most of us have a predictable, set routine, but when you’re on the trip of a lifetime in one of the most dynamic, exotic areas on Earth, when does a smartphone go from “useful tool” to “distracting nuisance”?
Used in moderation, a smartphone can be an unbeatable way to document your trip and provide memories and insight in ways that simply weren’t possible ten years ago. Photos, live video chats, GPS routes and maps are just the start – you can also update a blog, write emails, research sites, and send texts and images to friends and family around the world, among many other things. And of course, catch up on work… but who wants to do that when you’re on vacation?
And then there are digital games. Self-contained amusements like games can easily be ignored until you’re sitting in a car or a train on your way to the next destination, but a new crop of games is changing this dynamic. The most obvious example is PokemonGO, in which the game mechanics change depending on your physical location. That’s undeniably cool, but when you read stories about people getting hurt – or sadly, even killed – because digital games are bleeding into real life, you have to wonder if a line has been crossed.
But we can’t ignore the positive effects technology like smartphones have on trips from a host’s perspective. Trips like the ones Smiling Albino creates are dynamic adventures, and can change or evolve in real time depending on everything from the weather to offering guests maximum flexibility. Our teams are constantly in touch with each other, sending photos, texts, GPS locations, and details that are passed down the line, ensuring our trips run smoothly. But there’s always something new to try out.
Indeed, in the near future Smiling Albino guests will have the option to use their phones in an entirely new way, as we roll out digital itineraries with a company called Tineri. It will allow all the guests on a trip to see what activities are coming up, contact guides, share information, upload photos to their social media accounts, and be kept updated on any alterations or reschedules in the trip. It’s a real game-changer, and will bring another dimension to Smiling Albino trips.
So yes, we may spend too much time on our phones doing fun but ultimately silly things, but Smiling Albino is a proponent of technology enhancing a travel experience. If it’s done smart, it can add an extra dimension of experience to a trip. Just keep in mind that no matter how advanced they get, one phone can’t hold a candle to our five senses.