90 terabytes of facial recognition

China facial recognition

China is building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system with the power to identify any one of its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. The government states the system is being developed for security and official uses such as tracking wanted suspects and public administration and that commercial application using information sourced from the database will not be allowed under current regulations.

“[But] a policy can change due to the development of the economy and increasing demand from society,” said Chen Jiansheng, an associate professor at the department of electrical engineering at Tsinghua University and a member of the ministry’s Committee of Standardisation overseeing technical developments in police forces.

Chinese companies are already taking the commercial application of facial recognition technology to new heights. Students can now enter their university halls, travellers can board planes without using a boarding pass and diners can pay for a meal at KFC. Some other restaurants have even offered discounts to customers based on a machine that ranks their looks according to an algorithm. Customers with “beautiful” characteristics – such as symmetrical features – get better scores than those with noses that are “too big” or “too small” and those that get better scores will get cheaper meals.

More at South China Morning Post and ABS-CBN.

Why It’s Hot
Another weekly installment of balancing convenience and claims of safety with privacy and ethics. China is pushing us faster than most other countries to address this question sooner rather than later.

To Infinity and Beyond with a BFR

Tired of the earth? No worries, Elon Musk hopes to have trips to Mars available by 2024. With SpaceX’s new toy, BFR (which stands for Big F****** Rocket) is supposed to replace the current Falcon’s. The BFR is going to be 347 ft tall, 29 ft wide, and said to have 40 cabins that will store about 2-3 people, meaning there’ll be about 100 people per trip! But BFR isn’t only for trips to Mars or the Moon, Musk says it could also be a great way to travel around the world, shortening all trips to under an hour.

Why It’s Hot:
“It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now” – Elon Musk.

source: http://mashable.com/2017/09/29/elon-musk-mars-bfr/#Za4mL0F0PqqX

Caspar making new comfy sleep stuff, just not for you

Caspar has teamed with American Airlines to design and supply the massive airline with a slew of new sleep products. The 8 new products include “a mattress pad that fits over your seat, a regular pillow and a lumbar pillow, a pillowcase, a duvet, a blanket, pajamas and slippers.”

No, this is not a dream. It’s also not available for coach travelers. The products are solely for business class and first class travelers. You know, the people who need it the most.

You, however, will still be unable to sleep on the red eye on account of the demon toddler kicking your seat from behind during the entire duration of the flight. Happy trails!

Story on TechCrunch

Why it’s Hot

It’s hot for Caspar because it gives them bigger name recognition in the very competitive next-gen mattress space.

Travel and work at the same time? Yes!

Remote Year is a work and travel program that takes people who’re looking for personal and professional growth on a year-long journey to work, travel, and live in 12 different cities throughout the world.

Participants are called “Remotes.” They will live and work in a different city around the globe each month. The program costs $27,000 with a $5,000 down payment followed by a monthly payment of $2,000 for the first 11 months. The costs include co-working spaces, accommodation, transportation, planned events and activities.

Why it’s hot: To millennials, every experience is a self investment. They are willing to invest their money and time into experiences that help them grow.

 

Smart luggage tag to get around in Amsterdam

KLM’s latest creative way to provide something extra for its passengers is a smart luggage tag that helps visitors to Amsterdam to get around the city. The airline’s agency, DDB & Tribal Worldwide Amsterdam, has developed a limited edition audio luggage “Care Tag” consisting of an offline GPS module and a speaker.

KLM aims to share not just the standard tourist tips, but helpful information like pointing out busy intersections with a lot of cyclists, where and how to lock your bike and when you have to watch out for pickpockets. There are also more lighthearted tips such as where to taste local food for free, where to see great street art or where to rent a bike or boat. The Care Tag comes with a USB charger so you can easily recharge it, and the audio works at two different volumes and was tested at many busy and noisy locations.

Why it’s hot
Whether you’re walking or cycling through the city, it offers the right tip at the right location at the right time.

Spotify keeps on rocking with Lastminute.com partnership

There’s always one song that brings back memories of a really great holiday. This intrinsic link between music and travel is the idea behind Lastminute.com’s new partnership with Spotify. And according to data, a large percentage of lastminute.com consumers are also Spotify users, meaning the collaboration appears to be a win-win for both brands.

The partners are producing a series of interactive maps, playlists and podcasts – each one linked to 10 different destinations.

Spotify

Spotify

Each city is broken down by area, with playlists bringing to life the distinct sounds of each one. For instance, East London’s playlist includes songs by local artists like Dizzee Rascal and Katy B. Alongside this, the campaign will include a series of podcasts, each featuring an international artist giving insight into the music scene of their home city. And each user will receive personalized recommendations aligned to their music and travel tastes.

https://econsultancy.com/blog/69032-lastminute-com-partners-with-spotify-to-target-music-loving-travellers/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=econblog

Why It’s Hot
Spotify continues to set the bar for leveraging data in meaningful ways to deepen relationships with customers.

British Airways Is Using Facial Recognition To Make Boarding Faster

The U.K.’s largest airline, British Airways, is making the boarding process a little less tedious by using facial recognition technology at London’s Heathrow Airport.

A biometric device at the airport’s Terminal 5 scans passengers and boarding passes, then a second facial scan at the gate confirms their identity, without having to rustle around in search of any documents.

Three gates have incorporated the system, but the airline is soon planning to expand to 33 more according to Skift. So far it’s only being used in domestic flights.

This new development fits right in with most airports’ current trend of automation. Self-check-in kiosks are in many around the globe, including Heathrow, and new opportunities for technology to take a leading role in airport security are sure to keep on popping up.

Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot:

This just makes a ton of sense as a way to use technology to make people’s lives easier, and potentially safer.

Do As I Do, Not As I Say

Booking.com encouraged its 14,000 global employees to go out and document their carpe diem travel moments. After a years’ worth of documented travel across the globe, their footage was compiled into a video that places their adventurous employees at center stage and showcases their adventures in a manner that inspires wanderlust in all of us.

While this may seem like just another piece of content, it really goes the extra mile for Booking.com as it positions the brand and its staff as travel experts who drink the Kool-Aid they sell.

Why It’s Hot:

  • Adds a human touch to a purely online business, where lack of human interaction makes transactions with the brand feel utilitarian.
  • Makes viewers feel the feels in an authentic manner that inspires people to want to get lost in the world.
  • Strategy is anchored on the insight that people are more likely to trust employee recommendations based on their own experiences with a brand/product.

Rickshaws go Uber, without Uber

Even while Uber has, for the time being, backed out of on-demand rickshaws, New Delhi-based startup Jugnoo confirmed this week that it is closed another round of fundraising to continue to help make India’s ubiquitous auto-rickshaw drivers more efficient while also meeting consumer transportation demands. The service launched in November 2014 and is currently operating in 22 cities and claims 2 million users, around 6,000 drivers and about 30,000 rides per day. The co-founder and CEO of Jugnoo, Samar Singla, told TechCrunch in an interview that he started the service when he realized that auto-rickshaw drivers are just 30 percent utilized. The goal is to drive utilization up to 60 percent.

Top priority for this year is to expand Jugnoo’s presence into an additional 25 cities in India, most of which will be second-tier. untitled

Why It’s Hot

Uber failed at their initial attempt to enter the auto-rickshaw market with UberAUTO. They were unable to localize to the Indian market. India is Uber’s second largest market outside of the US, but it faces significant pressures from rivals such as Ola and Jugnoo.

 

BlaBlaCar’s Chattiness Index

Paris-based BlaBlaCar is a popular car-sharing service in Europe, but not well known or established elsewhere. What makes them interesting is that during sign-up they have a “chattiness” index that asks the user how chatty they are in a car. They are either “blah,” “blah blah,” or “blah, blah, blah.” They can also select their fellow riders based on whether they smoke or what music they listen to. What is interesting and ironic in many ways is that the backlash to “Uber” in France has been tremendous. Unlike Uber, BlaBlaCar does not have contract workers or employed drivers, but is more a carpooling app. Drivers simply charge their fellow riders a small fee for gas and drop them off along the way to their final destination. And because it is more ridesharing that a car service, it does not have to deal with the regulatory hurdles that have challenged Uber in Europe. The company is valued at $1.6B, making it the only startup in France estimated at more than $1B.

Why It’s Hot

While Uber and other services may not be able to gain an enduring foothold in Europe, home-made solutions such as BlaBlaCar may be successful. It shows the universal need to find alternate solutions from getting from point A to point B.

 

Plug Your Headphones into a Billboard and Be Transported to Paris

sounds-of-the-city-thalys-billboard-psfk-964x644A French train company is using the power of audio to entice people to travel to its main destinations. Thalys paired up with French Agency Rosaparks to create Sounds of the City, a set of interactive billboards that lets passerby plug in their personal headphones and listen to the sounds of Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

People travel to experience culture and learn the stories of people, and sound does an excellent job of conveying the message. So the Rosaparks team set out to each of the cities, collecting more than 1,000 different sounds from each place. Sounds of food, the market place, skateparks, and even from history archives were recorded and then implanted within the billboards. The result was essentially an audio database of urban life.

The billboards were then outfitted to be a map of each city, with audio jacks placed in different areas and neighborhoods. Each jack holds a different sound, and passersby can insert their headphones into whichever one to experience a different time and place.

Eighty-three percent of all advertising we’re exposed to focuses on sight, but sound goes underutilized as an effective marketing tool. Sounds of the City pulls audiences in, using a unique sensory approach to attract audiences.

Studies show that audio influences how people experience their environments, and brands are experimenting and using this understanding to alter the consumer experience. Headphones create immersive experiences—distractions are muted and brands can take center stage. With these billboards, passersby can almost instantaneously experience the wonder of travel. But to use their other senses, they they need to then get on a train and physically experience the cities.

sounds-of-the-city-amsterdam-psfk-964x644Source: PSFK

Why It’s Hot

We’ve seen a few cool billboards and OOH advertising lately — from soda and beer dispensers to digital coordination with moving trains. Using audio is an interesting approach that we haven’t seen yet, that picks up on insights about travel and encourages passerbys to actually engage.

#TravelforReal with Loews Hotels

Typically hotels promote themselves in a fashion that can only be displayed to make you want to stay there through beautiful, high-resolution images. However, Loews Hotels is taking a different approach in their “Travel for Real” campaign.

The brand used social media to foster this idea. They took to Instagram to see what types of content their guests posts and when they discovered their photos, it sparked an idea. Their new campaign will promote guest photos as opposed to those over photo-shopped images guests are used to seeing.

What they found is that guests are more connected to the brand through this campaign and are more willing to use their branded hashtag. It also entices users to want to post their images along with the hashtags because let’s face it, every guests photo wants to be an ad for Loews Hotels.

Now when gets stay at a Loews, they won’t be let down because they will know that what they see is what they will get.

Read more: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/these-luxury-hotel-ads-use-instagram-shots-instead-professional-photos-165569

Why It’s Hot

Brands are understanding the benefit in promoting user generated content. This is just a prime example of how a hotel brand can diversify itself and become more relatable for their audience.

From Grocery List to Packing List: How One Airline Got Consumers to Buy Their Holiday Ticket from a Snack Bag

In a clever creative stunt to distinguish itself from other airlines (who typically rely on online bookings), Transavia decided to take the process of ordering tickets offline and into the aisles of grocery stores and vending machines.

The tickets come in three varieties: gummy bears, potato chips, and cereal bars, each corresponding to one of three destinations – a bag of gummy bears will take you to Lisbon, potato chips will fly you to Barcelona, and the cereal bar can whisk you away to Dublin.

With the purchase of any of these snacks, a quick scan of the QR code to take you to the booking page, and a special discount voucher on the inside of the packaging, it aims to portray the idea that Transavia’s plane tickets are so cheap (and easy to book!), it’s like buying a bag of snacks.

Why It’s Hot:

There seems to be a clutter of different budget airlines all competing to get travelers to use them. This may especially be true in Europe, where there are airlines like RyanAir that may feel like a bus in the sky but can fly across Europe in (sometimes) under 100 Euros. This campaign is a perfect way to disrupt that sea of sameness in airline marketing techniques. By venturing out into a territory that has never been advertised on, it creates a very surprising and innovative idea to bring this brand into the minds of consumers when they are least expecting it – in the grocery store, while conducting an average everyday task.

The best part is that most airplane tickets are booked by consumers actively seeking out the discounts, whether through codes that they find online or deals through emails, but this campaign flips that old traditional way of thinking completely on its side. It offers a new way to convince someone, who may have not even been thinking of traveling, to indulge on a new adventure somewhere for very cheap.

Read more here.

 

Jets on the Fly

On-demand private jet charter company Blue Star Jets has launched a mobile application to offer on-the-spot bookings with access to and from any airport in the world.

The company claims to have the first-ever global private jet app and to be a pioneer in offering 24/7 customer service providing follow-up confirmation within 15 minutes of booking so travelers can be in the air with as little as four hours notice. Blue Star Jets anticipates business to double as a result of launching the app.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 9.34.32 AM

The app enables users to search a favorite location or any global destination for round-trip, one-way and multi-leg flights. Users can access a full list of all available empty leg flights, which are either flying to or from their point of origin empty to pick up other charter clients.

Flyers can choose from a variety of options, including helicopters, turbo props, any corporate jet, an air ambulance, a cargo jet and a jumbo jet.

Read more here.

WHY IT IS HOT

An Uber-like approach to jetting – really? Just because it woks for daily commute, does not mean that the same exact business model can be translated into other categories (or, perhaps, I am simply not their target audience!). Still, great to see how different categories are trying to innovate and push the boundaries of the unthinkable.

The Human Charger May Stop Jet Lag in Its Tracks

human7The Finnish startup Valkee, which has previously released products for treating seasonal affective disorder has launched the Human Charger as its latest gadget for combating the effects of jet lag in travelers.

According to a recently released study, the bright light-emitting headset—which users can now coordinate with other aspects of their pre- and post-travel routines via a new app—has shown significant effectiveness in supporting a traveler’s overall recovery from jet lag in the days following travel.

The Human Charger (called Valkee II at the time) has since been made available to Finnair’s flight crews, while Singapore Airlines, KLM, and Iberia planes have also begun stocking the headsets for their own long-haul passengers.

human8

 

Source: PSFK

 

Why It’s Hot

Though the jury is out on how well this actually works, I think it’s interesting to see the trend of technology solving problems that have existed for ages — particularly improving the travel experience, which can be frustrating and disruptive. I look forward to seeing how the studies pan out on the effectiveness of this product, as well as other travel solutions that may come up.

Marriott celebrates 1M mobile check-ins as smartphones transform experience

marriott

Mobile is transforming the hotel check-in experience, with 1 million Marriott International customers having checked in to their rooms on their mobile devices since the option was introduced nearly two years ago. Marriott International is celebrating the accomplishment with a sweepstakes giving Marriott Rewards members who use mobile check-in a chance to win millions of rewards points. The Marriott Mobile App enables guests to check-in after 4 pm the day before their arrival and receive an automatic notification when their room is ready.

Why It’s Hot

Less than two years old, over a million travelers have embraced mobile check-ins. It’s ease and convenience is transforming the check-in and overall guest experience. Other hotel chains are now offering this service too, including La Quinta and Hilton in addition to Marriott.
Marriott continues to build on the strategy, having recently announced that guests will be able to use the Apple Watch to check-in before their stay, receive alerts when their room is ready and checkout.

New Japanese hotel to be staffed by robots

In a sign of the times, Japan is slated to open the world’s first hotel staffed almost entirely by robots and controlled by the latest in computer technology, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

The Henn-na Hotel, or “Strange Hotel,” will open its doors on July 17 on the grounds of Huis Ten Bosch theme park near Nagasaki, according to an announcement from JNTO on Jan. 28.

The hotel will initially be staffed by 10 robots working alongside humans to provide a wide range of services from manning the reception desk to carrying bags and cleaning rooms. The management hopes to eventually have the hotel almost entirely staffed by the machines.

“In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots,” said Huis Ten Bosch president Hideo Sawada. In addition to the robots, Sawada says the 72-room facility will feature high-tech gadgetry aimed at making Henn-na the “most efficient hotel in the world,” The Japan Times reported.

Instead of traditional air conditioning, for example, rooms will feature radiation panels that create a “comfortable indoor environment with no unevenness,” the hotel website added. The panels will automatically detect body heat and adjust room temperature as needed.

Hotel guests will also be able to access their rooms using facial recognition technology instead of room keys. Anyone uncomfortable with the system will be free to use old-fashioned keys, the hotel’s website said. The hotel promises constant innovations as technology advances. Henn-na Hotel has tentatively priced single and twin rooms at about $60 and $75 per night, respectively.Sawada told Japan’s Nikkei news website that he plans to take the business model global, opening 1,000 similar hotels around the world.

Why it’s hot:

While there are clearly benefits of robot hotels – robots replacing human employees should help keep labor costs at a minimum, which means cheaper rates for customers.  However, In the US, Starwood’s Aloft brand recently announced that it was testing the chain’s first robo-butler, named ALO. Would these robot hotels redefine the “economy” hotel class.

Kyrzbekistan, the Hottest New Tourist Destination in the World (Wide Web)

Everyone makes mistakes, including credible news sources like The New York Times. The newspaper recently published an article about a climber who escaped captivity in Asia by throwing an armed militant off a cliff. It’s a fascinating story, but you won’t find the place where the article says the incident took place on any map. Kyrzbekistan, perhaps a mistaken mash-up of central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, is not a real country.

kyrz

Naturally, the Internet responded almost immediately. Read more on the reaction to Kyrzbekistan via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: No one can make a single error online without the world noticing. Mistakes quickly go viral, sometimes at the cost of a brand’s image, with the brand left to pick up the pieces. In this case, parts of the Internet are responding relatively well. While senior editors at the New York Times are undoubtedly kicking themselves, the accidentally-created country of Kyrzbekistan now has its own Twitter feed and a lighthearted, seemingly harmless following.

It’s interesting to note not just how fast the Internet reacts to things like this, but that they stay relevant for a little while – even if just to bored millennials – before fading out. With Kyrzbekistan’s statehood, it took one day for someone with perhaps too much time on their hands to create (and still maintain) a Twitter handle. Since then, tweets have continued to pour in.

The buzz is surely driving traffic to the original article; I wouldn’t have read the piece if it hadn’t been for the error. And the tourism industry of Kyrzbekistan – I mean Kyrgyzstan – is probably mindful of the publicity.

For Sale: Vintage Boeing Airplane Parts

It’s the perfect gift for the one on your list who truly loves to travel: An airplane! Well, at least part of one.

Taking off just in time for the holidays, Boeing has launched a Custom Hangar store full of limited edition items including everything from home decor and furniture to apparel. Vintage airplane parts such as an authentic 747 jet window picture frame and a high-top table made from the real engine of a 737 are being diverted to your home.

Be it a couch of business class seats, a coffee table or a beverage cart, Boeing is arriving in consumers’ living rooms. Talk about a conversation piece.

Via Adweek.

Why It’s Hot: Boeing isn’t itself an airline or a traditional consumer brand — most of us probably don’t have a few hundred million dollars lying around to purchase aircrafts — but their sale of merchandise is getting consumers’ wheels spinning. As opposed to typical furniture retailers, Boeing’s products are a part of history. They even have fans; that is, they have spinning blades and people that are fond of them, and willing to spend money on memorabilia.

For a brand usually reserved for long-distance travel and faraway trips (via airplane), it doesn’t get much more personal than landing inside the home. Brands already vie for ad space in our hands, on our screens and outside our homes, so perhaps it won’t be long before more conventionally out-of-home, outdoor brands move inside to serve real purposes as household items.

DELTA TAPS SEVEN MORE CRAFT BREWS FOR IN-FLIGHT OFFERING

Delta Airlines will start serving brews from seven craft breweries on its flights. On certain routes, passengers will be able to drink beers from San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing Company, Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company, Brooklyn’s Brooklyn Brewery, California’s Lagunitas Brewing Company and Stone Brewing Company, Massachusetts’ Newburyport Brewing Company, and Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewery. Plus, all domestic routes will also serve beer from Samuel Adams.

This year, Delta has taken steps to improve its food selection as well: Besides serving the airlines’ addictive spiced, speculoos-style cookies, the company has partnered with chef Linton Hopkins to design an in-flight menu featuring upscale eats.

Delta Air Lines Regional Craft BeersSources: Eater, Delta Press Release

Why It’s Hot

It’s interesting to see how the airline industry is evolving to changing tastes. We saw British Airways matching in-flight food to music tastes recently. It’s also interesting to see the power that beer tastes in particular are driving a change in the beverage landscape. We’ve seen brewers, such as Shocktop, start to adjust to preferences for craft beer as well.

It does make one wonder if airlines are prioritizing catchy perks over major improvements to comfort.

 

 

 

Win an #EpicFood Tour from Turkish Airlines

Those filtered photos of your exquisite travel meals are no longer just for Instagram. Turkish Airlines wants to see them in a new Epic Food Map contest launched this week in support of the airline’s latest television commercial. The lucky photographer of the most mouth-watering #EpicFood, chosen by soccer stars (the stars of the ad) Didier Drogba and Leo Messi, will win a trip to five international destinations showcased in the spot.

turkishairlines

Read more about the campaign surrounding the contest via AgencySpy.

Why It’s Hot: There’s nothing quite as appealing and engaging as the prospect of an international food tour. Turkey, specifically the intercontinental metropolis of Istanbul, is often referred to as the crossroads of Europe and Asia; the TV spot even asserts that “We fly to more flavours than any other airline.” While it’s not unusual for airlines to promote their diverse register of destinations, Turkish Airlines uses this fact to engage customers and generate social buzz – because who wouldn’t want to travel the world eating delicious, exotic foods?

We have seen lately the emerging trend of airlines embracing just how boring flying can be, but Turkish Airlines instead keeps the traditional focus of the destination. Not even mentioning the journey, the airline shows that travel is all about the food to be enjoyed upon arrival, and offers customers a way to participate in the fun.

As we have discussed previouslycrowdsourcing for content helps brands to build awareness and loyalty, and while traveling across the world may not be something we all have in common, food certainly is.

Delta Hops on the Boring Airline Bandwagon

Last month, Virgin America tried getting people excited about their brand by showcasing just how boring flying can actually be. Now, Delta Airlines is joining the trend with their purposely super-boring game Cloudgazer. In an effort to showcase Delta Studio – their new in-flight entertainment options – Delta had this boring game created to award someone with (wait for it) the most unboring flight (which in actuality is just a free roundtrip flight of the winner’s choice).

PR_LandingPage

The way the game works is users gaze at clouds (on their computer screen because, well, going outdoors? Ew?!) and the person who clicks on the most clouds before the close of the contest wins the flight. Read more about this scintillating game on Digiday.

Why It’s Hot | Missing the connection here? You’re not alone. To remind the lucky window seat-holders just how boring it is when an airline doesn’t have in-flight entertainment, Delta made a game. It’s a little silly, but this emerging trend of airlines embracing how boring flying can actually be is quite humorous. What opportunities are there for brands in other industries to embrace their failing customer experiences?

Virgin America’s New Video Asks: If You Can’t Watch the Film, Why Do This in Real Life?

Virgin America has released a new online campaign centering around a six-hour pre-roll video. No, that wasn’t a typo. It wasn’t supposed to say “six-minute.” That’s six hours.

The six hour video is meant to depict – in “real time” – the experience of flying on a typical competitor airline for a 5 hour and 45 minute flight from Newark to San Francisco. Here, that airline is called BLAH Airlines (a fake airline with a real website!), but we can all imagine at least one or two actual airlines they’re referring to. The seats are cramped, the lighting is harsh, there’s no great entertainment, and no real food.

Read more on Adweek.

Why It’s Hot | Many of our clients fear being ‘too negative’ or focusing too much on their competition. Virgin takes an interesting approach to avoiding both of things, by still actually doing them. The “real time” look into a BLAH Airlines experience doesn’t actually talk badly about Virgin competitors, but the message is obvious enough to anyone who has flied recently.

It’s also interesting because here, they’re using a typically short and easily-digestible channel (YouTube video, pre-roll specifically), in a completely new (and quite frankly, bonkers) way. But the ridiculous and “ineffective” use of the short-form video placement actually hammers home the message it’s meant to –  “Just trying to watch the video is downright painful—and that’s the point. If you wouldn’t sit through the entire film, why would you pay money to experience it in real life?”

Hotel Deals for Social Media Influencers Only

Forget about spending hours on travel deal sites searching for the best bargain. Now all you have to do to get a great hotel rate is up your social media friend count.

New travel site Hotelied rewards visitors with discounts on hotels based on the amount of followers they have on social media. It prioritizes servicing those with a lot of social media clout in hopes that those influencers will share “free publicity” – details about their positive experiences traveling with their vast networks. According to Telegraph,

The website explains: “Based on its specific business needs, a hotel may be targeting small groups, guests who work in specific industries such as fashion, entertainment, business, or education, frequent travellers, loyal travellers, and more. In addition, a hotel may want to increase their social media interaction with guests, thus searching for guests with high social influence and a strong digital following.”

Currently Hotelied only has hotels in 5 cities: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland, and Tel Aviv, and offers deals of up to 50% on hotel rooms. A tester found that the hotel themselves were not offering such steep discounts.

Capture

Read more details on Telegraph.

Why It’s Hot | The concept of “free publicity” via social media is nothing new and exciting, with brands constantly using the platforms for awareness campaigns, contests, coupons, and limited offers tied to sharing. That being said, it is interesting to see a standalone website that offers discounts solely based on one’s social media presence. It’s also quite refreshing to see something relying on social media influence without following the overdone Klout / Kred model. This discount/experience-based-on-following concept is sure to expand in the future with other platforms.

KLM Warms 9 Million Hearts with Beagle Who Returns Lost Items

Traveling is stressful, but there’s nothing like losing something on the plane to really put a damper on the mood. Dutch airline KLM wants to relieve that stress, showing that they will go to great lengths to reunite passengers with lost belongings – even so far as to train a puppy to track down the lost article’s owner in the airport, by following the owner’s scent left on the item.

It’s not real, but rather a heartwarming public relations display of KLM’s dedication to reuniting passengers with any lost items.

Read more via AdWeek.

Why It’s Hot: Animals are effective! As we saw last week with Budweiser’s Don’t Drink and Drive PSA, there’s nothing like a cute puppy to warm even the coldest heart, and this helps get the brand’s message across in a positive, memorable way. In this case, KLM wants travelers to know that if they do accidentally leave something behind on the plane, they’ll get it back.

As a dog lover myself, I definitely see the effectiveness of using animals in TV spots to help sell a service like the Dutch airline. It might be far-fetched, but there’s no fighting the smile that comes from seeing a cute animal.

3D Printing & Travel

For travellers, the process seems particularly convenient. Why lug around an entire suitcase of items, for example, when you could simply print out what you need once you’ve arrived at your destination?

That was the thinking of Janne Kyttanen, the Finnish artist who designed the entire outfit, down to shoes and bag – all produced via 3D printer – that was shown in an exhibit called “Lost Luggage” in Rotterdam’s Galerie VIVID this spring. “If you feel like going to Paris, then you just leave and go. You don’t have to go home and think of what you’re going to pack,” he said. “It’s like a futuristic dream world.”

“It’s not as simple as pressing a button and getting a product,” said Phil Reeves, managing director of 3D printing consultancy Econolyst. “It is just another manufacturing technology, that’s all. Yes, it’s quite clever, and yes, it’s quite flexible, but it doesn’t materialise things out of nowhere.” With traditional manufacturing methods remaining inexpensive, he pointed out, you might as well simply board that flight to Paris without your luggage – and just buy all of your items on the cheap when you arrived.

luggage outfit

Why It’t Hot:

We all know that 3-D printing is going to be the next commodity technology for the world, and we are now seeing even more ways to use it. This is particularly interesting because it is not just being used to create a product that can be sold, or be a modern upgrade of a system of manufacturing, but how it can become a consumer facing aspect of a common process.

Move Over, Foursquare: Google Has The Answers

While apps like Foursquare offer recommendations on popular eateries and attractions based on the user’s location, Google takes this a step further and shows that perhaps it really does have all of life’s answers.

Google is rolling out a new ‘Explore’ button on its Google Maps mobile app starting this week that will offer suggestions for where users should – and shouldn’t – go. When users want to discover their surrounding area, they can simply tap the new button at the bottom righthand corner of the app to get a glimpse of what’s around them. The results list is based on context, changing according to the time of day and weather – so there’s no more worrying about rain on your parade picnic in the park or showing up to a dinner restaurant in the morning with a craving for pancakes.

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As usual when our technology offers us suggestions, Google makes sure to mention that users will get the best results when they sign in with location reporting and history turned on. The more information you provide, the better your experience will be.

Via NBC News

Why It’s Hot: Tech innovations frequently help make our lives easier, and the new Explore feature from Google Maps is no exception. Users no longer have to independently research an establishment’s business hours or navigate to the hourly weather forecast – now search results for “good place to eat” while exploring a new vacation spot will be filtered, and users will only see relevant, weather- and time-appropriate results. With technology constantly improving, surely it won’t be long before we have this feature on more location-based apps.

New App “Yeti” Tinder For Places

The new app Yeti helps you discover what’s happening nearby and chat with others on topic you care about. Members in more than 120 countries and 3,500 cities use Yeti to connect with other locals, get great recommendations, and discuss what matters to them.The user-interface is very similar to Tinder. By using the swiping system, the forum is self-monitoring: If users repeatedly swipe left on a topic, that topic will stop coming up. If users’ swipes are similar to another user’s, Yeti will make more of the topics that user joins appear. The app is particularly popular among travelers, who’d rather use Yeti than drain phone battery on Yelp or Google Maps.

Yetti: Tinder For Places

Why It’s Hot? Tinder’s likeable swipe interface could spread to other apps. This app could displace Yelp and Google Map’s market share.

British Airways Draws Attention Away From their Billboards and Into the Sky

British Airways ‘Magic’ Billboards has recently won some awards, and it’s clear why.It’s  informative, intriguing, and well executed! According to Ad Age, these digital billboards are located throughout London, and serve to highlight the company’s various destinations by encouraging passers to look up into the sky, to spot the airplane passing over.

Watch it here!

Why it’s hot | The idea behind the campaign is quite simple, but because of the technological complexity and accuracy, it’s pretty brilliant. It involves mounting an antennae on the roof of each board, which picks up data from British Airways aircraft transponders. This information is then sent to a server which detects the aircrafts origin or destination. A trigger zone was also included, providing accuracy of the aircraft passing, based on cloud altitude which showed whether the plane could actually be seen.

For a campaign which serves the purpose of drawing potential customers to their website, the agency behind the idea (Ogilvy) did a pretty good job of making it enjoyable. The only call to action in the advertisement includes the hashtag #LookUp, as well as the html, ‘ba.com/lookup’ which drives the user to a website listing of the companies cheapest flights. Well done!