"Hipster bars in London" is just one embarrassing google search I've found myself typing in a moment of weakness. This example demonstrates the big paradox of our time: we (allegedly) have access to unlimited information, everything we want is out there for us to grab, yet we can only find what we know to look for, and doing that has become a challenging task. This is why we so often find ourselves staring at the cursor in the google search box, thinking of smart search terms that will eventually help us plan an amazing trip, by, amongst other things, avoiding tourist traps and mediocre recommendations.
Educated explorers know they will be overwhelmed by the results if they punch in "restaurants in London" on google or if they turn to crowd sourced travel recommendation sites such as Tripadvisor. Now don't get me wrong, I can't imagine my life Googleless and have used Tripadvisor and other recommendation sites numerous times, but this process leads many times to an unhelpful overload of information and an overwhelming aggregation of recommendations, ratings, opinions and articles that make it almost impossible to differentiate good from bad.
TMI is real - the more information we're exposed to, the stronger our sense of FOMO gets, and thoughts such as "this restaurant seems great but maybe there's a better one two blocks away?" become unavoidable.
Millennials, yes, them again, have become particularly suspicious of the information available online; and it's hard to blame them. Between promoted searches, sponsored articles, fake reviews and ratings, SEO and other tricks marketers use to promote their business, finding trustworthy recommendations that suit you and your taste sometimes feels tantamount to writing a PHD.
Our generation's sensitivity threshold is high, and we are in constant search of unique experiences. In the travel arena, we're less satisfied than former generations with travel packages, all-included cruises and classic sightseeing vacations, and for a population aiming to reinforce its individuality, vacations are one of its moments to shine and generate social currency. Put simply, the services available today don't meet such demands and expectations.
These rather new needs and frustrations are the foundation to what I hope will be the latest disruption in the travel industry - human to human connection is back in the game, baby, and I expect it's here to stay.
The great thing about Millennials is that they don't feel obligated to stay loyal to services that don't provide them with what they need. Every generation is just looking for recommendations and answers from informed people they can trust.
We all know what deep diving into the web means, and would rather avoid it if we can. We're all just looking for someone we trust to cut through the excess and tell us what to do and where to go. If we're really lucky, we will have a friend or family member who lives in our upcoming destination. FOMO fades away if you can let go of your need to search and just trust the guidance of someone who genuinely has the knowledge of the city.
Unfortunately, we don't all have someone in every city and we're required to improvise a solution. Reaching out to friends on Twitter and Facebook - "great restaurants in Rome, anyone?", sourcing recommendations from our Airbnb host, hunt for cool locals on Instagram and amazingly, even turn to flesh and blood travel agents again.
It seems that following the automation and algorithm revolution, we now understand that human curation and personal service have their merits; and this doesn't apply to travel alone. Many new and hyped services combine machine learning, AI and algorithms with one-on-one human service and curation. One of Apple Music's key features, for example, are their human curated playlists.
Our new app, Cool Cousin is an example of a half machine, half human, all curated lovechild of Tinder and Timeout that represents where the travel industry is heading. The app offers a new way to find the guidance you are looking for by hooking travelers up with maps curated by a local of their choice and even encourages them to contact them for a local's advice when needed.
After 20 years of online information surplus, we are at the brink of new and exciting times. We still love what the age of information brought to our lives, we cherish the accessibility and we don't want, not even for a second, to go back to the dark ages of travel when we all had the same Lonely Planet book to guide us around the globe. But we've matured, and although we're still in love with the internet, we're no longer blind to the problems in our relationship. In this new era of travel, it seems like all we need is some good old fashioned human connection.