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Tech Shock

By: Daniela Pachon

· Study Abroad,Travel Tech,Tech Shock,Duty of Care,Travel Safety

"We are living in a time where tech contributes to the emotional shock we feel abroad."

It’s no secret that technology is simplifying our day-to-day lives. We order food with tech, we get directions with tech, and we even socialize with tech. You could say that we are at a point in time where all of our interactions are being managed by platforms-- and, most of us, wouldn’t have it any other way. That is unless that accessibility is threatened, such as when we travel abroad and suddenly our phones have less than half the utility they do at home.

Every traveler is familiar with culture shock. That feeling you get when you’re visiting a new country or culture and feel out of place. However, this phenomenon has too evolved with the development of technology. We are living in a time where tech contributes to the emotional shock we feel abroad. Although technology helps to facilitate our lives at home, it is important to evaluate culture shock from the perspective of the digital age. It has developed new depth as an issue because of technology’s role in travel. This impact is called tech-shock and it can be better understood in three parts. (Culture and Tech Shock Study)

  • The Technology problem: Everyday we rely more on technology to keep us safe, store our information, and communicate. As platforms like Uber (article1) and Airbnb (article2) increase travel security, users rely more and more on technology for ensuring their safety. Those feelings of heightened security technology creates allows users to travel more passionately and with less stress.

Unfortunately, when we travel abroad, our access to all of those essential features becomes limited. Because of cellular and wireless network issues that the most popular apps need to function, we suffer a technological shock just as we do a cultural one. When our access to technology is threatened, so is our safety.

  • The Tourist problem: Though you may think you blend in well with the local clothes you picked up at the airport, natives know you’re a tourist. It’s a fact that is completely normal, but hard to hide and can put you in danger. You could pick up the local newspaper and pretend you know your way around, but the truth is you likely don’t and, depending on how far you chose to travel, can’t speak the language.

As a result, you will likely pay ‘tourist taxes’ and be the victim of petty crimes like pickpocket or even assault. Technology diminishes this risk because it enables you to know exactly where to go and how to get there.

Technology has enabled us to travel with less stress since we have the added confidence of a mapping app feeding us directions. Through its use unrecognizable phrases can now be translated into simple map pins seamlessly.

  • The Duty of Care Problem: Travel management firms, tour companies, group travel professionals, and other services in the same industry have a certain duty of care (Duty of Care) to give their customers a positive experience and take care of their travelers.

Duty of care, put simply, is a "moral and legal obligation to take a more serious responsibility for the safety of our travelers,"Travel risk management is the course of action to provide that.

In all aspects of travel (airline example1, example2), companies prioritize safety as a primary concern.

We live in a time where people walk around with computers in their pockets. A time where we have the technology to provide travelers with solutions that increase their safety and experiences. Even without offline capabilities, tech has significantly changed what it means to go on any type of trip. The capacity for technology to improve travel safety is endless.

However, the rise of travel tech has not yet reached every aspect of traveling. Although 86% of global travelers rely on their smartphones while abroad, there is a large opportunity for growth during the “in trip” stage. Offline storage, offline communication, offline GPS, and offline SOS are becoming the tech go-tos for travelers. The travel tech space needs to evolve to meet the needs of their customers and become travelers’ safe haven.

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