Travel Tech Q&A: Hotels.com's Johan Svanstrom
Johan Svanstrom, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific, for Hotels.com, dislikes waiting in long lines, and has devised a way around it at airports. Read this week's Travel Tech Q&A to find out Svanstrom's sneaky tip.
Could you tell us a bit about Hotels.com?
Hotels.com is one of the world's leading online hotel-booking services online. With close to 85 sites around the globe and 149,000 hotels for sale, its reach is unsurpassed, and serves millions of satisfied customers every year. Hotels.com also has a unique loyalty program called Welcome Rewards, which gives you travellers one free night after 10 booked nights.
What tech do you travel with and why?
My BlackBerry, my MacBook Air and my Sony headphones. They're all just very handy to have in this job.
What's your favourite phone app for travelling and why?
I'll be boring, but when I travel I go nostalgic and grab something made out of paper.
What is your most memorable travel story/experience?
Hitch-hiking with a UN helicopter out of the small town of Ismail in Ukraine. I'll leave the reasons untold.
Personal travel advice or tip?
Arrive controllably late to the airport, so you can excuse yourself past any really long lines.
What (if any) travel websites do you use?
By law of big numbers, TripAdvisor provides a comprehensive view of customer satisfaction levels around the globe for a huge range of hotels. Whether you're going for business for two days or with family for seven days, you can find relevant commentary from fellow travellers.
Very quick, and provides a wide range of possible flight connections — more than any single online air-ticketing site out there.
I might be slightly biased, but Hotels.com really is a great hotel-booking site. It supports all large mobile platforms, has lots of special deals all the time, and allows travellers to take advantage of a generous and easy loyalty program.
What was your biggest travel disaster?
3.5 days of pouring rain on a four-day-long weekend break to Cebu, Philippines. My table tennis game improved a lot.
What is the best airport you've visited and why?
Hong Kong — speed, as well as the very efficient and friendly staff.
What is your dream travel tech to have on planes/in airports/at hotels? (Stuff they don't have yet, but boy it would make life so much easier on the road.)
A "super one-shot scanning zone" once you enter the airport. It would automatically detect your passport, check you in, tag your bags electronically and pass you through security. No more waiting in lines — ever.