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Robert Hoagland was reported missing in Newtown, Conn. on July 29, 2013, after he failed to pick up a family member from the airport and did not show up to work, per NBC News. His cars, wallet, cellphone and medication were all found left at his house, and police reported that he was last spotted at a gas station in the town.
The 11th annualTravel Editors RoundtableIt was only a year ago that the dominant topics of conversation in the travel industry were related to the relaxation of travel restrictions to Cuba and the spread of the Zika virus. Although neither has entirely slipped off the radar, when top consumer travel editors gathered in New York last month for Travel Weekly's 11th annual roundtable, other travel opportunities, matters of concern and aspects of the travel experience itself had become top of mind: the intersection of politics and travel; the impact of technology on service; travel agent resiliency; airplane food; the importance of psychographics vs. demographics; tipping anxiety; amenity kits; international gastro-nerds; jet-lag strategies; the possibility of cellphone conversations on airplanes; and new travel trends.There was a bit of self-examination, too, as the editors exchanged thoughts about how, and whether, to use their platforms as pulpits for political commentary.Those participating included Afar editor in chief Julia Cosgrove, New York Times travel section editor Monica Drake, Conde Nast Traveler editor in chief Pilar Guzman, Travel + Leisure editor in chief Nathan Lump, Saveur editor Adam Sachs and National Geographic Traveler editor in chief George Stone. Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann moderated, and the group was hosted at the Gabriel Kreuther restaurant in midtown Manhattan.The original transcript of the discussion has been edited for length, and the chronology has been altered to keep dialogue about specific topics together, though the topic might have recurred in intervals during the course of the conversation.AdvertisementrenderAd('div-gpt-ad-Top');renderAd('div-gpt-ad-mobile-Mobile-Top');Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief, Travel Weekly: Although controversy about the travel ban primarily centers on the inability of citizens from certain countries to enter the U.S., there is some concern over the broader ramifications, particularly as regards the restrictions' impact on inbound travel and America's image abroad. Are you writing about it? What are you saying?Pilar Guzman, editor in chief, Conde Nast Traveler: I'll start. I got a lot of heat for an editor's letter that I wrote about this topic. It was just postelection, and I was in Japan, and I had allowed myself to go on a bit of a social detox program. Then I saw a cartoon of a sputtering, quadruple-chinned [President Donald] Trump in the window of a cartoon artist's shop and it brought me back to reality again. I wrote about that and then about hearing in dribs and drabs about the cabinet nominations. Well, a huge number of my readers were outraged. It went to the tippy top of our organization, and I got my wrists slapped.Adam Sachs, editor, Saveur: Did you meet the man himself [When he was president-elect, Trump met Conde Nast editors.]?
Stone: I think the hotel lobbies without desks, where people magically appear with iPads, are weird. You walk in, and it's bewildering. Someone maybe comes up to you or maybe they don't. If they take your bag, you're not sure if they work there or if they're stealing it. They're kind of wearing a generic uniform, and it's a little too minimalist.Guzman: The Nehru collar is usually a giveaway.Stone: Am I old-fashioned to want a check-in desk at a hotel?Guzman: Yes, you are. And I have wheels on my luggage. I don't need you to walk me upstairs and show me where the TV is. And why is the TV always on? It drives me nuts.Sachs: It's so you can see that they put up your name.Guzman: But they misspelled it.Sachs: I'm very happy not to go to the check-in desk and have that conversation about how my flight was. I'd be happy to take away as many of those steps as possible.The ideal version of travel for me would be that someone would break into my house the night before and chloroform me. I'd be out for the entire process, and I would wake up in a beautiful hotel room. The television would be off.Drake: That's a really interesting tour operator.Weissmann: Unconscious Tours.Sachs: Unconscioustours.com.Guzman: Everything is in the execution. I think that if you have a human who is intuitive, who is reading the room, then the goal is for it to be frictionless, however you get there. If it's technology that allows you to be frictionless in certain cases, as in the case of Uber, that's great.For certain things, like food, you ultimately do want an opinion at the end of the day. You're getting 90% there through the app, but the last 10%, where you're really deciding "Where should I go?" is critical, and you're thinking, "Thank God for humans."Sachs: And with food, we want technology to take us places, to take the friction out of finding places and to help make the decisions, to smooth the transition from home to your destination. And then, when you get there, you want it all cooked caveman-style, as if there's been no advances for 2,000 years. You want everything super simple, cooked over wood, but you want everything that gets you there to be as up to date as possible. It's an interesting little contrast there.Stone: We're taking jets wherever, but when we land someplace and you go to meet weavers in a village, it's a buzzkill when they're on their phone.Weissmann: Or they're weaving wool cellphone cases.Guzman: Or when they have their robot doing the weaving ...Cosgrove: ... and they accept credit cards. But I do think that it's a core value of travel not to permit the technology to intrude on an organic experience, and I think that's valid.Drake: Yes, but I don't think technology is the antithesis of luxury. When I want coffee or to let someone know to pick up my laundry, I don't want to have a conversation about it. But for anything that's almost nurturing, that's when the human connection is much more important. Hospitality has to be intelligent about when guests need people. I don't need someone to greet me at the hotel, but you definitely want somebody at the airport. It's understanding when some human assistance is going to be valued.Cosgrove: And there's other types of technology. I actually think hotel lighting is often so beautifully designed, it's mind-boggling.Lump: The problem a lot of times is turning the lighting off. There's always one lamp that you end up unplugging.Or how many times have you gotten into the shower, you're naked, you're often in a hurry and you're like, "I can't figure out how to work this."? And you just know if you turn the wrong knob you're going to get a dash of cold water.Guzman: I would rather have tipping included in a luxury property. Some do that, but not enough. So, back to the breakfast, where you're standing there in your bathrobe, and you're looking to see whether 18% has been added or not.Weissmann: And whether it's a service charge or a gratuity that's actually going to the person who brought it to you.Guzman: And then you feel like an ass if you don't add more. You should be able to opt in to something that says, "Just put 18[%] to 20% onto whatever I charge, and I don't want to see the bill."Lump: I was reminded of that in Japan recently, because it's not a tipping culture. It's so great.Guzman: It's liberating, yes!Lump: I never have to even think about giving anyone a tip in any scenario anywhere. It's such a dream.Stone: The number is the number.Sachs: It's not actually about giving the tip; it's about getting it wrong, or the anxiety that this isn't the right time to do it, or how do you do it.Guzman: Am I being cheap? Am I overdoing it?Lump: I often don't have the currency.Guzman: "What's your name? I'll come take care of you later."Lump: I was just in Paris, and I didn't go to a cash machine before going to lunch, and I realized it's now customary in a nice restaurant in Paris to leave 10%, and I didn't have it. And you don't put it on the credit card -- that's not done -- so I put down U.S. dollars.Cosgrove: And you were that guy.Lump: And I was that guy. And luckily he was very sweet about it. He was like, "Ooh, I'll save it for my trip to New York."
OK, moving on. Another item was a thermal shirt called Climb SAS that detects your body temperature and turns on and off to keep you warm in cold climates, without having to layer up.Stone: We're not that helpless yet.Sachs: I think wearable technology is great.Guzman: I mean, is it like any other technical fabric? Like skiing in the Northeast?Weissmann: It's not windproof. You'd have to wear a shell to ski.Guzman: Is it ugly?Weissmann: It's got wavy stripes on it.Guzman: Yeah, sounds ugly.Drake: And sometimes I want to be cold. I want to experience things, right? So once in a while I don't layer up enough when I'm skiing. I don't know, I go camping in winter, so maybe I'm weird.Weissmann: How about insoles from Zhor-Tech that you put in your shoes to monitor fitness, rather than wearing a wrist fitness band?Cosgrove: I recently heard wearables are just dying. They buy their Fitbit, they wear it for six weeks, they stop wearing it.Guzman: It's not contributing to any sort of fitness or wellness.Sachs: They buy it, and then they ride their suitcase.Cosgrove: I don't know, perhaps in time. It's like, from the Newton to the iPad.Lump: But with the insoles, if it would be useful information, I like moving from a visible to an invisible solution because I think that we're running the risk, with all of our accouterments, of becoming overloaded with devices. I wouldn't wear a Fitbit because I don't want that on my wrist. I have something called a watch, and I don't want another thing there.Weissmann: And finally, the Zenergy Portable Bluetooth Sound and Light Therapy Speaker, which combines sound and light and a sleep app and alarm to help travelers align their circadian rhythm when crossing time zones.Cosgrove: I mean, if it works for you, great.Lump: I'm sure we've all found our best solutions for adjusting and dealing with jet lag.Weissmann: Well, Monica's interested.Drake: I haven't found a solution. I'm just hopeless for a full day.Stone: Have you ever used No-Jet-Lag? An herbal kind of thing from New Zealand. You crunch into a pill every two hours throughout your journey.Drake: I don't know if it's the flight itself or the jet lag, but I just feel like there's half a day where I'm just not really smart.Lump: My philosophy is to stop worrying and sleep whenever I can. I used to be really obsessed with trying to adjust the clock of where I was going, and now if I can sleep, then I should sleep, because who knows when I'll have that chance next?Cosgrove: Sounds like life with an infant.Weissmann: Moving on to an all-too-familiar technology, there are proposed changes that would allow people to talk on cellphones during a flight. (The proposal to allow cellphone use on planes was withdrawn last week.) Thumbs up or down? 2b1af7f3a8