Suraj Kapoor

Director of Product @WayUp, formerly @Lerer Hippeau. Technologist, Optimistic Contrarian.

Tech Related Thoughts From My Holiday

I travelled to Istanbul a couple of weeks ago on vacation, it was my first time traveling to a city outside of the US or UK in a while (2 years), and it sparked some thoughts around how people used technology on their travels. There is no narrative or cohesion that binds each of these thoughts together except that I thought of them on my travels.

(1) Uber creates a contract based on route as well as price

Istanbul is a beautiful city but an absolute pain to get around by car. The traffic is awful especially during rush hour, and I was warned by several people to beware of taking taxis - they have a habit of taking tourists for a ride in order to rack up their meter. Uber creates an informal contract that the cab driver will take and tracks you against that. It's hard for someone to navigate off of that and take someone for a ride to rack up the meter. There are other mechanisms in place to support this - excellent customer support and ratings but having a map on your phone of where you're going and a blue dot of where you are makes the driver accountable for taking the best route possible.

(2) Free data roaming is a godsend and most mobile carriers still don't get that

Access to information is critical when you are in a foreign country and anything that makes that access easier or cheaper enhances your experience dramatically. That's why hotels (mostly) provide free wifi. T-Mobile don't charge extra for accessing data abroad (well done!) while other carriers still do and this is huge in my opinion. I remember when I was with AT&T and would always fear the bill when after I was traveling. They never understood their customer.

In my opinion what T-Mobile has done is a godsend. Transferring data is cheap and getting cheaper but carriers take advantage of a lack of competition. Carriers still structure their products around "minutes", which is really stupid. No one cares about minutes. Every call I made while traveling was using Whatsapp so it registered as data.

To that point, I'm convinced that a company will provide wifi for free nationally in the US. In fact my money was always on Google to do this but they are rolling out Google Fiber. The data is lucrative and, yup privacy is a concern, I think you can build a good business off of the data you gain and keep in private.

(3) Luxury Hotel will stay but others will struggle

There will always be a market to feel good and be pampered. Someone paying $1000 / night to stay in luxury will not be on AirBnB looking for alternatives. It's not what they want. However, if you're looking for convenience and price, I fear for those hotels, because of a couple of companies - AirBnB and TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor generates pretty exhaustive qualitative and non-qualitative commentary about each hotel - pics, ratings, comments, etc... and it's easy to understand the experience the hotel will provide. Everyone uses it. Hence a hotel that provides value for money (or that perception for it's resident) will survive and others will slowly crumble. Couple this pressure with AirBnB and substitutes for an average hotel room in any city are pretty high.