Tweeters talk innovation in travel during TW Chats session

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Innovation in travel was the focus of the September TW Chats on Twitter.

And it was clear from the hourlong chat on Sept. 18 that innovation can take many forms, from iPad apps to swimming pools to Princess Cruises' adults-only Sanctuary to Global Entry.

The format of TW Chats follows the typical Twitter chat format: A group of co-hosts tweet conversational questions, and Twitter users respond and engage with each other. The entire thread is linked via a hashtag, which users append to each of their chats. In this case, it's #twchats.

The opening salvo in the chat was a broad question: "What innovation has had the biggest impact on how you travel? (Not just tech, could be anything!)"

Carrie Finley-Bajak, a TW Chats co-host and Travel Weekly columnist, had made a Pinterest board of innovations, which she quickly tweeted to the group.

@Lufthansa_USA tweeted, "The Boeing 737. Lufthansa was the launch customer for the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation" -- and it jokingly appended the hashtag #humblebrag to the post.

"Our fav innovation is #swimupsuites," tweeted Sandals. "Why travel to the pool when it can come to you?"

TWCHATS"Destination immersion has had a big impact on cruise travel," added @azamaravoyages. "Stay longer in ports, really see the place you're visiting."

The second question was: "How have technology innovations helped or hindered how people buy travel?"

"We're glad that tech and social media allow us to better communicate with our guests," said MSC Cruises. And @tshoneymoons responded to say: "Now the world can buy travel anytime, anywhere, with a touch of a button. It is amazing."

The conversation changed to hotels; specifically, the best innovation in the last hotel room in which participants stayed.

"My kids definitely enjoyed the TV built into a bathroom mirror. Nothing like watching TV while brushing ur teeth," tweeted FrequentFlyerBonuses, with a shoutout to the Copper Point Resort (@CopperPointBC) in Invermere, British Columbia.

"Not my latest stay, but I was really impressed and excited about the heated bathroom floor at Hotel Gault in Montreal," added McCool Travel.

Next question: "Which technology innovations do you think have improved the travel experience?"

"Maps!" tweeted Travel Weekly Managing Editor Rebecca Tobin. "And the fact that your phone adjusts to local time."

"@twrtobin, can you believe people used to have to set their watches!" joked @Lufthansa_USA. "Sheesh!"

Skye Mayring, the managing editor of TravelAge West, a contributor to #TWchats, elicited a response from Virgin America when she tweeted that @virginamerica "offers WiFi and power outlets for your devices on every flight. This should be standard in air travel." ("Definitely a great perk!" tweeted Travel Impressions.)

When the airline tweeted "thanks for the shoutout," Mayring responded: "Most welcome. I'm a fan."

When co-hosts asked participants whether they could travel without their smartphone, @mommymusings summed up the general response with "No way!"

Another popular response was: "Yes, I can travel without a phone, but why would I want to?" And still another, from Azamara: "Smartphones can be great for maps, photo-taking getting in touch with travel companions. But turn off that work email!"

There was a variety of responses when participants were asked to name an innovation onboard a cruise ship.

The adults-only Serenity section on Princess Cruises' ships was put forward by @princesscruises as an innovation. "We love the Sanctuary sun deck," responded @AvoyaTravel. "It's a great poolside retreat for adults."

On whether participants used WiFi on airplanes: "WiFi on planes needs to be a given. It's 2013," said @scullyano.

On the best-connected cities: "I was fascinated that WiFi was in all restaurants and even on the street in many places in (tourism developing) #Nicaragua!" tweeted @travelmaestro.

And on the best travel apps: "I love Vine," tweeted @cruisebuzz.

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