Three words to find an amazing place to stay

Richard Lewis By Richard Lewis
Uploaded 13 February 2017

Richard Lewis looks at the benefits the travel industry could gain from a unique new addressing system.

A staggering 75 per cent of the world suffers from poor addressing or none at all. For the travel and tourism industries, effectively communicating location is essential. As a hotelier, I have seen first-hand the frustrations that poor addressing can bring. I know how much it can damage a guest's perception if they get lost or show up at the wrong hotel because there are two properties with the same brand, in the same city. And as a globe-trotter, I know how upsetting it can be to miss out on that special, once-in-a-lifetime experience, simply because you took the wrong turn or were given inaccurate or partial directions.

Despite all the tools and services at our fingertips, we still struggle to define and communicate a precise location. If a hotel can't direct people to their own front door every time, or a tour guide provide an exact meeting point for visitors, travellers become increasingly frustrated. In isolated parts of the world, this is an even bigger problem. Many of the most inspiring places in the world don't have an address. If I want to meet friends in Cappadocia, Turkey, to go hot air ballooning, how can I let them know precisely where I will be - in a simple and easy to communicate way?

• Introducing a 3 word solution
what3words is enabling tourism businesses to share their location accurately every time and helping travellers explore the world without getting lost. The award-winning global addressing system has divided the world into a grid of 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares, assigning each one with a unique and precise 3 word address. Described by The Economist as "an ingenious system", what3words provides an incredibly simple way of talking about location. The system has been adopted in over 170 countries, spanning industries from logistics and asset management, to humanitarian relief and navigation. And a growing number of national postal services are adopting what3words as an addressing standard, including Mongolia, Côte d'Ivoire, St Maarten and Tonga.

With what3words, everyone and everywhere now has a simple address - your front door, the beach bar, that stunning waterfall, the hotel foyer. It's also making the world more accessible than ever before, as Conde Nast Traveller attests to - "Ever tried to locate a hotel in the labyrinth of Stone Town, Zanzibar with nothing but an address? I have - and it's not fun. Armed with "sideburns.troll.leaps" and a phone, it would have taken a matter of minutes".

Apps, maps and guides for travellers, such as Pearlshare, TripGo, Navmii and PocketEarth have what3words built-in, meaning tourists can discover and travel to and from easy-to-remember 3 word addresses, without wasting valuable time. The system is available in 15 languages and works offline too, so travellers in unfamiliar or foreign cities are no longer hindered by language barriers or roaming data charges.

• Helping travellers get where they're meant to be
Visitors to last summer's Olympic Games in Rio were able to plan trips around the city using 3 word addresses, thanks to a partnership between what3words and RioGo, the award-winning trip planning app. More recently, STA Travel embarked on a 3 word address whistle-stop tour around the world, giving further credence to what3words as a must-have travel tool.

Tourist boards and rental accommodation are realizing the benefits that 3 word addresses bring, helping visitors plan trips with ease. Hotels, bars and restaurants can provide the precise location of their front door. National parks can pinpoint the start of a hiking trail or car park entrance. And retailers can rest assured that their customers will always locate a meeting point or find an attraction.

Campsites no longer need to rely on descriptive directions or unreliable signage to point customers to their front gate. Instead, a 3 word address can identify their location - whether surrounded by farmland in rural England or hidden in the great North American forest. Adventure Tour Operators  can also use 3 word addresses to plan their itineraries and venture deep into uncharted territory, safe in the knowledge that they'll always find camp at the end of the day. Even holiday photos can be tagged with their precise 3 word location and shared with friends or on social media.

Airsorted have added 3 word addresses for each of their managed Airbnb properties. The Independent Map Company provides a guide to the best local shops, each listing a 3 word address, and A Hedonist's Guide are now sharing the 3 word addresses for their handpicked city destinations. The Ulaanbaatar Tourist Board displays the 3 word address of every location in the city, including its traditional Yurt campsites. Yosemite National Park and Glastonbury are also using what3words, and hotel chains like the Landmark Hotels in Dubai provide the 3 word address of each front door for their guests.

In all my years in hospitality and travel, I have never heard so many people, from so many countries, in so many diverse businesses say, 'Wow'. 3 word addresses are transforming the way we think about travel and opening up the world like never before. 

To learn more more about how 3 word addresses can transform, visit what3words.com/travel or download their free travel brochure.

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