The Disruptors: Big changes in global travel

When we talk about disruptors this is a good example. Quick, take a look at your watch and tell me what time it is. Don't have one? That's what cell phones have done to disrupt the wristwatch industry. Travel has also been changed by technology.

To say travel is a multibillion-dollar industry may be an understatement. Crowds packed the New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center in January. Every corner of the world was involved.

Keith Melnick is president of, one of the most forceful disruptors of the travel industry. Kayak started 13 years ago and has changed the way we travel. Forget the wrist watch; do you have a travel agent number stored on your phone?

Kayak and other sites have increased transparency, making it easier to book, nail your flight down with your hotel at the same time. Sites like Travelpirates bundle package deals.

And we don't even need our desktop computers to get it done anymore. Marybeth Bond, a National Geographic writer, says the cell phone has changed the whole face of the travel industry because you no longer need a guide book, GPS, flashlight, or even a camera. All those tools are on your phone.

Which leads us to the second layer of disruption in the travel industry: accommodations. The shared economy has opened up to travelers everything from a room in an apartment to an entire farmhouse to luxury villas. VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb have all expanded the choices out there for travelers to include way more than just hotel rooms.

Helena Kountoura is the minister of tourism in Greece. She says disruptors of the travel industry have changed the landscape so much that government regulations are struggling to keep up.

In the end, disruptors are making travel more accessible. By making it easier, disruptors in the industry have allowed more people to get out to see the world, especially the younger generation. And that's a good thing, right? The only caveat: making sure technology doesn't dominate your experience. Patricia Serrano is an eco-travel specialist. She advises: bring your cell, but not your cell service. She says turn off your data and roaming and connect with the people you are with.

In case you're fearful travel agents may be going away, don't worry. Their guidance is very much needed, especially for complicated travel.