I don’t know about you, but I love to travel! I first went travelling as a 21-year- old, with five local surfer boys and basically travelled for the rest of my 20s. It wasn't a gap year for me, it was a gap decade!
Back then, the only piece of technology we travelled with was an email address, which allowed us to pop into internet cafes, if there was one where we were – and we had to patiently await the painfully slow dial-up connection to get us online. How times have changed!
These days, I don’t know many people who would travel without technology, and when it comes to business, both packing the right technology and using the right technology to make the trip run smoothly are essential!
Given that my company services clients in every state of Australia and also some internationals – and I regularly do public speaking appearances – my job requires me to travel from time to time. Given I am time-poor, I couldn’t live without my business travel apps and websites too.
Here are some of my favourite technologies for business travel....
TripItTripIt is one of my favourite apps of all time because it helps get me organised when I travel with very little effort involved (apart from the set up).
Join their free service by going to their website and creating a free account, and then if you use Gmail, accept the option to connect the two together. From then on, the service will scan your email inbox multiple times a day for any travel plans in the form of flight-confirmation PDFs, car-rental agreements, hotel bookings etc, and will automatically import them to your TripIt itineraries.
Next, download the app to your phone or tablet, and now you have all of your details related to your next trip(s) at easy access. Want to know if you were flying Jetstar or Qantas on the way to the airport? Was your flight out of the Sunshine Coast, or Brisbane? Was it 7am, or 7pm? Quickly check all details on TripIt without any need for data entry.
Want to up the chances of bumping into your friends while you’re in the same random location? Connect your Facebook friends on TripIt and find out when your trips are overlapping.
Fantastic to share your itinerary with family too, so they can keep up with your movements while you’re away and have contact details handy.
MORE INFO: http://www.tripit.com
AirBnBIf you travel a lot, hotels can be a little impersonal sometimes. I’m a social person, and I quite like to meet people from where ever it is I am visiting to enrich the overall experience. Since starting in 2008, AirBnB has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon with over 11 million recognised as AirBnB guests in more than 34,000 cities and 192 countries.
Whether you’re looking for an apartment for a night, a castle for a week or a villa for a month, AirBnB is a community marketplace for people to find and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone.
On the flipside, if money is a little tight in the family budget (or if you just like meeting people like we do) and you have a spare room or granny flat, you could always list your place here and make some extra cash! We've been renting our granny flat out on AirBNB since late last year and love meeting people from all over the world.
MORE INFO: http://www.airbnb.com
Oz PlannerThis app, created by Tourism Australia, gives travellers ideas on where to go, what to do or where to stay in Australia. Use the maps to find a great range of tourism products. The app also features:
– Stop-start video
– Interactive imagery and videos
– Travel stories about some of our most unique attractions
– World class experiences and places to stay
MORE INFO: http://www.australia.com/apps.aspx
TripAdvisorTripAdvisor.com is a travel website providing directory information and reviews of travel-related content. It also includes interactive travel forums.
TripAdvisor was an early adopter of user-generated content (where the users of the website submit reviews and other information) and, as such, there is an enormous amount of content available on the site from people sharing their own experiences in the properties you are researching.
They also have an excellent social integration where, if you are logged into Facebook, you will be able to see if your friends, or friends of friends, have stayed at a certain accommodation, and read the thoughts of people you know and trust.
MORE INFO: http://www.tripadvisor.com
SmartTraveller is an app created by the federal government of Australia that contains up-to-date information about the risks you might face overseas, helping you to make well-informed decisions about whether, when and where to travel. On it, you can register your travel plans; and the information you provide will help emergency services to contact or find you in an emergency – whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or family emergency.
It may also be used to pass you other information, such as important travel advice updates. It also contains information on where to get help, including contact details for Australian embassies and consulates and a handy travel checklist that will help guide your travel preparation. Don’t leave home without it!
SkyscannerSkyscanner Australia searches over 600 airlines on 200,000 routes to 5,000 airports. It helps you compare flights to quickly find you the cheapest deals, as well as seeking out the cheapest hotels and car hire. The service, like many others listed in this book, is totally free. When you find your flights and click to book, they link you through directly to the airline or travel agent.
MORE INFO: http://www.skyscanner.com.au/
Google Calendar & Google Now
I’ve already outlined how wonderful Google Calendar is in previous blog posts, and it is important to know that from a business travel perspective, it integrates seamlessly with TripIt, so you have all of your travel details handy. It is also recommended that when you travel, you use the dedicated Google Calendar app on your mobile devices rather than your phone’s standard calendar app. Why? Because it integrates all of Google’s services into your calendar, such as the Google Now function. This allows you access real time data that may affect your travel plans.Google Now will send you an alert that you ‘should be leaving now’ for a meeting or flight, based on the current traffic conditions along your recommended travel route.
The Google Now feature is also accessible on your computer by signing into Chrome with the same account that you use on your mobile device.
It displays informative ‘cards’ that provide information about weather, sports and other updates, depending on what you search. It will also display information related to your travel time to your home or office, if you have saved the addresses.
MORE INFO: http://www.google.com/now
Accommodation Loyalty AppsI would recommending downloading apps to access your preferred accommodation providers and booking services. Staying loyal to a hotel brand or network can be rewarding when you travel often, with the ability to earn frequent stay points and status, which can later translate into free stays, discounts and other perks.
At many hotels using these apps, you can check into your room online and take advantage of special offers and upgrades available only by booking online when logged in as a member.
Do you use the business travel technology listed above? Do you have other favourites we should know about? Comment in the section below!
PLEASE NOTE - THIS POST IS AN ENTRY TO THE VIRGIN AUSTRALIA COMPETITION.