Whether you are heading to Greece for a holiday with the family or off to visit a client, traveling can be challenging, and even just planning your travels can be time-consuming and frustrating. Nothing is more unnerving than to arrive two hours late for a connecting flight and have no idea whether you are going to make it to your final destination in time for an important event or meeting. And this can happen no matter how many hours you spent working to find the best flight connections at the best prices. Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, the last thing you want to do is be given an inadequate food voucher or be sent to one of those nearby airport hotels with sticky carpet!
But today there are many tools, including websites and internet-enabled devices using travel-related apps that can rescue you from unpleasant outcomes. Tools such as Google Maps are useful for finding directions and checking out public transportation and, if you have a smartphone with GPS, products such as NAVIGON MobileNavigator provide high-quality maps for your phone and allow voice communication for hands-free directions. Products like Evernote and Microsoft OneNote can help organize all the small details travelers have to keep up with. In practical terms, these tools can help you know where you are and keep track of all your up-to-date travel details. In this article, I give you a view “from 30,000 feet” of the types of tools available for empowering travelers. I also provide insights into some of the powerful new features that we could not even imagine only a couple of years ago.
Types of Travel Tools
Unlike traditional software solutions wherein you usually get all your modules from the same vendor, cloud solutions (i.e., those for which there is no on-premise software to load) are services, not products, and fragmentation is the rule. For instance, you might choose one product to keep track of airline travel details and another to keep your appointments and calendar. Fortunately, the new cloud apps integrate well with other cloud apps in addition to traditional applications. For example, if you are currently an MS Exchange user, almost all these new cloud-based apps work well with Outlook and Exchange for email, calendaring and contact management. This article will cover three travel tool categories:
- Discount and bargain sites
- Tracking and reporting for business travel
- Credit card and club memberships
Discount and Bargain Sites
The recession has made the travel marketplace very competitive, and there are a number of sites that can help you benefit from this competitive environment. If you are a frequent traveler you know these sites well, because they probably have saved you thousands of dollars over the years.
Leading Travel Price Search Engines
RentalCars.com (Just got an intermediate-class car in Seattle for $13.32 per day from a “top 5” vendor!)
Hotels.com (Prepayment in full can save a lot for those who are sure of where they want to stay.)
Kayak.com (Search using several search engines at one time.)
(You have to love the names of the last two!)
If you are a seasoned traveler, you also know that it pays to shop around and not always rely on the same price search engine. Sometimes, the actual seller’s site (as opposed to travel agencies and travel search engines) have packages that may even be cheaper than the rack rates, which makes the extra features a real bonus. This is often true with hotel chains and airlines — particularly if a package deal suits you and your travel dates are flexible. These promotions can sometimes be hard to believe, prompting you to wonder how air, hotel, car, and meals can possibly be offered at such a low price.
Of course, there are things to watch out for when you find a deal that seems just too good to be true. Here is a short list: