From the obvious to the obscure, there truly is an app for everyone—and the weary business traveller is no exception. Travel apps can save you precious time and money allowing you to book flights, hail cabs, find the local watering hole, locate the nearest restaurant and translate the menu. Bonus: almost all travel apps are free, and if you download the right ones, travelling just became much less stressful.
Given all the benefits, PROFIT asked a few seasoned globetrotters to tell us which apps they can’t live without:
Boasting more than 75 million reviews of hotels, airlines, restaurants, rentals, and so much more, the TripAdvisor app is one of the most popular out there. Trip Advisor provides insight on all aspects of travel. “I can always find the best spots to visit based on user feedback,” says Ryan Chong, an interactive product developer and entrepreneur who travels every few months. Trip Advisor’s “Near Me Now” feature is particularly useful in this regard. It displays a map showing which options are near you—and accompanying reviews to help you decide whether they’re worth visiting. Travellers can also access millions of user photos to better gauge if a hotel is worth staying at or a beach worth lying on. While defining quality is a highly subjective assessment, Trip Advisor’s wealth of candid opinions is reason enough to get the app.
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Kayak is a multi-purpose travel app that is particularly useful for purchasing plane tickets, booking hotels, creating itineraries, and checking your flight status. “It compares deals from all over the place and shows you your options,” says television producer Jeff Preyra. “I travel about six times a year and I like Kayak because I can find the best deals.” Once a traveller decides on what he or she would like to purchase or rent, Kayak sends them right to the booking page to save time. The app is also fast and its display is easy to master thanks to its intuitive configuration and familiar iconography.
iTranslate is the most advanced and popular translating app around. Capable of deciphering more than 60 languages, iTranslate’s unique dictionary interprets text and speech (including dialects and accents) and produces several different meanings depending on the context. “It’s accurate,” says Dany Le Goaix, an IT infrastructure professional at IBM. “If you’re in a restaurant, for example, you’ll know exactly what you’re eating.” The app also Romanizes non-Latin languages, providing phonetic alternatives for otherwise unreadable characters. “The difference is night and day,” says Le Goaix on the how iTranslate has improved his business travel experience. “Before I had to go into a country with a pile of guidebooks. Now I have everything I need on my phone.”
TripIt for Teams
Building on the original TripIt for Business app, Concur’s TripIt for Teams keeps track of employees when they’re on the road through the creation of a dashboard listing everyone’s whereabouts. To produce the staff-wide itinerary, a team leader forwards flight, hotel, car rental, and other travel information—with staff emails in the subject line—to email@example.com. The resulting dashboard shows who is travelling where, their accommodations, whether reservations are complete, as well as the cost of the trip. Making last-minute changes is simple: the traveller forwards his or her new confirmation email to TripIt and the dashboard is updated. “It removes the phone calls and multiple emails,” says Barry Padgett, executive vice-president, Traveler Services at Concur. “We look at the app as an easy, one-stop shop.'”
Twitter (yes, Twitter)
Twitter is so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget how useful it is when travelling for business. “It’s the only app I use,” says David Leonard, director of Events and Special Projects at the Walrus Foundation. Leonard visits at least 10 cities a year across Canada and uses Twitter’s hashtag function to draw upon local knowledge. “Every major city now has critical mass on Twitter,” says Leonard. “People living in those cities want to share what their community has to offer.” And with Twitter’s location services, travellers can ask local tweeters where to find a museum or restaurant within a certain radius. Even though Twitter isn’t designed for travel specifically, it is perfectly suited for making informed decisions when abroad.