Thanks to the development of the internet, more and more companies are now doing business internationally, which means that more and more people are going on business trips. This can be a challenging process for anyone, but it is especially so for first-timers and for people who don’t speak the local language or have much idea about the local customs. How can you ensure that you get safely from A to B, sleep, eat, and arrive feeling refreshed in the right place at the right time for your meetings? Fortunately, there are some great apps ready to help you.
TripIt is a great little all-rounder, helping you to book hotels, restaurants and buses, but it is at its most useful when it comes to flights. Once you give it your flight and hotel details it can work out your whole itinerary for you, including connections. It can inform you of any delays or cancellations and can even warn you when they might be likely because of changing weather patterns. It will let you know which gate to go to and in the event of serious problems, it will direct you to the best alternative flights. It also provides an easy-to-print copy of your plans that you can give to friends, family and business contacts as needed. There is a chargeable TripIt Pro available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and for mobile devices running Windows 7. There’s also a slimmed down free version, making it easy to give it a try and see what you think.
One of the hardest things to deal with when you are traveling on business is getting to your hotel to discover there’s been a problem and your room is no longer available to you. No matter how careful you are with your booking, these things sometimes happen, and it can be acutely distressing to find yourself stranded in a strange city after a long, tiring trip. That’s where Hotel Tonight comes in. It’s great at finding last minute vacancies close to your location, so you can find a new room and snap it up before anybody else gets it, minimizing disruption to your plans. It’s free for iPhone and Android.
Early versions of this may have been a bit clunky, but it’s getting better and better, and is incorporating an increasing number of languages. When you’re in a strange place and trying to make sense of safety instructions, street signs or a menu, it can be an enormous help. It’s also useful in meetings on those occasions that normal translation arrangements break down over an unusual word. There’s now a speech option, so you don’t have to type or try to pronounce the translation you’ve requested. It’s not always perfect, but it’s certainly better than struggling with a phrasebook. The app version is available free for iPhone or Android.
There are a lot of different restaurant-finding apps out there, but the best all-rounder is undoubtedly OpenTable. It’s designed to present you with good quality choices rather than making decisions for you, which is ideal if you’re planning on doing business while you eat and you want to make an impression. Using OpenTable, you can easily identify tables available in nearby restaurants and you can book them straight away. It’s free for iPhone and Android.
What business travelers want
New apps are always in development, and app developers at places such as worryfreelabs.com/ are always looking for new ways to appeal to their market; if you find that you face a persistent problem on your business trips and you can’t identify an app that helps with it, it’s worth talking about it on relevant forums. Developers already keep an eye on changes in how people approach business trips, such as the increasing degree to which they telecommute to the office while traveling, requiring more reliable internet access than sending the occasional email requires. Hence apps are in development to help with locating Wi-Fi hotspots that offer good bandwidth. Meanwhile, the increasing involvement of developing nations in Africa and on the Indian subcontinent in international commerce means that cities in those nations are increasingly being researched and covered by apps that previously concentrated on Western countries.
As a result of all these changes, business trips today are a lot easier to deal with than they used to be and are getting easier still. This means you can stop worrying about how it’s going to work out – just pick up the apps you need and you can start looking forward to exciting travel opportunities.