Oh how we love technology! Thanks to the efficiencies smartphones, tablets and other devices offer, business travel has never been more seamless for today’s working professional – especially during peak vacation season when your mind may be traveling to things outside of work. Just recently when we were on business in Chicago, for example, I stayed at the Hyatt Place Chicago/River North and experienced their high-tech hotel rooms. It just took a quick recharge on a nearby USB port, connection to the free Wi-Fi network and tap of a finger to quickly access files. Today it’s unbelievably easy to stay up-to-date and in touch!
As the Hyatt Place Seamless Travel Series’ Tech-spert, I was recently asked “what are the best apps to help you travel more smoothly” during a Twitter party with #TravelSkills. With hundreds of free or cost-affordable apps available for download now, you can almost manage the whole travel process from your phone. From booking your hotel room and dinner reservations to your scheduling your next flight and car service pickup, it’s important to know the best ones to utilize. For your convenience and entertainment, here are some of my favorite travel apps of all time, designed to help road warriors make the most of every trip:
No matter how complex your travel itinerary gets, you can easily manage it with this tool from most smartphones and tablets. You can track and organize your flight schedules, hotel bookings and car reservations, or pull up weather forecasts, maps and more. For business travelers, you can even use it to juggle appointments, so you don’t end up at showing up at the right time at the wrong client’s office.
Need to create a to-do list, share audio clips and images, or simply want to clip and save an interesting article you spotted for reading later? Try Evernote, an online organization app that lets you save notes, files, images, and websites you’ve bookmarked, then synchronize them across devices and access the information from anywhere. Among the best ways to keep current projects, it plays the role of virtual assistant, helping you cut through the clutter and more effectively manage your digital life.
Hunting for a hotel while on the road? Hyatt’s multilingual mobile app for Android and iPhone devices lets you book stays at hundreds of Hyatt hotels, including my personal favorite – Hyatt Place, which offers free Wi-Fi, USB recharging stations and a comfy work areas in roomy rooms specifically designed for business travelers. You can also manage reservations right from the app and access local maps or driving directions, and you can even handle check-ins and checkouts right from your pocket.
Great for getting work done while sprinting between appointments, this handy speech recognition app translates your voice into text, so you can speak your texts or emails for later use in seconds. This is also a handy way to get ideas and thoughts down on virtual paper. The next time you’re sitting at the airport and inspiration strikes, try rattling it off before you forget – you may be surprised at how brilliant a solution you’ve come up with later.
If you’re a working parent, you know how difficult it can be to stay on top of everyone’s schedule, especially while traveling. Snap One’s suite of cloud (online) apps helps solve the problem by letting you securely and privately share contacts and calendars with your family, as well as bring your files, photos, videos and documents wherever you travel. You can essentially bring your desktop along on any trip and send snapshots and videos to family back home.
Need to pickup a few common phrases for a trip overseas (Where’s the bathroom? orWhere can I find the best local restaurant?)? Rosetta Stone’s travel-friendly app helps you brush up on various languages to easily translate dialogue or practice your pronunciation. There’s also a desktop version that offers live chats and group activities so you can quickly go from flustered to fluent.
Numerous apps from FaceTime to Google Hangouts make it possible to easily videoconference with clients and colleaguesfrom a variety of gadgets. But Skype remains among the most widely popular solutions for mobile meetings or phoning back home to say helloin realtime. Suitable for both personal and professional use, it provides a free and seamless solution for video chats, so you can enjoy some face-to-face time with clients and coworkers, and – wherever you travel – be there to tuck your kids in and say goodnight.
This post was sponsored by Hyatt Place as part of its Seamless Travel Series. The opinions are my own and based on my experience.
Technology is playing a constantly-growing role in our lives. We can adjust our house’s temperature from miles away. We can charge our electronics with the aid of the sun. Rooms can even sense when people are absent, and dim the lights accordingly. What comes next? Possibly state-of-the-art playrooms that project a virtual veldt complete with parent-eating lions. No need to worry about that just yet, though. In fact, you should relax and enjoy the savings and convenience that modern household tech can offer you.
Here are the 10 best home gadgets for 2013.
MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer – 3D printers generate perfect replicas of objects. Sounds like something out of science fiction, but it’s completely real—and the technology is coming home at a rapid pace. The MakerBot Replicator 2 3D Printer can “print” copies of objects utilizing a sturdy bioplastic.
Voltaic Solar Charger Kits – Voltaic’s solar charging kits are available as portable adapters, panels, and even as backpacks. Each one utilizes the sun to charge up a multitude of electronic devices.
Maestro Occupancy Sensing Switch – Remember The Clapper, the device that turned lights on and off with audio cues? This works in much the same way, sans clap. Maestro’s Occupancy Sensing Switch uses sensors to turn on and dim the lights according to whether or not people are in the room.
Fujitsu Lifebook 2013 – All-in-one devices are convenient, but the Lifebook 2013 goes above and beyond the call of duty. It’s a laptop, a camera, a phone, and a tablet. All of its parts buddy-up together for easy travel and storage.
Raspberry Pi – Computers are vital components of our lives, and the Raspberry Pi ensures that everyone gets access to one regardless of income level. This simple credit card-sized board plugs into a TV and a keyboard and is capable of performing many of the same tasks as a full-sized PC.
Google Glasses / Project Glass – Project Glass admittedly looks silly on the face of a human being, but these glasses allow you to surf the Internet hands-free via voice commands.
Basis Band – The Basis Band is a must-have for fitness enthusiasts, or anyone who just wants to know their fitness problem areas. The band reads heart rate, blood flow, heat dissipation and sleep cycles, and then pushes you go beyond your previous limits.
iPhone 5S – We’re almost certain to see the iPhone 5S before 2013 is done. Summer or Fall are popular estimates, and rumored features include improved durability and wireless charging.
Lockitron – Lockitron should see release in 2013 thanks to a successful Kickstarter. This handy device lets you lock and secure your home from anywhere with a simple application. No more driving backwards back up your street to ensure that you locked the door before you left the house.
SmartThings – SmartThings lets you monitor, secure, and control your house through your smartphone. You can also keep tabs on the comings and goings of your family. The device’s first pre-orders will ship in Spring 2013, so if you haven’t pre-ordered, do so.
Small Business Expert
Essential hints, tips & business advice for startups & entrepreneurs.
Technology usually makes its way to our workplaces long before it comes home. That’s because so much tech is engineered with the idea of getting things done more quickly, more efficiently, and with less stress to the user. Neither every idea nor every new gadget that comes to the workplace or any place of business sticks around forever, but when we look at 2012’s big trends, we can get a rough idea of what’s going to be big through 2013.
Here are 5 predictions about 2013’s business trends.
More competition between mobile phones – The mobile market is crowded, and it’s only going to get more packed as the year goes on. The iPhone will remain a household name, but it’s already being pushed around in a big way by phones that run Android, including the Samsung Galaxy S III. We can expect more competitive pricing as a result.
Lots more competition between tablet computers – While smartphone competition looks to be hot through 2013, the tablet market will get outright fierce, particularly between 7” models. The iPad Mini should be a popular choice, though the Google Nexus 7’s attractive price certainly won’t go unnoticed by people looking to perform a little portable computing.
More use of the cloud – Hard drives and other physical storage mediums will continue to give way in favor of the convenience of cloud storage. The rise of tablets combined with usage of the cloud will see more employees working on the go as opposed to being chained to a desk and a PC.
More businesses implementing Wi-Fi Hotspots – More and more businesses, particularly retail and dining establishments, will offer free Wi-Fi to keep customers inside their walls. McDonalds and Starbucks have already done so with great success.
Long-term switch to HTML 5 and web apps – Over 2013, the popularity and usage of native apps will fade in favor of web-based apps running HTML 5. Apps certainly won’t disappear tomorrow, but consumers and users will find themselves directed to the web more and more often.
For more 2013 business trends, take a look at Gartner Inc’s 2013 trends.