Monday, November 23, 2009

More People Using Mobile Apps for Travel

More People Using Mobile Apps for Travel Solutions

These days, travelers of all ages are using their mobile devices for everything from flight notification to check-in. And many of them are even willing to accept advertising with free apps, or so says a study conducted by the Sabre Travel Network, the world's leading provider of high-performance travel industry solutions. The global mobile survey of 800 corporate and leisure travelers from North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific covered a broad range of topis from fees for apps to preferred features. Here's a look at what they found:

69% of the travelers surveyed owned a smartphone, with North Americans being most likely to own one (78%) and Asian Pacific travelers being least likely (46%). Most of the smartphone owners used their phone for email and about half used it for internet purposes. While younger generations are usually thought of as the ones to keep up with trendy technology, the survey found that nearly half, or about 47% of smartphone-owning travelers are 40-years-old or older, proving that theory wrong.

Both corporate and leisure travelers showed that they were often using their phones for getting relevant travel information in a timely manner. According to Greg Webb, the chief marketing officer of Sabre Holdings, smartphones are actually the preferred way to get information and he sees a huge opportunity for the travel industry, "This trend has seemingly penetrated all ages across all continents, highlighting the tremendous opportunity for travel agencies and suppliers to leverage mobile solutions to demonstrate value to their customers and creatively reach target audiences."

The study found that 63% of travelers are open to automating reaccommodation services and checking in and out of hotels with their mobile phones and 61% are willing to to use their phones to book flights. The travel booking company Travelocity validated this response by saying they've seen a large increase in the number of bookings coming from mobile devices in recent months. Of the various groups surveyed, Europeans seemed more open to using new mobile technology for these activities.

All travelers said they were willing to compromise some advertising for free travel apps. 28% of frequent travelers and 22% of leisure travelers said they actually preferred the free apps. However, in Europe, only 14% of travelers preferred the free apps.

"There's been a lot of experimentation with pay-for-services in the past," Webb said in a statement. "With advertising emerging as a more palatable choice for travelers, application providers and retailers now have a way of monetizing their offering and driving more value out of a potentially lucrative marketing channel." He also asserted that Sabre is committed to helping the travel industry "advance their mobile strategies" and next year, the company plans to increased mobile investments to, "continue growing our award-winning portfolio of mobile solutions for both agency and airline customers."

Sabre's recent launch of the mobile app TripCase for iPhone and Blackberry has been downloaded tens of thousands of times and was nominated for a "Innovator of the Year" nomination by PhoCusWright and was named "Best Travel App" by Business Week. Their Virtually There itinerary service is used by over 30,000 travel agencies around the world.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Travel Search Tool From Amadeus

New Travel Search Tool From Amadeus

Amadeus, a travel technology provider, has launched a tool that claims it will change the way people search for travel. The Amadeus Affinity Shopper allows potential travellers to search an airline's website by desired travel experience verses putting in a specific destination or price bracket.

Amadeus currently offers a tool called Extreme Search which allows travelers to search for packages based on open questions such as "where can I go and what can I do for what I want to spend?" With Affinity Shopper, this is the first time that technology will be available on airline websites. The difference between Extreme Search and other search engines is that it allows the traveller to make a selection without having to choose a destination city or date.

The first airline to test the tool will be Lufthansa, with other airlines trying it out next year. They are also hoping to get a travel agent version of the tool into travel agencies next year. Ian Wheeler, the Vice President of Marketing and Distribution for Amadeus said, "We think it’s quite a revolution in the way people will search for travel compared to the way they do today. We are launching with Lufthansa but the aim is to multi-brand airlines and add future content," when the tool was unveiled on Tuesday.

"Affinity Shopper gives our customers further options to use our website as a traveller playground where users can explore and determine their trip based on what they would like to do during their travel. Our customers are able to conduct a search for a 'beach holiday in Europe based on a budget range,' or even a completely open search for a holiday for less than, for example, $700 per person," said Marcus Casey, the Head of e-Commerce and Mobile at Lufthansa

Amadeus also released a report called "The Amateur-Expert Traveller." The report suggests because of internet, travellers are more knowledgeable, more adventurous and more open to new technology than ever.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In-Dash iPhone Dock Announced

Forget the days of hooking your iPhone or iPod to various wires to get the music to play through your car speakers. Now the folks at Dual Electronics have solved that problem for us with an in-dash iPhone dock with AM/FM capabilities.

Simply looking at the 200-watt XML8110 in its original form, you wouldn't think it's anything but a regular AM/FM car stereo. But it unfolds to show you a spot to dock your iPhone directly to it. It comes with optional steering control input, remote control, Bluetooth for hands-free operation with caller ID. There's also a iPhone app in the works to go along with it.

The price isn't very steep, at $99, its definitely not at the far end of the pricing spectrum. If you use your iPhone a lot while traveling, it may prove to be a worthwhile investment, and it'll save your iphone from bouncing around in the car.
(h/t: Dvice)

Monday, November 16, 2009

CarMD Handheld Diagnostic Tool

Ever had your check engine light come on and you take your car to your mechanic just to find out that your gas cap wasn't on tight enough? No? Maybe that's just me. But if you're like me and millions of others who regularly take their cars to an over-priced mechanic for a simple fix, this handy little tool might be for you. CarMD is a personal handheld diagnostic tool you can use yourself.

CarMD plugs right into your cars computer system and reads your engine codes. Almost exactly like the one your mechanic has. It will tell you what's wrong with your car and CarMD offers access to its database. The database contains thousands of fixes from ASE certified mechanics. Fixing it yourself can sometimes be simple and easy to do do yourself, which saves you a ton of money.

The tool can produce an online diagnostic report with the estimated cost for repairs broken down by parts and labor or region, so you know ahead of time what you'll be paying if you decide to bring your car to your mechanic. You may even be able to use that to haggle the price your mechanic charges you.

In a tough economy, the $98 price tag may seem steep. But it could be worth it in the long run, especially when it comes to minor repairs and making sure your mechanic is being fair.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Top Five Travel Gadgets of 2009

TopTravel Gadgets of 2009

As the end of the year grows near, several "Top" lists of 2009 are popping up. One great list is Time Magazine's recently released "The Best Travel Gadgets of 2009." If you're planning to travel, for business or pleasure, anytime soon, and you want to stay connected with the latest (and best-looking) technology, this is the list for you. Let's take a look at the top five.

Coming in at number one is the Slingbox Pro-HD. This neat little gadget is great for catching up on your favorite television programming on the road. It allows you to watch video from several sources including your home cable box, DVR or DVD player. Using the internet, tune in via your mobile phone, laptop or other mobile device.

The next item on the list is MiFi. Forget trying to find wi-fi wherever you're traveling. MiFi by Novatel is your own personal mobile hotspot that allows you to tap into Sprint and Verizon's 3G networks. Never be without a connection again!

Following Mi-Fi on the list is the Targus 4-Port Smart USB Hub. There are very few items out there today that don't use a USB. The problem is, most laptops only have two ports. With this device, you can turn one port into four! It connects with a durable cord and features a one-touch reset button that allows you to restore connectivity to all of your devices.

At number four on the list is Apple's MacBook. Apple's little laptop (13 inches) was recently updated with a new polycarbonate shell for durability and style and an LED-backlit screen that helps increase battery life to seven hours, as well as providing instant full-screen brightness as soon as it is turned on. It's environment, as well as consumer-friendly.

Rounding out the top five is the Beats Solo. These $200 over-the-ear headphones were created by Dr. Dre and Monster Cable and the according to Time, provide outstanding sound. It also comes with a built-in hi-fi mike and ControlTalk, a controller on the headphone cable that allows you to adjust volume and playback, and is said to be very light and comfortable.

To view the rest of the top 25, visit

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Feature-filled Budget GPS System: The TomTom One 140-S

tomtom one 140-sThe new TomTom One 140-S has finally brought some competition to the entry-level GPS market. It has a multitude of features that makes it stand far above many people’s reigning budget GPS choice, the $249.99 Garmin nĂ¼vi 265T.

The first thing that will draw your attention to the TomTom is its sleek stylish appearance. Its features a glossy black case with chrome-accent trimming around the 3.5-inch touch screen. The whole GPS system measures 3.0 x 3.6 x 0.8 inches (HWD) and weighs a total of 6.8 ounces with the suction-cup mounting bracket. The Easyport mounting bracket is not exactly what you would call easy. To remove the GPS from the bracket, you must either pop the GPS out of the mounting systems or remove the entire apparatus itself from the windshield. The problem with just popping the GPS out is that it is very difficult to put back into the bracket, and the issue with removing the whole bracket is that it can be difficult to stick back on your windshield.

Although the TomTom One 140-S is very similar to its previous model, the 130-S, there have been some very exciting improvements to the system. The 140-S now sports a Quick Menu. This gives you the ability to choose up to six of your most used functions for easy access through onscreen shortcut icons. There are also new and improved maps on the 140-S and an expanded points-of-interest database that features over seven million entries that spread over all 50 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The maps are pre-loaded on your internal memory, and with the TomTom’s Home application you can plot your trips and update your maps through your PC.

A disadvantage with the TomTom One 140-S is that it does not include live traffic capabilities. To solve this problem, you will have to purchase a USB RDS-TMC traffic receiver for $59.97. This does include a free subscription for the first year but will cost you about $60 per year after that.

One of the really cool features included in the 140-S is the IQ Routes. This technology will calculate your optimal routes based on previous knowledge of your average speed. These results will give a more accurate estimated time than speed-limit-only data. It takes a little longer to calculate your route, but it is obviously worth the wait for a more accurate prediction and quicker route.

Another important feature to discuss is the Advanced Lane Guidance of the 140-S. This allows you to clearly see which lane you should be in to accomplish any upcoming maneuvers and informs you of any road signs that you can expect to see. Lane Guidance is an excellent safety feature that is difficult to find in any budget GPS systems. The 140-S also includes itinerary planning, which can come in handy when taking a multi-segmented trip.

The TomTom One 140-S is easy to operate, like its predecessor the 130-S. The volume has definitely been improved on the 140-S though, which is a welcome change. The 140-S can get as loud as you could possibly need, and conveniently increases the volume automatically every time the car goes over 45 mph.
The TomTom One 140-S has so many outstanding features for its small price tag. For $199.95 you can possess a GPS system that features a Quick Menu, IQ Routes, Advanced Lane Guidance, itinerary planning, and so much more. I feel that this budget GPS is definitely the way to go. With all the features that can’t be found in any other budget GPS system’s, how could you possibly pass the it up. The TomTom One 140-S is definitely a breath of fresh air.

Saturday, November 7, 2009 Launches "How To" Videos

Last week, announced that they were expanding their website's video content to include "how to" videos. Each video gives five tips on how to save money in cities around the world, London, New York, Paris, Amsterdam and Edinburgh, with more cities to come. editor Colm Hanratty, who also produces and stars in the videos, says he hopes the video will increase the company's presence on popular "how to" video sites such as and

The website also features new videos called "city postcards" which give viewers a glimpse into the cities they feature, listing top attractions, restaurants and bars. Each video is short - three minutes or less - and the postcard videos are currently available for Cork, Stockholm and Zurich. More videos should be available in 2010.

HostelWorld is no stranger to online videos. Their "10 Things You Need to Know About..." city guide videos won the company a Webby Award. They also feature videos on 200 of the top hostels in the world.

"After the success of our city guide videos, we felt we needed to give our users a new type of video. As 'How to…' video sites are increasingly popular, and everybody likes finding out how to save money due to the current economic climate, videos offering people invaluable tips on how to save money in the world’s top cities seemed like the perfect option,” Hanratty said of the new videos.

He is currently in South America filming more videos and putting together more content for the website. South America is said to be a hot destination for backpackers and gap year students in 2010 and HostelWorld is hoping the new information will help prospective visitors to the continent.

Check out one of HostelWorld's videos on "How to Save Money in New York" below:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Travel Books Meet Mobile Technology with QR Codes

Travel Books Meet Mobile Technology with QR Codes
As the line between actual books printed on paper and electronic books blur, the publishing industry is always looking to come up with new, innovative ways to stay current. The world of travel guides is no different. Travelers increasingly turn to laptops and cell phones to do everything from plan their vacations to find their way around a new place.

But now, Quick Response(QR)Codes offer an easier way to connect your travel guidebooks with your smartphone. The codes are already a big hit in Japan. Essentially, you can aim smartphone cameras and other devices at the QR codes, which are like barcodes found in travel books, and you're linked to online information such as maps or directions based on where you are located. You may also store information in your phone about the location on the page. QR codes aren't just in books, though. You can find them everywhere from on billboards to t-shirts.

A new travel book, Earthbound: A Rough Guide to the World in Pictures is using QR codes to help link readers to different locations around the world. The $30 coffee-table book features over 250 glossy photos from exotic world locations with insight from the photographers. It's just like any other travel or photo book, but it also features little black and white boxes next to each image. These are the QR codes and they offer a link to each location on Google Maps.

The book suggests using either of the free apps, 2D sense and NeoReader, for reading the codes. QuickMark code-scanning app ($0.99 in the app store) is also said to be a good app to use along with the QR codes. A spokesperson for the book's publisher says later generation iPhones and Blackberry's work best for reading the codes. In addition to looking at maps of the various locales, you can look at satellite images and bookmark locations so that you can get directions to that location should you ever be in the area.

This may not seem like much, but technology experts say it's only the beginning of what you could do with QR codes and travel. An Associated Press writer compares it to folding down the pages in a guidebook, while Scott Strickland, the Rough Guides Design Manager says he foresees a future where travelers can scan the codes in the books and leave the books at home or in their hotel rooms, to lighten their loads. He also says the company is simply "testing the waters" and while they do agree there is a widening gap between print books and technology, they have no further concrete plans to put QR codes in more books, at least not until the phenomenon becomes more popular.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fear of Flying? There's an App for That!

Many people are afraid of flying. Whether it be a little anxiety or the inability to board an airplane all together, it's a problem many people suffer from on a day-to-day basis. Virgin Atlantic's "Flying Without Fear" Course has a 98% success and now the airline is packaging the course into an app for iPhone and iPod touch.

"This is Virgin Atlantic innovation at its best. Our first iPhone app will bring the benefits of our successful Flying Without Fear course to millions of people around the world who are now using mobile technology to make their lives better. The app will put many travelers at ease and enable them to prepare for their first Virgin Atlantic flight," said Sir Richard Branson, the president of Virgina Atlantic.

The app was developed in association with Mental Workout, a company who develops mobile apps that help people resolve issues and increase mental performance. It contains a personal introduction from Branson, a video-based explanation of your flight from start to finish, frequently asked questions, relaxation techniques, fear therapy, fear attack button for emergencies, breathing exercises, quick tips and a "My Program" section where users can rate their personal fears and add their future flights for future trips. Users will also receive 2,000 points when joining Virgin's Flying Club.

Actress Whoopi Goldberg is a recent participant in the Flying Without Fear program, and while she claims she was skeptical at first, she is now able to fly after 13 years of not doing so, "The program works, I was a skeptic. I hadn't flown in 13 years but after doing their program, I understood that while my fear was real, there were many things I didn't know or had misinformation about, which they were able to clear up. So what happened? I now fly. It's that simple."

The Flying Without Fear App is $4.99 and can be purchased for any iPhone or iPod touch at the App Store.