Social Networks and Mobile Apps to Use While You Travel:• TripIt: once you're actually on the road, TripIt remains an outstanding way to access all of your reservation data in one place. Pull up the mobile app to find confirmation numbers, itinerary, and more. If you subscribe to TripIt Pro, you'll also receive flight notifications if you're delayed and access to all of your frequent customer programs (airlines, hotels, cars, etc.) at the touch of a button.• Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: It goes without saying that you're going to broadcast to your networks much of your travel. Utilizing the traditional networks can work to obtain recommendations, to let people know where you've been or where you're going, and to share photos.• Meetup or Upcoming.org: Check to see if there are any industry-related events that coincide with your travel plans. If so, you could find colleagues or prospects to connect with informally over coffee, breakfast or an actual event.
• Dining: A big part of business travel remains the business lunch and dinner. But when in a foreign town, you can't rely solely on the concierge of your hotel. With mobile apps such as Foodspotting, UrbanSpoon, and Eater, you can find a restaurant while you explore the city. The old stand-bys like Zagat and Yelp both have mobile apps as well to accompany their standalone reviews and recommendations, as eating somewhere that has a worthy and reliable review is always better than blindly window-shopping.
• Location-Based Social Networks: Whether you prefer Foursquare, Gowalla, Scvngr, or another location-aware network, using one is a great way to see where people in your network have been so you can get recommendations on where to eat, visit, and more. "To me there are two big benefits: the connections with people and the discovery," says Strout. "So let's say I go to Minneapolis and I don't know anything about the city. If I don't know what coffee shops to go to or where the Apple Stores are, I'm in trouble. And unless you have local knowledge, you don't know what's good. So that discovery and going and seeing where your friends are and have been, regardless of what you want."• Plancast: A simple way to share plans for your trip with others on Plancast and across other social networks and discover what other people are doing. Rather than you reaching out to everyone, people can figure out where to find you and come to meet up.• Photo-sharing apps: Popularized by a plethora of companies such as Instagram, Picplz, Pano, PhotoSynth, Hipstamatic, Path and Color, it's really a matter of preference, which one you use. But it's all about creating a visual accompaniment to whatever you are sharing. "It's like a digital postcard of where you're at that others can check out very easily," says Wofford.• GPS and Maps: Whether via your Garmin device or Google Maps on your smartphone, there's no excuse for getting lost anymore. Just plug in your destination, it determines where you are via GPS coordinates, and then follow the arrows (or the annoying voice). • Traffic.com: Particularly when you're visiting a place you don't spend a lot of time in, one wrong turn can put you in bumper-to-bumper traffic, causing you to miss an important meeting or a flight. Available on mobile devices, Traffic.com tells you what roads to avoid.Dig Deeper: Best Local Search App: PoyntHow Social Media Has Changed Business Travel: After You Return HomeThere remains a lot of potential in this area, as actually participating in the conversation on social media after your business trips concludes is rarer. But don't overlook the potential here. Other than posting photos from your journey on sites such as Flickr, you are rarely prompted to post reviews. That's where a company like Bizzy, which has a system that prompts you to review places you've been recently, has a real edge.
If you need a kick to continue the social-networking after you've landed back at home, just remember that unless you actually take the time to return e-mails, connect with folks you saw on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you're losing part of the extension of the relationship, a key to extending relationships in social media. Those simple steps make it easy to keep in touch.Dig Deeper: Get the Latest Tech News on Inc. Technology
Lou Dubois is a Philadelphia-based Social Media Editor for NBC Universal's local news affiliate (WCAU-TV). He is an experienced writer, editor and marketer who has worked with and written about Fortune 500 companies and small businesses, focusing on social media, emerging technologies, small business success, entrepreneurship, sports business and corporate policy. Previously he worked for Social Media Today, Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press and SOBeFit Magazine, along with various newspapers. @lou_dubois
Business Travel 2010