Today's innovators have learned how to apply principles of efficiency well beyond manufacturing. One of the areas experiencing an explosion of smart tech solutions is business travel, where gadgets and apps have made the journey as much of a draw as the destination.
Traveling for business has become an increasingly familiar activity for founders, especially since hot new hubs for talent and investment have started popping up all over the country. With the proliferation of Wi-Fi hotspots on planes and the ubiquity of face-to-face screen communication, gone are the days when business owners could sit back, relax, and enjoy four hours of uninterrupted naptime. In fact, research has suggested that frequent business travel can actually take a toll on your health.
Designers of the best travel apps have carefully studied the tech jetsetter's journey from door to door, de-stressing travelers by removing their burdens at every stop. These apps increase efficiency, productivity, and even fun on the road, and might start to change your perception of what business travel can be.
Here are my 10 favorite travel apps for busy, on-the-go founders:
TripIt. You walk into your New York office, and walk out heading straight to LaGuardia for an emergency meeting with investors in California. It's last minute, so your whole team is booked on separate flights. There are pesky confirmation numbers, emails flying back and forth, and of course you still want to get your airline miles points. This is where an app that consolidates all your plans into one easy-to-access itinerary comes in handy. TripIt is that app.
GateGuru. Knowing the length of security lines or the distance from baggage check to your gate can mean the difference between taking a detour to find an outlet for a much-needed recharge and hurried panic when you arrive at the airport. GateGuru gives you detailed airport maps and real-time information on some of the more unpleasant aspects of air travel, such as unexpected gate changes, so you don't have to find out about them when it's too late.
Dufl. Packing a suitcase--even if it's just for a two-day trip--can be a chore. Or maybe you just hate checking bags. Either way, the personalized wardrobe concierge at Dufl will have you looking sharp without ever touching a suitcase. Virtually store your clothes in Dufl's closet, then pick out an outfit to meet you, clean and pressed, at your destination city. When the trip is over, leave your clothes at your hotel and Dufl will pick them up and hang them for next time.
Onavo. Business travel often means finding yourself in unfamiliar terrain with no Wi-Fi signal in sight. That's where a utility like Onavo comes in handy. It works in the background on your phone to compress your data and save on charges when you're out of Wi-Fi range. It also provides detailed data reports for each app you're running.
Concur. The sleekest and most popular app for tracking travel expenses, Concur makes life easier for you and your finance team. Flights, hotels, rental cars, receipts--this app takes care of it all, and even itemizes the expenditures. It also integrates with your corporate credit card and sends reports back to your finance team for easy sign-off (or the opposite).
PandaDoc. Electronic signatures are pretty much standard now, but PandaDoc goes well beyond John Hancocks to simplify every aspect of digital transaction management. From delivering sales quotes and proposals to signing NDAs and automating workflows among the team, PandaDoc is great for closing deals on the fly and from any device.
Handshake. The ideal app for trade shows, Handshake allows you to see more customers and process orders more efficiently. You can also showcase your full catalog from within the app, send and receive updates directly to and from your reps on the ground, and create a custom B2B portal to attract more retailers.
Foodspotting. It can't be all work all the time. You have to eat sometime. What makes this different from the dozens of other restaurant finder apps? With FoodSpotting, you can search by craving. Nearby pad Thai? Dark beer? Vegan cheesecake? Enter a dish and Foodspotting will take you there.
BestParking. Save money, headaches, and arguments with your backseat driving colleagues by finding the cheapest and most convenient parking lots, structures, and spaces near your destination.
Google Translate. Take a picture of a sign, menu, book, etc. with text in a number of foreign languages and Google Translate can now very accurately reproduce the words in English. I just thought I would let you know that the future is here.