10 Innovations that made business travel suck less

Every once is a while I’ll do something like order a car service with a phone app or download a 20mb presentation in a airport and realize just how far business travel has come in 15 years. Being a road warrior sucked in the 90s. You had cool tools in the office, but once you stepped out you were a caveman.

The last few years have brought a flood of truly useful tools and services that have changed business travel forever. Travel is still tough but with things like this it’s a lot easier. Here are a few of my faves:

  1. Google Maps: Every time I use the app I think to myself: holy crap, I’m glad I don’t work for one of the GPS companies. Works all the time and hasn’t let me down yet and I use it EVERY trip.
  2. Starbucks: The only thing I love more than coffee is free wifi. I’m old enough to remember looking for a phone jack in an airport to dial up to the Internet to grab my email. Shudder.
  3. Uber: Once you’ve tried Uber you’ll never be happy with a normal cab ride again. Super easy user experience, the best drivers and reasonable rates. Plus there’s no cash or cards changing hands. Truly disruptive.
  4. Zipcar: I rarely need a car for a whole trip. I want a car for a couple of hours to run out to a far-flung office campus. This is where Zipcar shines. Grab a car at a downtown location, use it for a few hours, return it and never see a human in the process. Amazing.
  5. MacBook Air: Do you remember 15lb laptops? Well my shoulder does. My Air weighs about as much as a baby sparrow plus the battery lasts forever, it boots quickly and is super speedy. Hard disk size is smallish but who uses local storage anymore.
  6. Rdio: I listen to a ton of music on the road. It fills time in trains, at airports and walking to meetings. Rdio lets me bring everything with me with. Plus the playlists help me discover new music.
  7. Dropbox, Box or Google Drive: We use a lot of decks and video and they’re all a squillion MBs in size…..or close to it. I love keeping a library of content that I can access from anywhere at anytime.
  8. Speek: Remembering a conference bridge password while huddling in a quiet corner of a hotel lobby is a pain in the butt. Speek offers super simple conference call service where all you need is an app or a URL.
  9. Yelp: Coffee meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings and drinks. All in a city you don’t know. Yelp rules at finding a decent place if you learn how to read the reviews with a critical eye.
  10. Smartphones: Don’t laugh. It wasn’t that long ago the only place you got your email was on your laptop. The only time I open my laptop during the day on a trip is to do a demo.

I wouldn’t go back to the days of paper maps, dial-up Internet, big ass laptops, lousy cabs and eating in hotel restarants for anything. These are a few of the things that make my life on the road a lot easier. What are your faves?

Comments (2)

1, 5, 7 and 10!

Yes you are right business travel has transformed completely.

I don’t want to remember how inconvenient some things used to be.

Thanks for sharing Rob!

Hands down #10 – smartphone (& tablet) have been game changers.

Yelp…. Yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp, yelp…. I use this fine service with a hint of optimistic caution…. Yelp has left me in a New Orleans alley at A (not THE) ‘Degas’ house staring down James Carville and Mary Matalin while debating with my better 1/2 on the finer points of which one of us would have the opportunity to shuck the three $100 raw shrimp forced upon us as entree… after my better 1/2 had seriously questioned the usage of said service in the first place. Basically Yelp can impact your marriage is all I’m saying. I digress….

Bluetooth is another obvious favorite. A three hour conference call holding a cell phone in an airport is a special kind of ‘problem’ that I have mostly blocked out of memory.

Business travel is definitely getting better though.

Thanks for sharing!

Written from a random restraunt in a random town. Fourth state in two days…

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