From Concept to Consumer: TripIt: Help arrives for the frequent traveler

TripIt is suited for the business traveler who is traveling several times a month and needs a way to keep the details of each trip organized.

By PHIL BAKER
July 19, 2009 16:44
3 minute read.
From Concept to Consumer: TripIt: Help arrives for the frequent traveler

airplane 248.88. (photo credit: AP )

I'm leaving on a business trip and taking with me a neatly printed list of all of the trip details, including flight itinerary, rental car and hotel information, directions to my hotel and phone numbers for everything. I also have the list on my computer and iPhone with links to even more details. Did my travel agent or travel department prepare this? Not a chance; I make my own reservations. Credit goes to a new software service called TripIt (tripit.com). TripIt offers a new way to help you manage all of your travel. It's particularly suited for the business traveler who is traveling several times a month and needs a way to keep the details of each trip organized and easily accessible. TripIt comes in two versions, a basic and a Pro. I tried out the Pro version. While TripIt builds and organizes your itinerary before departing, it does even more during your trip. It sends you useful information when you need it, such as reminding you to check in online or notifying you of a flight delay. Once you sign up, you simply forward the confirmation e-mails that you receive from your airline, hotel, car rental company and other providers at any time prior to the trip to plans@tripit.com. TripIt associates your e-mail address with your account and creates a trip record. It's able to interpret the content of each of the e-mails, parse each one and figure out all the details of your trip, including flight numbers, dates and times, and locations to create your itinerary. It organizes all these details in a list that you can print and access online. You can forward the confirmations for different trips in any order and it will associate them with the correct one. It also automatically adds additional items to the list that can be quite helpful. As an example, I recently took a trip to New York City using JetBlue and stayed at the Hotel Gansevoort in Manhattan. After making reservations with the airline and hotel, several days apart, I simply forwarded their confirmation e-mails to TripIt upon receipt. TripIt created a "New York City" trip, listing my activities in chronological order. The first item in the list was my JetBlue flight details from San Diego to JFK, including the airline's phone number, aircraft type, terminal details, miles and duration. Next was the hotel information including rate, location, check-in and -out times, confirmation number and room details. TripIt added several additional items to the list including a map of the area around the hotel and another map with directions from JFK Airport to the hotel. The list also included the directions back to the airport and the return flight information. I received an e-mail 24 hours prior to departure reminding me that I was able to check in online, and another four hours prior with gate information and noting that my flight was on time. About an hour before flight time I received an alert of a gate change. Should they occur, they would also send alerts of last-minute changes, delays or cancellations. On multi-segment flights you would receive a notice about connecting between flights. (Messages can be sent by e-mail, SMS or both). You are also able to export your trip information from TripIt onto your calendar and share your travel information with others. If there's mutual agreement, you can share with other users of the service automatically whenever you or they travel. All of your trips are maintained in your account until you delete them, so you're able to get details and summaries of your past travels. TripIt Pro costs $99 per year (or $49 if you sign up before the end of July). A more basic version that omits the alerts and some other features is free. While TripIt can't take all the hassles out of travel, particularly the surprise airline fees, and the security and flight delays, it's welcome help for frequent travelers, who certainly could use some relief these days. Phil Baker is the author of From Concept to Consumer published by Financial Times Press. He has developed and marketed consumer and computer products for Polaroid, Apple, Seiko and others, holds 30 patents and is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Phil's blog is blog.philipgbaker.com and his Web site is philipgbaker.com. This column first appeared in the San Diego Transcript and is reprinted with its permission.


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