It just a week-and-a-bit before I arrive into San Francisco for the BlackBerry DevCon event. I’m in Houston first, followed by New York, before flying into the Valley. So that means I’ve been doing the usual jiggery-pokery with hotels and flights. In many cases, I’ve been lucky enough to have a colleague or agency take part of some of the scheduling and booking. In other cases, I’ve sorted it out myself.
Mid-way through I thought I should really try out BlackBerry Travel properly. I’ve had a wee look previously but I’ve not really had the opportunity to use it in anger since the new Bold 9900 arrived.
It was about time.
BlackBerry Travel is a key offering on the platform — just like Facebook and Twitter. It’s a ‘super-app’ — that is, it makes full use of the device capabilities including calendar and messaging integration.
And it’s magic!
Perhaps the most challenging element of business travel nowadays is juggling everything and having the right information at your fingertips, *all* of the time. My schedule next week is a good example. I’m on 6 different flights, 4 different hotels, 3 cities. Trying to keep all the booking numbers and timings in order gets challenging. You end up having to print stuff out and place it in chronological order just to make sense of it all. Not any more.
Once activated on your phone (and entirely free of charge), BlackBerry Travel scans your inbox. The moment it comes across a booking record email — or any of those long complicated corporate travel confirmation emails, it springs into action. It’s really fast. The app parses the email and extracts all the relevant bits and builds a trip for you.
Now, I knew this. I’m sure I’ve actually had a briefing on this too. But seeing it in the flesh, using it in anger? Amazing.
The first part of my upcoming journey to be confirmed by email were the outbound flights. The email arrived and almost simultaneously, I received a prompt in my inbox from BlackBerry Travel telling me that it had added them.
I clicked through. And, I’m delighted to say I was stunned. Boom! There was the flight schedule and ticketing information organised beautifully. The app then pointed out that although I was due to arrive into Houston on the 10th, I didn’t have any accommodation arranged. Would I like some help with that, asked the app?
Geez! Yes. I clicked. Boom! Again! All of a sudden I saw a list of available hotels along with prices in my local currency. Unfortunately I couldn’t book them as that was being done for me via another email.
When that booking was made — woosh — the BlackBerry Travel app was updated immediately, now with all the relevant hotel details.
Plus, my device calendar now has the various flight details programmed in. Excellent.
My week has continued like this. As another booking is and received by my email, it’s automatically integrated. So now I have a beautiful itinerary on my phone. Hugely, hugely valuable.
I’ve hooked it up to LinkedIn so it helpfully tells me who amongst my network is nearby at the particular locations in my itinerary. Yelp is also directly integrated too so finding restaurants and the like is that bit easier.
Plus, weather is integrated as well. Useful, because it looks like it’s going to be rather hot in Houston.
I’m seriously impressed.
You’ll no doubt have seen similar from the likes of TripIt (which I also use) however the super-tight and seamless integration with BlackBerry Travel is nothing short of astounding. When I think of the amount of hassle I’ve had to go through in the past writing all this stuff down or printing sheet-after-sheet and placing it all into a special plastic cover.. I’m simply delighted with the app.
If you’re a BlackBerry user and you travel regularly, I strongly recommend taking a look and trying it out.
You can find out more at blackberry.com — you’ll get it on any modern BlackBerry.