Tripit! Master Your Itinerary with Emerging Social Travel Tools
If you’ve ever had to schedule a business trip you know you can be deluged by confirmation e-mails for every detail, including flights, hotels, and car rentals. God help you if you have multiple destinations! Tripit.com promises to relieve the headaches of travelers by aggregating all the details of your trip into master itineraries, available to be shared with friends, accessed by SMS text messages and supplemented with additional information like weather, google maps, and more!!
Travel is one of the biggest users of e-commerce, there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the field. Sites like Orbitz or Expedia offer bulk booking of cars, hotels and flights, but they can’t possibly account for all details on the trip. Tripit.com was created by the brains behind Hotwire.com, Gregg Brockway, Scott Hintz and Andy Denmark, based on frustration by overload of travel itineraries and lack of a centralized repository for them.
It’s really this easy…
After signing up for an account, you simply forward any trip itineraries to email@example.com. The Tripit “Itinerator” analyzes the e-mails and constructs a Trip Plan (a master itinerary) with all your related travel bookings.
Then, the Itinerator searches the web for information related to your destination, like google maps, weather, and city guides (including Flickr pictures).
TripIt supports bookings from business travel sites like Expedia Corporate, Orbitz for Business, Travelocity Business, Cliqbook, GetThere, Travelport, Sabre VirtuallyThere, and many major corporate travel agencies. TripIt also has the ability to process attached PDF files and to follow links to sites that display your booking details online.
I’ve thrown several different types of information at it and so far it’s gotten everything right (and tripit also asks you “how accurate were we?” so they are working to make the scraping algorithms better).
Once the trip is entered into your account, you’ll see the Tripit has several links to help you, like a link to seatguru.com to get recommendations on which are the best seats per airplane.
Sharing Trips With Friends
Tripit does not yet have official “social integration” a la Facebook yet. Tripit offers “MyNetwork” that you invite your friends to join. They can then view when your trip information. However, I prefer to use the calendar integration feature instead. I allow iCal to get my Tripit feed, then my friends just subscribe to my calendar feed. If you invite five friends and they join, then you can use a feature called “Who’s Close,” where you can see which friends are closer than 20 miles to you at any given time.
Get Mobile Access To Trip Information
Just go to tripit.com! All the details of your trips are magically smushed into one neat little package. But – what if you are stuck on the road and don’t have access to a computer? Use TripItToMe. With just a few command words you can have your flight number or other information sent to you through an e-mail on your phone.
Other Goodies In Development
They are not promoted on the front page yet, but digging in the FAQ I found some other features:
TripClipper: a way of bookmarking sites of interest for your trip. There is even a little add-on for Firefox browsers that will add bookmarks. So if you’re planning a trip to Europe, you can start adding stops of interest to your TripPlan, even if you haven’t booked it yet.
TravelGuide: on the trip plan page there’s link to a TravelGuide page. On it is information about your destination city, including pictures pulled from Flickr (I’m guessing by pictures with tags from the destination?) There is also a link to a site called “eventful.com” but currently it only wants to pull up events from my “home” location, not from the destination city.
Well this all sounds very nice but are there any glitches?
Tripit in its current form isn’t able to do any dynamic trip updates, since its information is statically provided through e-mail scraping. This isn’t tripit’s fault. It would need code access to all airlines, car rental and restaurant booking software in order to provide this.
There are some small automation/personalization issues. For example, there are links on the trip page to go to the airline to check flight status and check in, but when I get there I find it hasn’t supplied the site with my flight information, so I have to type it in again. Maybe I’m just spoiled but these are small things that could improve my experience with the site.
What if desperately need the whole world to know where I am at all times?
Well, you wouldn’t use a hammer to turn a screw, right? Tripit.com is an intinerary aggregator, and it’s a fantastic one. It provides trip sharing and iCal integration to let friends and fellow travelers keep abreast on your travel plans. But if you want blow by blow broadcast of your travel movements, what you need is a social notification site. Although you could use a basic one like Twitter or Dodgeball (now owned by Google), there are a few social notification sites you can check out.
Dopplr.com: Dopplr is specifically a travel notification site. Once you sign up for an account, you enter trips (manually), and then invite “fellow travelers” to share their trips. You can see which friends are traveling and where they are traveling to. A nice feature is that you can also see people in your “network” of travelers, like friends of friends. Dopplr also has Facebook integration in the form of a badge that appears on your profile page. Personally, I’m not sure I’d want just anyone viewing when I’m gone on a trip – hello opportunistic home invaders!
Plazes.com: Plazes is a direct competitor to Dodgeball, one of the first social notification services around. With Plazes, you can use SMS messages to let friends know where you are (basic), but it also has cool tools like a Map widget and integration with Google Earth, both of which show not only where you are, but where you’ve been. If you’re afraid of being tracked by the man then plazes is NOT for you. But for the rest of us who are broadcast junkies, this it the coolest thing since sliced bread toasted.