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Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio February 2001 Current Issue
February 2001 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F. Braley


Palm-based devices now deliver all the travel information you need

Travel agent in hand. Two new applications for wireless Palm-based devices aim to ease troubles of the business traveler. In December, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based i-tinerary Travel Solutions introduced the mTravel Assistant, which reportedly replicates the thought process and activity of a professional agent.

Downloadable from www.i-tinerary.com, the software allows users to make flight, hotel and car reservations; cancel reservations; look up fares and flight schedules in real time; automatically import travel times and dates into the handheld’s calendar, and filter travel selections through personal preferences and corporate policy.

Once travelers have booked a hotel, they can use HOTELINMYHAND from Hong Kong-based Pertlink (www.pertlink.net). Participating hotels can e-mail the traveler a file with their guest services directory and details on local places of interest, or properties can make the information available for download from their Web site. E-coupons may be included.

A version for handhelds using the Windows CE operating software will be ready soon. Future features being developed include the ability to make appointments such as dinner reservations at the hotel, spa treatments and salon services.

PC-based assistance. For desktop travel planners, a free download called SideStep (www.sidestep.com) uses any criteria to search 80 Web-based travel sites for the best deals on flights, rental cars and hotel rooms, including Internet-only specials. Planners can then sort the information for easy evaluation. Once an itinerary has been chosen, SideStep takes users directly to the supplier’s booking page.

A demo is available at the Web site of US Airways (www.usairways.com), which partnered with SideStep in December. “When we first announced our 12-part customer service commitments in late 1999, one was to ensure that we were giving people the lowest fare possible,” says US Airways spokesperson David Castelveter. “SideStep does that. We recognize people might end up booking away from US Airways through our own site, but customers will have greater assurance that they are getting the best fare.”

Financial news fix.. Fans of The Wall Street Journal will be happy to learn that NewspaperDirect, a provider of print-on-demand newspapers at various hotels, has partnered with Dow Jones & Co. to distribute the Journal, The Wall Street Journal Europe and The Asian Wall Street Journal. Same-day editions of the newspaper will be available at select Kempinski, Radisson SAS, Hilton and Sheraton international properties, as well as on Holland America cruise line.

Time travel. Road warriors sporting the innovative new watch from France-based LaCrosse Technology (www.lacrossetechnology.com) never need to reset it from time zone to time zone. The $69.95 Atomic Digital Watch is radio controlled, automatically tuning into the official standard frequency and time transmitter in North America (who knew there was one of those?). To find out the exact time in your zone, go to www.time.gov, a site jointly maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Web site gets physical. Expedia.com has stepped from the virtual into the real world. In December, the online travel site opened Expedia.com Café in San Jose International Airport. Bethesda, Md.-based concessions operator HMSHost is running the establishment, where travelers can hook their laptops up to phone jacks and power outlets to recharge batteries and access the Web while enjoying fare from Bay area staple Max’s Restaurants. The opening of other Expedia.com Cafés is under consideration.

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