lundi 31 mars 2014

Mobile apps designed to help coordinate air travel

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By  March 18, 2014

carte du monde représentant des déplacements de personnes en avion

A number of air travel apps are appearing, designed to enable you to share flight and itinerary information and coordinate group movements, using centralized real-time tools.
Air travel is becoming increasingly popular, especially for frequent business travelers. The US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has reported an increase of around 6% in the number of airline passengers between 2012 and 2013. Meanwhile, trip-organization tools have undergone a revamp in recent years and nowadays people are making widespread use of mobile devices and social media channels. Business lifestyles and the pace of life have also changed and many people now regularly set out on their travels armed with multiple flight schedules involving stopovers, changing planes, plus a variety of other means of transport. Such schedules call for efficient time management and therefore the right systems and tools for the job. Accordingly, information and communication technology companies are now looking to develop innovative solutions to make airline travel easy, convenient and productive. The Gogo app for instance enables users to stay connected throughout their flights on a large number of US airlines. More recently several startups – including TripItFlying and Blujack – have been focusing on managing trips and shared itineraries involving several people.

Centralizing and sharing multi-person schedule data

These apps go way beyond a bare-bones flight organizer tool and are designed to connect colleagues and friends and share trip information in real time. California-based TripIt provides a means of centralizing travel plans on a single platform, ranging from managing the itinerary, to the airline ticket, the hotel reservation and car hire, bringing together all the administrative documents required for a business trip.  You send an e-mail confirmation of your flight ticket to TripIt and will then automatically receive your latest detailed itinerary for each leg of the trip. You can then share the trip data by email or via social networks. San Francisco-based Blujack, which announced its launch during the Launch Festival in San Francisco (24-26 February 2014), works along similar lines – simplifying and centralizing air transport data – but takes a slightly different approach, positioning itself as a collective tool to streamline group travel and make it easier to coordinate and share itineraries. The app brings together on a single dashboard information on who is doing what, and arriving where and when. Travel plan information is thus centralized, updated in real time and divulged only to people on the same trip. Trip participants will receive an alert if the flight is delayed or changed and a dedicated conversation space for participants is incorporated into the newsfeed. Moreover, the information is saved upfront and will therefore be available on your mobile even if you lose Internet connection.

A management tool for companies

Air travel management tools are also useful for companies wishing to keep track of employees and obtain immediate, direct notice of any changes. German startup Flying, which has created an iOS application offering a range of functionality identical to TripIt and Blujack, has just developed an accessory called ‘Flying.display’, a wall screen which connects with a user’s Flying account and displays his/her flights along with those of colleagues or friends from their personal network. A system specifically designed to share flight information certainly has its fun side, but at the same time it underlines the importance of staying connected with your work teams in order to streamline internal company communication and optimize business travel.  From the employers’ point of view, the underlying value of apps such as Blujack is to keep colleagues in close touch throughout their journeys and enable them to organize themselves productively vis-à-vis other staff on the trip. However, coupled with algorithms able to analyze people’s interests, this type of app also has considerable potential in terms of offering services over and above actual flight organization, e.g. recommending trips which match the interests of the given group, reserving accommodation, automatically calling for onward transportation when everyone in the group has arrived, and similar services.

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