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3 web & mobile services that have changed the way innovators travel

Posted by Devin Cole  March 21, 2012 10:07 AM

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Web/mobile have changed small businesses

Two weeks ago, I went to a conference in San Francisco. In planning the trip, my business partner and I used a few well-known web/mobile services to arrange various details. Although these tools are not new to us, and all of these services are available right here in Boston, what struck me is that you really get a glimpse into their value when you use several of them together within the space of a short trip.

I run a startup, so the pressure to save money and maximize value is extra intense. These services are truly changing how we take care of the basic needs for business travel, saving us money and increasing our ability to navigate unfamiliar cities and get the most return on our spend.

For starters, we used AirBNB to book an apartment. The place we got was huge and clean and sunny, and the woman who owned it left us a bag of bagels & cream cheese on the kitchen table as a welcome. The last night we were there, the apartment wasn’t available so I booked a night at the Westin. It was 50% more expensive than the massive, sunny apartment.

For transportation, we used Uber. For a pretty small cost markup, we had immaculate Towncars picking us up within minutes of us notifying them, anywhere in San Francisco. I think the cost of taking an Uber car to the airport was actually the same as taking a taxi.

Now the first morning, we were in our Uber car on our way to the event, and our staff called to see where they should meet us. They didn’t know because, um, they don’t actually work for us. They were individuals who we found via TaskRabbit to help us staff our booth.

We set a rate of $150/day for each person we hired via TaskRabbit. We gave them some simple training on our product and t-shirts with our logo. You could imagine this going badly, I’m sure. But in fact they were smart and friendly, and they staffed our booth with real intelligence and warmth. This allowed us to move around the conference and to take individual meetings with investors and prospective partners. Compare that cost to flying out our own staff and putting them up in hotels.

Think of these services as facilitating fractional purchases. You don’t need to rent an apartment in that other city – just rent it the nights you need it. And, as you’d expect, they all have mobile versions that allow you to manage your usage on the fly. It’s totally transformative. I’d like to hear from other business travelers what apps and services they’re using to help them travel cheaper, smarter and better.

Dave McLaughlin is CEO & Co-Founder of Vsnap, which makes it easy to send short video messages as a more personal alternative to email.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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