To quote Mr Billy Joel “the good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems”
Frequently the coverage of new technology tools lament how ‘the good old days’ when people relied on . Well I won’t be looking back to the ‘good old days’ when it comes to my travel plans. My recent trip to Ottawa was the first I did with my full range of technology tools. (iPhone, Laptop, MiFi)
All the reservations notifications and trip details get emailed to my Tripit account which builds a personal itinerary which I can share with friends and family. I then load that on to my iPhone so I’m not printing out all those emails anymore.
While the least new thing, there is no more arriving at the airport 2-3 hrs ahead. While you still need to check your bags, the use of web check in and e-boarding passes makes the experience much less painful. Had a minor issue with the satellite TV on the first leg of my trip. Exchanged messages with @westjet via twitter before I even finished the flight there. While Twitter is a useful tool for customer service I think the culture of Westjet really works with the idea and that’s a little cool. As an example of that culture – see this thank you from the ramp crew in Calgary.
You arrive at the destination airport and you get your checked bags. Then you pull up your hotel address in Google maps and get driving, walking or public transit directions. In the case of public transit in Ottawa OC Transpo has a mobile Web site that provide a trip planner which gives pretty detailed travel directions. Only downside was the text wasn’t really re-sized for the iPhone screensize.
One thing that is customized for the iPhone is that the Museum of Civilization has moved its audio guide onto the iPhone with a free app. You can now download and listen to a guided tour as you view the museum. It is a well done production and even if you aren’t going to be there you get a great feel of what they have. The Museum also offers free Wifi.
Back to Twitter and Google Maps for local recommendations. Local Search does and okay jobs of locating ‘coffee shops’ but for details you need to go to the ‘locals’. The key was to find a way to reach enough people to get an answer. In Victoria the #yyj hastag is in common use, the closest I could get was #ottawa for the capital. It did lead to some local grocery stores and a great coffee house. Alternatively Yelp is still a good source of local reviews but its not always clear that the list there is complete in any given category.
To help things out the Ottawa Airport has free WiFi and the first place I’ve see with USB ports to charge your electronics at the seats in the departure area. The airport is also reachable on twitter at @FlyYOW .
A bit of a knock on the local guys for Victoria Airport not providing free WiFi. I won’t book a hotel without free net access but at least now I have the MiFi and the iPhone for WiFi challenged locations. Both YYC and YOW provide open WiFi for my trip where YYJ didn’t and AIF and parking Victoria got a good chunk of my money.