It happens to lots of travelers. You get to a city and you can't remember what hotel you're staying at or what rental car company you've reserved with. When it's time to fly home, you don't have a clue as to what time your flight leaves.
Of course that wouldn't be a problem if you remember to print out your itinerary before you leave home and manage not to lose those pieces of paper while you're on the road. Another solution, one I use, is to e-mail details about my trip to myself so I can always pull it up via Web mail or perhaps if it's still in memory from my smart-phone's e- mail client.
WorldMate, at worldmatelive.com, has a better idea. The company recently launched its new WorldMate Live service that sends your detailed travel information directly to a BlackBerry. Support for other smart-phones and, eventually some regular cell phones, is expected in the future.
When you sign up for the free service, you download a plug-in for Outlook on your PC as well as an application for the BlackBerry. The Outlook add-in lets you automatically sync appointments and travel information to the company's server, which in turn pushes it to the BlackBerry.
The Outlook plug-in is able to recognize confirmation e-mails from Travelocity, Orbitz and several airline Web sites so you won't have to type in travel information. It won't currently work with Expedia but you can always enter your schedule into the company's Web interface.
The company's new service also includes what Vice President Ian Berman calls a "guardian angel," which keeps an eye on such things as flight cancellations and delays. Because it knows your itinerary, it's able to notify you immediately if there is a change. If the flight is canceled, it displays a list of alternative flights. It can't yet book a new ticket, but that's part of the company's long-term goal, according to Berman.
The service is integrated with BlackBerry maps which comes free on most BlackBerries and enables users to plot their day's activities on a map to navigate to meetings.
Because the company lets you download a client to the BlackBerry, the interface is very clear and clean. It's a lot easier than using a Web site on a small screen, and the information is stored on your BlackBerry, so it's accessible while you're in the air or otherwise offline. I used the service when I traveled to San Diego for last week's DemoFall conference. It came in handy when I needed to quickly locate my hotel's address, and I appreciated the automatic flight updates pushed to the Blackberry, which, in this case, thankfully informed me that my flights were on time.
Some of the services, such as tracking your itinerary and general information including weather and currency rates are free, but the flight alerts and real-time alternative flight schedules cost $10 a month or $100 a year.
A syndicated technology columnist for over two decades, Larry Magid serves as on air Technology Analyst for CBS Radio News. His technology reports can be heard several times a week on the CBS Radio Network. Magid is the author of several books including "The Little PC Book."
By Larry Magid