In November, I traveled from my home in the Washington, DC metro area to spend a week in Copenhagen and Brussels. This is my story (part 1).
When Cunard coined the slogan “getting there is half the fun,” the shipping company obviously never anticipated the hectic business travel that many of us experience on a (sometimes) weekly basis.
From the moment my trip was planned, I kicked into gear to ensure that I would have a low-friction travel experience. Low friction meaning knowing when and where I would be going, where I would be staying, how I would get there, who I’d be meeting with, and how I’d get home—and all the steps in between.
Here at BMC we use an e-travel vendor to plan our travel. For this trip I was able to chose the best flights to get me from IAD to CPH, from CPH to BRU, and finally from BRU to IAD. My hotels were booked in advance by our events team, so I was locked in on my travel.
Once my trips are ticketed, our IT department uses an automated process of double checking that I have the appropriate calling and data plans attached to my devices—and if I don’t, a service desk ticket is opened automatically for me. Through this process, a huge area of potential friction avoided.
To keep track of my multiple travel itineraries, I utilize TripIt Pro, which automatically syncs my trips with my multiple devices, keeps a copy in cloud, and shares my trip with my wife. TripIt also monitors my trip to keep track of flight statuses, delays, gate changes, etc. This came in handy on my latest trip when Brussels Airlines moved my flight between terminals in Copenhagen—a potentially disastrous interruption was avoided.
Tools like TripIt go a long way in reducing the amount of friction I experience when traveling. I never have to call the airline or stand in line for an agent, and in many instances I have more information available to me than the airline’s employees.
Before I travel to a new location, I check out the destination using Trip Advisor. I am a “Top Contributor” for them and I personally believe that reviews from like-minded users give me the best preview of what I should expect from a hotel, restaurant, or other points of interest. Again, I am removing friction from my travel experience by getting a preview of what to expect when I arrive at my destination. My favorite reviews are the ones that include advice on how to get from the airport to the hotel.
I use an app called UBER to handle ground transportation whenever possible (their mobile technology integration is fantastic). I never have to wonder where my driver is; UBER keeps me updated on that in real time. Then once I arrive at my destination I don’t have to fumble with cash or credit cards since UBER already has that information on file with no additional signature required; instead, I can keep moving. UBER removes friction at each step in the process: no phone calls, no wondering or waiting on transportation, no waiting on credit card approvals, and at the end of the transaction I get to rate the service I received in real time.
I also use airlines’ mobile apps whenever possible. I am mostly a United Airlines flier, and I think they have one of the BEST mobile apps in the market. The app works well, and effectively improves all areas that it covers. Again, no agents, no lines, no friction.
Overall, while getting to a destination may no longer be half the fun, the technologies available to savvy travelers can go a long way in making the experience much more civil.
In my next post, I’ll detail the technologies I use while on my trips and how those technologies can reduce friction. I’ll also explore some of the devices I choose to take on long trips, as well as the technologies that BMC IT provides me to improve my travel experience.