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 2).
Before I travel to a new city, especially if it is outside the United States, I try to find one or two apps that will come in handy once I’ve arrived. You’d be surprised by the virtual cornucopia of useful apps you can find by simply searching iTunes or Google Play with a city or country name. You can find metro maps, city guides, and other apps that will reduce friction and increase your productivity while traveling. One of my favorite apps is a set of city guides from a company called GuidePal. Integrated offline maps and augmented reality are two of my favorite things!
In Brussels, I met up with my colleague Chris Dancy, and after an incredibly long day of presentations we headed out for dinner. Neither of us had done any research, so we went “old school” and asked the concierge for a recommendation. After all, sometimes you want that Genius Bar type experience with a personal touch. We were handed a paper fold-up map (Chris will swear that it was actually hand drawn on vellum), with an area circled indicating where we could find our (name already forgotten) dinner destination. In the tradition of all tourists that had come before us, we set out PAPER map in hand to find our quarry. After one wrong turn too many, we decided to try the friction-free approach and use an iPhone as our guide. Once we arrived at our destination, we determined that our concierge had sent us to a tourist trap area.
Before mobile apps like Yelp!, we would have been stuck with a stale, out-of-date guide book, or even worse, trying to find a native to give up the secret of his or her favorite local restaurant. Yelp! yielded this information with a few taps—and even though I don’t speak French, I do speak “stars” (as in 4/5 stars and 40+ reviews). Ten minutes later we were seated at a popular local restaurant. A very friction-free (and tasty) experience indeed. The use of location-aware, socially-powered, mobile, easy-to-use technology can go a long way in virtually eliminating friction when you travel.
That said, the real question is why can I fly half way around the world and experience friction-free travel, but I can’t find a conference room or a printer 50 feet away from my office? That, of course, is a post for another day.