Technology - General
Looking to score a deal on a great hotel? These digital tips and tricks from T+L will ensure you get the best price in the house.
Know the Market
Timing is key. The Web-based price predictor feature on TheSuitest forecasts how room prices are expected to fluctuate for the next month—use it to find the right time to buy in any market. Then cross-check with DealAngel and Bing's Hotel Rate Indicator—both compare quoted rates with a hotel’s average cost, telling you which deals are really worthwhile.
The most frustrating part of planning a trip? Not being able to score the right restaurant reservations (well, for this foodie, anyway). Several city-specific tools have cropped up to serve those of us who are both discerning eaters and poor planners (SoonSpoon.com in Boston; TableSavvy in Chicago; New York’s @LastMinuteEatin’ on Twitter), but today OpenTable is announcing a new program that will take the model coast to coast.
With Hot Tables, OpenTable lets VIP users (those who make at least 12 reservations a year) sign up for alerts when their preferred restaurant is already booked—anyone who has signed up for the alert will get a text message notification the second a table opens up. (In other words, there will still be competition.) Sound a lot like Rezhound? That’s because it is—the independent site had been offering the exact same service without being under OpenTable’s purview, proving just how much demand there might be for an official product.
Priceline’s introducing some exciting new features today—and we’ve gotten a sneak peak at what to expect. Exclusive to users on iPhone and iPad, the upgrade includes a partnership with intelligent fare search Routehappy as well as a location-based hotel search tool. When looking for a place to stay, the Deals Near Me feature will now scan the thirty mile radius around you to find great room discounts in the vicinity—it pulls from Priceline’s entire database, featuring both Express Deals and retail prices. As with any dynamic zone hotel search, this lends itself best to last minute bookings, but don’t count it out as a planning tool—you can manually change your position on the map to anywhere in the world, accessing deals that are say, walking distance from the Prado—and search for reservations months out in the future.
This week, Apple introduced their new CarPlay system, and it’s something of a revolution for road trippers. A follow up to iOS in the Car, which launched quietly last year as a way to have your iPhone screen show up on your in-car dash, CarPlay is set to ship in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo cars any day, with nearly every auto maker following suit by the year’s end (notable exceptions include Fiat, VW, and Chrysler). Included in the release? Full integration via your phone’s lightning port, offering access to Siri, Apple maps, hands-free calling, and text messages through voice commands and in-car controls. One feature we can’t stop thinking about: controlling Spotify (or any other music app) without having to take your eyes off the road.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo courtesy of Apple
If you’re a plugged-in traveler, you likely lean pretty heavily on Google Maps as a planning tool—we sure do. But today, Google is re-launching the service with an impressive slew of new functions that will no doubt change the way you plan and navigate your next vacation. Here, a guide to what’s new and notable:
• Responsive search: Now when you search for a place, Google will subtly glean what type of experience you’re after and flag comparable places for you to consider. For example, search for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and you’ll get what you’re looking for—plus flags for the Frick, the MoMa, and the Whitney nearby. Search for Italian restaurants in Chicago, and the options will shift as you start to poke around (clicking on a pizza joint will trigger Google to flag affordable or casual spots, while clicking on Spiaggia might trigger a slew of high-end, Michelin-starred tables).
Everyone’s going mobile in travel these days—and if you thought you’d heard enough of that already, think again. It’s just the beginning. Proving that is Marriott Hotels, which today launches mobile checkout at all of its 329 hotels nationwide and another 20 international properties (all 500 will be on board later this year). While other hotels and resorts have individually brought mobile checkout to life—I just checked out of the Aria in Las Vegas without even stopping at the front desk—Marriott’s move marks the first brand-wide conversion of its scale, and is no question a signifier of what’s to come for the rest of the industry.
Today, Google Glass got a big makeover. Once a standardized design that said little more than “Look at me—I’m tech savvy!” the frames now come in four new looks, each worthy of a spot in Warby Parker’s lineup. Along with the upgrade is a practical twist, too: the new models can be fitted with prescription lenses, making the frames (which cost $225) eligible for insurance reimbursement. It’s a huge move for the product, which is expected to hit mass market by the end of the year. And as Google gears for the big launch, Glass is kicking it up both with style and substance, introducing a slew of new apps—some perfectly suited for travelers.
Innovations in tech-savvy travel seem to be made every second. In a recent Twitter chat, we asked our panel of experts for the gadgets and apps that will change the way we travel in 2014. Here's what they had to say:
The bitcoin continues to establish itself in the travel industry, with online booking site PointsHound and two Las Vegas casinos joining the growing list of companies utilizing the cryptocurrency this week.
PointsHound, a website which helps travelers book vacations and earn points for their various loyalty programs, will now let users earn their rewards in bitcoins. For example, rather than boosting their AAdvantage points by 3,400 miles, PointsHound users can opt for 0.1093 bitcoins instead when purchasing a night at over 150,000 hotels worldwide. (Those numbers come from booking a $1,124, one-night stay at the T+L World's Best Award winner Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.)
Staying in touch with your loved ones while on a business trip can be tough.
You want to maximize your limited time away, so you get up early, schedule meetings all day, then have a business dinner followed by cocktails. By the time you’re done and get back to your hotel room, your family might be long asleep and you’ve missed a chance to connect.
And that doesn’t even factor in long flights, time zone changes, and cell phone dead zones.
It doesn’t have to be this way.