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New App Delivers 1-Night Hotel Deals for Stranded Travelers

Sam Shank

Innovator Sam Shank

Who He Is: “I got bitten by the travel bug late in life,” serial entrepreneur Sam Shank says. He’s certainly making up for lost time. In the past decade, Shank founded the hotel site travelpost.com, and dealbase.com, which compiles online travel discounts. His latest venture, Hotel Tonight, comes to the aid of stranded travelers.

His Big Idea: While on a business trip to Seattle last year, Shank’s plans changed at the last minute and he needed to stay an extra night, so he tried to book something on his phone—a surprisingly difficult process. The result? The free Hotel Tonight app (iPhone/iPad), which instantly delivers three one-night hotel deals per city in different categories and lets you book one in just seconds. The app is available for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., with Las Vegas on the way.

Photo courtesy of Sam Shank

T+L's Best of Europe for iPad!

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All this Royal Wedding chatter got you thinking about your next trip to London? Or maybe it’s the weather forecast in Santorini you’re after (high 60s, scattered showers and possible T-storms until Saturday….) Check out Best of Europe, Travel + Leisure’s latest digital edition for iPad ($1.99), now at TravelandLeisure.com/iPad or on the App Store. The editors of T+L have put together an essential compendium of where to go right now from the Azores to Istanbul, just in time for your summer holiday planning.

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Trend Alert: Hotels Implementing Mobile Concierges

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It’s no secret that the introduction of iPads into the market, just over a year ago, has resulted in the reshaping of how just about every industry imaginable does business. And as I’ve reported before, hotels are no exception to this.

A relatively new trend that I’m seeing on the rise is the use of iPads as personal, portable concierges.

InterContinental’s new Concierge Insider Guides app features more than 120 destinations around the world—all in which one of the hotel chain’s properties can be found, of course.

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Denver Deals via Text

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By now, most cities in the States have developed a mobile app or two to help visitors navigate via their smart phone or iPad. But Visit Denver, the official CVB of the Mile High City, has something even cooler up their sleeve. While many web-savvy travelers are familiar with online deal sites, like Groupon, Visit Denver developed the “Denver Deals” program to deliver deals from area businesses via text message.

While I’m glued to my desk in New York for the moment, I tested out this new program—the first of its kind—to see what they had to offer.

I texted “Denver Deals” to 63638 and within a few seconds my inbox had two new messages:

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Nextpedition: Surprise Vacation Planning

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I've never made a travel itinerary for any trip I’ve taken. Why not? Partly because when I’m on vacation, I like to go with the flow. But it’s also because I don’t really like to spend a ton of time researching. Let’s not forget that half the fun in traveling to a new destination is the excitement that comes from the unexpected.

Knowing there are quite a few folks out there who think similarly, American Express, T+L’s parent company, developed a new booking service it's calling Nextpedition (tomorrow is its grand debut). Primarily targeting twentysomethings, Nextpedition creates trips based on your travel profile. But here’s the catch: you won’t know where you’re going or what you’re doing until the last minute.

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When Words Get In The Way…Of a Google Search

201103-b-google-1jpgEver wished you could hold up a photo to a search engine and say, “Hey computer! Find me this, and make it snappy!”?

With Google Search (free; iPhone, iPod, iPad), a picture is worth a thousand keywords. The newly upgraded app makes it even easier to scour the Web with images straight from your smartphone camera.

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Technology Aboard Cruise Ships

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Gone are the days of heading out to sea and losing all contact with the world. Cell and Internet services are now standard (though free in-room Wi-Fi is not), and some lines have gone even further with their tech amenities. Holland America has introduced a series of classes covering such subjects as digital photography and blogging. And on its October voyage, Crystal Symphony will offer a digital filmmaking workshop, led by BBC producer Michael Rosenblum, that includes instruction on shooting and editing travel videos.

Sherri Eisenberg is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.

Illustration by Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Foursquare’s Most Popular Places for 2010

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Foursquare, a social media tool that encourages users to “check-in” at venues, realized a phenomenal 3,400% growth last year, with 381 million check-ins worldwide.  The company just released a fun infographic that reveals the most popular places in 2010, according to its members’ updates.

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For Travelers: Google's eBookshop

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Imagine if your everyday hardcover book came with rules about where you could read it. Sounds crazy, but in the digital world we hardly bat an eye about similar restrictions. For instance, iBooks titles must be read on Apple devices.

For e-bookworms who love the platform, but could do without the Apple pits, Google just debuted the largest multi-platform cyber-bookshop, Google eBooks, with over 3 million titles (most of which are free). What sets the site apart—and has charmed several top travel publishers—is its quest for open access. Reading materials aren’t tied to a device; they’re stowed in the digital cloud. So, users enjoy limitless storage, as well as compatibility with more than 85 devices, including the Android, Sony Reader, and iPad.

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Best New E-Readers From CES 2011

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We all know about the iPad and Kindle. Whether on the TV, the side of a bus, or a billboard, you can hardly turn a corner nowadays without seeing an ad for the game-changing devices. They’re everywhere. And while I’m certainly not anti-iPad/Kindle (I absolutely love them), I think it’s important for any traveler to know about and consider all available options.

That being said, there were a truckload of tablets revealed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (more than 80!), so I wanted to share a few that I’m most excited about:

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