You rely on your BlackBerry to be your partner in crime on a daily basis. Well, hopefully not while your actually committing a crime- that’s a biiiig no-no. The point is that you can always look to it to tell you what’s on your calendar, who is contacting you and where to go. When you’re on the road, who else do you look to in order to keep in touch with who you’re meeting and who you’ve left behind?
Back in February, App World saw the release of the ultimate travel agent you can fit in your pocket- BlackBerry Travel. It takes you to the next step in travelling with your BlackBerry (hence the name). In between BBM and email, you can switch to BlackBerry Travel to help from the planning phase all the way through to the end of your trip. This includes currency conversion, flight information and hotel details. It’s all about empowering the Power Traveller, whether it’s for business or pleasure. With this application, even business trips will be much more pleasurable with the knowledge that your itinerary is safe and sound within your BlackBerry. Pack your bags- we’re taking a trip through BlackBerry Travel.
Next stop, my BlackBerry
The BlackBerry Travel application was recently updated to version 1.0.341.99. You can experience a sense of familiarity when using BlackBerry Travel. It’s no coincidence – the application actually takes some “inspiration” from WorldMate. RIM and WorldMate came together to present this as a Super App, as they call it. Currently, BlackBerry Travel is available to BlackBerry users in Canada, the US, the UK and Spain. The application claims that you need to be running OS 5.0 or higher, but also lists the original Curve (83xx) as a compatible device. BlackBerry Travel has a file size of just over 3 MB, but you are asked to have at least 4mb of space available.
This application has a quite a substantial number of features within it, so hang on. The main menu gives you access to the majority of the options. This menu consists of three stationary buttons at the bottom, (access to My Trips, Booking and Services) as well as 4 different views to scroll through (Upcoming Trips, visiting LinkedIn connections, Hotels and a 5 day Weather forecast for your destination).
I couldn’t believe how intuitive this application was. It includes a sync option with which any messages you have in your BlackBerry are sorted through and emails containing travel information are then exported into BlackBerry Travel. Rather than simply listing what each section does, it may be easier to walk through the trip planning process, in order to see the magic.
Trips can be created by selecting either the My Trips button or clicking on ‘Plan a New Trip’ from the Upcoming Trip view. Alternatively, the application will automatically create a trip when it notices a travel confirmation email hits your messages. The steps taken to create a trip entry are pretty straight forward. You are prompted to enter a destination, trip start and end dates, a name (the Blundells bound across the border!) and sharing options with your LinkedIn connections. As you type the destination, the app will automatically try to find a match. Once saved, you are brought back to home screen. The Upcoming Trip view will then reflect the changes. Wait a minute – the Flight, Hotel and Car details are blank...and it’s telling me I’m missing an accommodation entry (for 5 nights to be exact). Let’s fix that by accessing the itinerary and services. You can do this by selecting the trip.
When performing a flight search, origin and destination cities can be selected by entering the city name or airport code – keep in mind that you are not actually booking a flight, so don’t expect to hop on a plane with your BlackBerry alone. The search results are displayed with flight numbers and departure/arrival times. Depending on preferences, this list can be sorted by arrival time, departure time or duration. BlackBerry Travel will monitor selected flights for any update, (delays, etc) as well as display information on the flight details (terminal, gate, eTicket, and confirmation numbers and aircraft information).
A trip isn’t complete without a warm bed to sleep in. Time to book a hotel (yes, actually book). Hotels will be listed with images, star rating, and starting rates. By clicking on a hotel, you can view additional pictures, map info, hotel policies and facility information. Searching is easy, picking is not so much – but the app has some awesome methods to help you out. Sorting and filtering options enable you to slim down the “pickins” by Top Picks, pricing, star ratings and by distance from a specific point in the destination city (which is provided for you by the application). So in Seattle, I can find a hotel that is closest to the Husky Stadium or the Frye Art museum. BlackBerry Travel will remember the days you picked for your trip and will use it in helping you choose between types of accommodation and view rates. Each room option has a book now button which brings you to a screen with the total price (including taxes and fee) of the hotel booking. At this point you can proceed with the booking, or call the phone number provided. BlackBerry Travel can also handle keeping track of car rental or any other types of ground transportation. It doesn’t book it, but it acts as a quick reference guide to booking numbers, car type, address and such.
On top of this, BlackBerry Travel has a simple weather application, so you know whether to pack shorts or snow shovels. It cannot compete with the like of applications such as BeWeather, but you can see a 5 day forecast of the city of origin and destination city.
With access to LinkedIn, you can see if there are any connections in the city you are travelling to, or if any are visiting you city. You can also post status updates or find LinkedIn connections in specific cities. The application also (whew) includes local search options for restaurants, shopping and nightlife (karaoke!!). Yelp ratings, mapping (BlackBerry and/or Google maps) and additional details can be accessed. Contact number, categories and sorting options are also present. Depending on where you are travelling to, it is handy to know currency conversion. It’s also handy that this app can do currency conversions. It can display the rates for up to 3 different countries simultaneously. Dozens upon dozens of places can be searched through. I tell you, this beats sorting through messages, calendar appointments and memo pad entries any day.
BlackBerry Travel has almost become my travel agent, almost. It only has a portrait view – no landscape view available for would-be travellers. While I can check out flights and times, I cannot view prices. That makes it more difficult to determine when I want to book for. Other than that I was quite satisfied with the functionality it offers. If they could somehow get access to a lot of the discounted rates one could find online, I would be even happier. Depending on your needs, it beats paying for a gold subscription of the actual World Mate Live application (pssst they practically look the same too). You can pick up BlackBerry Travel for Free from BlackBerry App World
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