The more you travel, the more you probably dread creating travel itineraries. Imagine the aggravation. It's late the night before yet another business trip. You have to gather scattered information at the last minute - flight information in email attachments, conference details from one website and maps from a different one. The fact that it is easy to confuse your itinerary with your many other trips adds to the frustration. You shouldn't have to go through this, you tell yourself. The stress of zipping through each segment of your trip or fighting the discomfort of a redeye flight should be enough. In this moment, inspiration strikes you, “Hey, there should be a website to make this process easier”.
Well, there is. TripIt is one such website that serves this purpose beautifully and does some other cool stuff, too. TripIt's core feature is the ability to accept emails with travel/booking information and then use that information to automatically populate the user's itinerary. I'll provide an example: Say you just booked an Amtrak ticket to New York. You can then forward your confirmation email from Amtrak to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have already created a "New York trip", then based on matching dates and keywords, TripIt will add the Amtrak ticket to your "New York Trip" itinerary. You are able to shift around information if TripIt adds things to the wrong place, although TripIt has an uncanny ability to get things right.
In addition to their own technical innovations, TripIt increases its value by following the trend of integrating with third party apps. First, it integrates nicely with Google Maps, which allows the user to estimate ground travel directly from the trip itinerary. Furthermore, the trip itinerary links to the airline websites which allows the user to quickly check flight status. TripIt's My Travel application with LinkedIn allows users to see where their network is traveling so they can make advance plans to catch up with friends or colleagues. Finally, though certainly not the last nor the least of TripIt's features, just this month, TripIt launched an iPhone app which can suggest alternative flights if your flight gets canceled.
Of course, no site is perfect so here is my own personal wishlist for improvements to the site.
- • Integration with WMATA (The Authority for the DC Metro system). Unfortunately, TripIt doesn't accept any subway or bus itineraries at this time, even in major cities.
- • Add an Administrative Function. TripIt is clearly intended for personal use, however, as Phase2's Staff Assistant, I find it useful to manage travel for multiple people. It would be great if I could organize each trip by the traveler.
- • Create a Multi-Day option for Trip Meetings. Right now you can add "notes" to your travel itinerary which I find useful for storing basic conference info near the travel information. However, these “notes” don’t really integrate into the intinerary. It would be useful to add multi-day events to your itinerary in order to better visualize your schedule.