How smartphones and apps are changing business travel

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Nowadays, the average traveler is apt to use his smartphone at every step of the journey. Say, for example, that you're headed to Singapore on business that will take you out of the country for a week. The first thing you might do is take out your smartphone and plug the travel dates in to see which flight is most affordable. From there, it's just a few taps of the screen until you've booked the flight, paid for your checked luggage and decided between the vegetarian and fish options for dinner.

While you pack, you can use your smartphone to check on the weather in Singapore and decide if you'll be wearing linen or broadcloth to your Monday lunch appointment. Once that's done, you can quickly plan the entire trip in your calendar app, send invitations to clients and email itineraries to the necessary parties. On the day of your flight, it's easy to order an Uber car from your phone, and check in for your flight on the drive to the airport.

When you land in Singapore, a translation app can help you communicate with the Malay taxi driver and the hotel hostess who speaks Mandarin. In addition to these few instances, you'll be using your smartphone at every step of the trip - it's probably the most important gadget you own.

Smartphones can expedite every stop of the travel process.                                           Smartphones can expedite every step of the travel process

Business or pleasure?
The New York Times reported that leisure travelers have long been able to control every aspect of a trip from the device in their pocket, while business travelers are often at the whim of a corporate entity. Because the business traveler has to report his spending and often isn't in complete control of his itinerary, his trip has limitations the leisure traveler never even has to think about. This, however, could change in the near future.

The source reported that future mobile technology trends could make business travel smoother, though it could come at a price. For example, companies could choose to provide a smartphone to its traveling employees that tracks the employee's movements via GPS. Such a system could automatically re-book tickets in the case of a missed flight. It could automatically direct the traveler from the airport to the hotel and then to meeting location. Such technology could even allow  for faster and more accurate expense reporting. At present, all of these capabilities are available separately. What's wanting is a means to bring everything together in one simple package. Until then, companies should develop a mobile strategy that makes travel easier for their employees.

You'll never miss another flight again.                                               You'll never miss another flight again

The top five apps for business travelers
Business travelers can take some lessons from the leisure travel community when it comes to making the experience smoother. By optimizing their travel experience, workers can be more productive when out of the office. They'll also avoid the headaches that come with bad travel planning.

With that in mind, check out the top five business travel apps:

1. iTranslate
iTranslate is an application for Android, iPhones and Windows phones. The site features over 90 languages, so no matter where you're traveling to, you'll be able to communicate more effectively. When traveling to the developing world, it's common to run into situations in which the other person has no knowledge of the English language. Having a translation app makes it easier to communicate with taxi drivers, waiters or airport staff.

2. Skype
Skype can be an invaluable asset when you want to make a call without using your international data plan, which may be significantly more limited  than your domestic plan. Skype allows you to connect with your colleagues back in the U.S. and share information quickly. You can even have an emergency video conference with your remote team should the need arise.

3. GateGuru
Do you often get lost in unfamiliar airports? With GateGuru, you'll never have to worry about that again. This app takes away the worry of missing your connecting flight. It gives you up-to-date information about your flight, the gate of departure and what restaurants are nearby. With this information in your pocket, you'll be super efficient at getting from point A to point B, even if you've never been in the terminal before!

4. Sutro Guides
When you have some downtime on your business trip, you probably don't want to waste it sitting around the hotel. Whether you want to try the local cuisine, see an ancient site or buy a souvenir for your family back home, guides by Sutro will tell you everything you need to know. Unlike review sites, these apps contain information written by trusted professionals. You won't have to waste anytime scanning through crowd-sourced review sites. These downloadable guides give you the information you want so you can get moving.

5. XE Currency
When traveling to a foreign country, it can be hard to determine how much money you're spending. A cup of coffee in London might seem cheap at £4, until you realize that's equivalent to $8. For business people who need to keep track of their spending for expense purposes, an app like XE Currency can take some of the headache out of currency conversions. It gives you live, up-to-date information on currency exchange rates for every country in the world.

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