I learned quite a bit hosting the National Car Rental-sponsored Google Hangout discussion of travel and technology earlier in the month. (I also hosted a @NationalPro twitter chat on travel and technology earlier that day.)
National was promoting their new mobile app, of course, which I’ve found to be really functional (and was something on my personal wish list since I rent from National frequently and they hadn’t had an app before).
But what came together was a really good discussion of travel and tech, and the reason I wanted to be involved in the first place was the other folks who were joining — people like JohnnyJet, Chris McGinnis, and Scott Mackenzie in addition to Rob Connors from National.
First off, I was exposed to Google Hangout for the first time, which is a great technology that I spent awhile fumbling through but I’ll probably start using instead of Skype for video chats.
Second, and I already knew this, I hate watching myself babble on camera. I saw the final Colbert Report segment that I did one time (half looking away) and I never re-watched it. I think I came off better there, and when I’ve done CNN, than I did on this. I’d like to think that it’s the technology but I don’t think that’s right, since the other panelists look fantastic.
I really liked learning about some new travel apps, not just National’s.
- I hadn’t paid attention to the Waze app before listening to Chris McGinnis talk about it.
- Scott Mackenzie of Hack My Trip talks about the new Lounge Buddy app which is still in beta and only available for iPhone but suonds like it’ll be quite useful.
And now I’m really looking forward to trying out National’s “Virtual Aisle” at smaller airports without a choose your own car emerald aisle, since there will be the ability to hold a specific vehicle and do it by mobile phone rather than asking an agent to go through what they have available or taking whatever car is offered.
Those of you who joined in for the event, I promise to do better next time! Hah. And if National sends me something of thanks for participating, then expect some sort of giveaway in the near future!
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I can’t say enough good things about Waze for commuting. I’m not sure I’d trust it in a city I am not familiar with, but I’ve battle-tested it in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego and it’s just amazing: the time “arrival” estimates are absolutely perfect. Google gives fine directions but I find the “estimated times” totally bogus. In LA there’s a company called SigAlert that has a great freeway app but it’s a pay service. Waze is free, and the time estimates are the key selling point for me (constantly updating the arrival time).
Also, it’s not for nothing that Google purchased it for 1bn! I expect once google maps are integrated with Waze we’ll have true nirvana. Oh, and warnings about red light cameras and po-lice don’t hurt one bit.