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7 How to Get the Best Deals On Business Travel

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Image credit: Ack Ook via Flickr

Even with all of the web apps, virtual assistants, and online meeting tools available these days, there are lots of great reasons to get out of the office and out of town to meet face to face.

Meeting and getting to really know the entire team, going to conferences to network and learn, and visiting the facilities of key strategic partners are just a few of the kinds of business activities that require travel.

The travel business has been impacted by the Internet in much the same way that many have been. Travel aggregators and deal sights like Expedia are starting to give way to a new bread of user friendly, socially powered tools that make getting deals on travel much less of a hassle.

Businesses that do any amount of travel can tap these tools to significantly reduce the cost of business travel.

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10 Google's Forecast for Business Apps Is Mostly Cloudy

At the end of last year I wrote a prediction piece for AMEX OPENForum suggesting that 2010 would be the year that small businesses move more computing power online or, using the more trendy term, to the cloud.

boxnetGoogle and Microsoft are both working very hard to create adoption of online versions of the most commonly used software tools such as spreadsheets, word processors and databases.

In my mind Google just took a giant leap forward with the launch of the Google Apps Marketplace. The Apps Marketplace functions much like the iPhone or Android applications marketplaces, but all of the apps found here integrate in one way of another with the existing Google Apps suite of tools. With the additional functionality that can come with integration of tools to do just about anything look for Google Apps to take a giant leap in adoption from both enterprise and small business.

Combine Google Apps and the souped up functionality available in the Apps Marketplace with GMail and Google Calendar and you now have the ability easily run you entire company with software and services in the cloud. Setting up your domain with Google Apps for domains, at $50 per year per user, allows you to create custom white label versions of the Google Apps for a seamless branded experience.

Below are few examples of the types of applications found in the Apps Marketplace.

Time Bridge – makes scheduling of meetings with various staff or even outside vendors much easier.

Expensify – Easy expense tracking and reporting

Survey Monkey – popular survey tool integrates into Google Apps

Cordys Process Factory – helps users of Google Apps to create workflows, automate business processes

TripIt – Share travel details such as hotels and flights with staff

You’ll also find offerings from familiar names such as Intuit, FreshBooks, Vertical Response, MailChimp and Zoho. The online application space is getting very interesting and it still has a long way to go, but the near future have just been defined.

34 My Favorite Tools and Processes to Automate the Routine

Technology can be a great thing when it comes to getting more done. It can also be a way to wall yourself off from real engagement with human beings, but that’s a post for another day.

jottToday I would like to share a handful of tools and the actual processes I employ to get more done with these tools. I think it’s important to set-up routines that allow you to free up time to do the big things, the things that really make you money in the long term, so I don’t use technology so much because I love it, I use it because it allows me to spend more time engaging humans – and that’s where the real money lies.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive review of each of these tools, in many cases I many use one simple function, but that’s the trick sometimes, sifting through the hype about a tool and finding how to make it work for you.

  • Evernote
  • This handy little note taking application works for me because it syncs across offline, online and mobile devices. I am a list maker in the Getting Things Done style and this is my daily to-do as well as my idea pad.

  • Jott
  • Jott allows you to use voice messages to create actions. I call Jott and add appointments to Google Calendar. I call Jott to send an email to my staff or entire network of Duct Tape Coaches while driving down the road. I call Jott anytime I think of something I want to file and remember.

  • Delicious Firefox plugin
  • I’ve used the Delicious bookmarking tool since its inception, but my favorite way to use it is to post content to web pages. When I find a mention of Duct Tape Marketing in the news I right click and add to delicious with the Firefox plugin and use a special tag that produces and RSS feed. I’ve added that feed to a web page and viola! content added through surfing.

  • Central Desktop
  • This is a large and comprehensive tool that I use for my intranet and project management. My favorite process though is that I can email a task to a staff member and Central Desktop adds it to a task list for that person.

  • TripIt
  • TripIt is an online travel itinerary tool. I travel a fair amount and all I have to do is forward air, hotel, and car confirmations to TripIt and the tool builds an itinerary, including maps, local weather and events, and adds them to the mobile app so I can view at a glance. It also pushes out flight alerts for delays and gate changes.

  • Google Alerts
  • Google will send email or RSS alerts for any search term I want to save. I’ve set up a dozen or so terms that track and this tool brings them to my inbox as they happen. This is how I track brand mentions, for example, to use with Delicious plugin.

  • TextExpander
  • This application allows me to create unlimited text, emails, code snippets, etc, and paste them into any application with a few designated key strokes. I have dozens of email responses that are thoughtfully crafted, but used over and over again for questions and requests that come my way often. I have chunks of HTML code that I use over and over again and evoke with five keystrokes.

  • MyBlogLog
  • This is, among other things, a tool that allows me to track traffic to my blog in real time. What I love about it is I can know instantly when someone has linked to my blog and go jump in the conversation, adapt content accordingly and analyze where traffic comes from minute by minute. This may seem obsessive, but I can’t tell you how often I’ve joined a meaningful conversation because I knew about it in real time.

  • TweetDeck
  • This is my Twitter management tool of choice. I use this easily monitor mentions, search terms, hashtags, DMs and lists. Twitter isn’t very useful unless you can do this at a glance. The tool also has all the tools I use to engage in conversations and manage my account. Facebook and LinkedIn status updates are built in as well.

What automation processes and tools have you employed to be more efficient throughout your day?