a service that United Airlines calls push messaging, Larry Atwell, director of business development for the AT&T Digital PocketNet service and responsible for the travel services channel, might have lost a large chunk of business. “I was in New York City working with a client when I realized I had to cut the meeting short to catch a plane,” he says. “But I checked my cell phone, and found a message from United letting me know that my flight was delayed an hour. I stayed and closed the deal.”
Atwell likes to spread the news about the services airlines offer travelers with wireless technology because they save him time and money. Delta’s e-business division now allows travelers to download the airline’s Electronic Timetable from the Website (www.delta.com) to a PC or a handheld for immediate access to flight schedules. If you need info on other airlines, a new service called NotiFlyer (www.i-tinerary .com) can alert any cell phone, PDA, or PC about airline delays and other real-time travel snafus. To get this information, you’ll need to pack some hardware.
THREE TOP TOOLS
Getting connected means toting one to three essential pieces of hardware to get you through your trips. Open most road warriors’ survival kits and you’ll find one or more of the following tools: a notebook computer, a PDA, and a cell phone.
Novice business travelers tend to overpack, lugging hardware that they may not need. Seasoned travelers usually leave their laptops at home in favor of handhelds, but what they take often depends on the length of the trip. “Laptops can be redundant, so on day trips to San Francisco and Los Angeles, I won’t bring the laptop and instead rely on my Palm Vx and Ericsson 280LxR PocketNetphone (www.ericsson .com),” says Atwell, who travels from his base in Redmond, Washington, two to three days a week. “Any trip over two days, I take the laptop so I can work at night on a larger screen.”
Staying in touch and productive without a laptop requires a PDA or pager, and many road warriors have both. Whichever handheld you choose–the popular ones include Handspring Visor (www.hand spring.com), Sony CLIE (www.ita .sel.sony.com/CLIE), and Palm–make sure you get into the habit of synchronizing information with your laptop or desktop computer. If you prefer the Palm V model, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to carry bulky AC adapters or other multiple and sometimes incompatible syncing devices and power cords anymore. Targus recently introduced the USB Charge-Sync Cable, which serves as a USB/serial cable and an AC/DC adapter ($49.99; 877-4-Targus, www.targus.com).
If you travel frequently to major cities within the United States, consider investing in a wireless data network, such as Ricochet (www .metricom.com), to make travel a better experience. Instead of trying to find a data line in a hopelessly overcrowded airport pay phone area, a wireless modem can deliver 128Kbps Internet speed to laptops and handhelds so connections can be made from the airline gate, a coffee shop, a client site, or