Category Archives: Technology

New HelloTel App

HelloTel-MessagesI received news about a new travel app that I would be interesting to share and hear what fellow travelers had to say about it. It’s called HelloTel and it’s designed to help you virtually meet fellow guests at or nearby your hotel – even before you arrive.

It’s like an inner social network.

Here’s the description: After registering with HelloTel, as a member you can check in to your hotel and then start interacting with other travelers who are in a specific area post photos and status updates. Comments can be posted and direct messages can be sent to the original poster.

Offhand, I can see how this app can be helpful if you’re on a business trip or going to a conference or convention. There’s a set up option where people traveling for work can categorize their posts as “Business.” Or you’re a true road warrior.

HelloTel-MenuFor personal travel, I might be shy about using it unless maybe I’m on a group tour or something similar. But, on the flip side, for someone going solo who is nervous or wants to get acquainted with fellow tour group members (there are tour companies that have their own setups to) or maybe going to a community event like TBEX or other travel conferences worldwide.

As the for Hotel in HelloTel app, its backend is said to be able to schedule hotel amenities such as VIP services or restaurant reservations. Right now, an iPhone version of HelloTel is available; for Android, it comes out next month.

5 Reasons for Going to the New York Travel Festival

Got bit by the travel bug? Want to see more places but not sure where to go next? Then spend next weekend (April 26 and 27) at the New York Travel Festival, to learn more about seeing around the world from those who are already doing it.

At this two-day event in NYC, the who’s who of experts in both consumer and industry travel will be on hand to give straight-up advice minus the sales pitch. The festival opens on Saturday, April 26, at Bohemian National Hall, at 321 E 73rd Street, and then on Sunday, April 27, switches over to Hostelling International-New York, at 891 Amsterdam Ave.


To firm up your travel plans, here are five good reasons for going to NY Trav Fest:

1) Have One-on-One Time
Seeking personal travel advice? An “Experts’ Corner” gives NY Trav Fest ticket holders the chance to pre-schedule brief meetings with participating experts. This college of travel knowledge will cover just about every destination (including Antarctica) and travel type (family, solo, budget, gay-friendly). Experts include “Nomadic Matt” aka Matt Kepnes; adventure filmmaker/TV host Ryan Van Duzer; Tawanna Browne Smith of “Mom’s Guide to Travel”; and Associated Press travel reporter Scott Mayerowitz.8701129516_a423200acd_z

2) Let’s Be Technical

From apps to maps, technology keeps changing how we travel. Mostly for the better. Open to everyone, “Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF” is a special daylong seminar with sessions highlighting the direction that travel tech is heading. Talks will focus on how mobile and social media are influencing travel such as one led by Google employees Ting Ting Yan and Sarah Robinson. Held in conjunction with Travel 2.0, a networking group for travel startups, innovation and technology, “Travel 2.0 @ #NYTF” will also welcome area travel startups that will showcase their products and services as well.


3) Get Down to Business
From travel agents to tourism board members, Saturday’s portion of NY Trav Fest will have specific content just for you. In industry-only tracks, learn more about hot business topics and trends on improving business and customer relations. Masterclasses and workshops also are part of the weekend format, with sessions also covering the professional side of travel. Learn how to market your brand wise or get better at reaching out to niche markets. Bring along extra business cards, as Saturday ends with an industry/media networking reception.


4) Listen to Travel Innovators
Sunday’s program will welcome two world travelers that have made names for themselves yet still want to help others travel too. At noon, Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every country in the world, will deliver the Sunday keynote. Then at 4 p.m., Bruce Poon Tip, founder of the tour company, G Adventures, will tell how “Transformative Travel” has made him the entrepreneur he is today.


5) Find Inspiration
Need more? During a session called “Travel Babel,” attendees will be able to hear neat stories from travelers – either in person or through a pre-recorded video – who will describe what was their A-Ha moment on the road. As every traveler’s story has a beginning and the journey goes off in many directions, there will be plenty of tales to tell. And with breaks throughout both days and a closing party on Sunday night, go ahead and swap stories with fellow attendance.

For a complete weekend schedule, visit All ticket holders receive discounts on NYC tours offered before, during and after the festival by a selection of New York City–based tour companies in partnership with the NY Trav Fest.

Ticket prices are as follows:
Consumer Weekend Ticket: $45 in advance ($60 at the door)
Industry Weekend Ticket: $100 in advance ($150 at the door)
Sunday only: $15
For tickets, visit

Editor’s note: I am on the Planning Committee for the 2014 New York Travel Festival. Photos courtesy of the New York Travel Festival.

Getting a ‘Peek’ at New Mobile Travel App

As there is an app for just about any need or interest, the travel sector surely is getting its fair share. The latest one to travelers as well as the general public comes from, a one-stop web resource for booking activities in 17 U.S. cities, London and Paris.

iphone-home-10085c336cf6aa025177347f91392af6Called Peek Mobile, this free app brings’s services from the web to your smartphone, with some additional functions. It’s said to have geo-location technology, which in plain speak means users can book their activities on the go. Options extend to family, food and wine, arts and culture, adventurous and walking and sightseeing tours and day trips.

For example, if you wanted to book a guided walking tour of the Lower East Side while visiting New York City, you can do so through Peek Mobile app. Or while staying in Paris, explore the city’s different arrondissements  (city districts) or go ahead and jaunt out to Champagne, the vineyard region where this bubbly beverage is produced.

peek_logo-78d7643b983ca8d3712ddc3e4ac26e48Booking through your phone is designed with ease in mind. It’s designed to provide information about your potential activity in real time, with essentials like pricing and available slots. And feedback from others who did what you want to do – or just to help you confirm your decision – is also at your fingertips.

Plus, the fact that the Peek Mobile app is free is also a good reason for giving it a try. It is available for iPhone and iPod Touch and can be downloaded through Apple’s App Store.

So what travel apps do you like to use? Let me know in the comments section!

Umbria Tourism Goes Tech with MultiMedia App Launch

photo-22Known as the “green heart of Italy,” Umbria is symbolized by food, wine, ceramics, history and culture. It’s also quite picturesque, as this central and landlocked region is noted for its scenic character with rolling green hills and historical towns like Assisi.
To better market its visual appeal, Umbria’s tourism board has taken a tech savvy approach that connects old-world traditions with modern-day applications. At a June 3 reception at Eataly in New York City, representatives unveiled English versions of UmbriaApp, a collection of roughly 20 apps using a multimedia storytelling approach to showcase the region’s offerings.

During the reception, officials described the process of creating the UmbriaApp line as a  “imaginary bridge” between Umbria’s past and future innovation, in terms of shaping the direction in which tourism hopes to go.

photo-21As of this writing, the English apps will be released first for iPad, with versions for iPhone and Android to follow shortly. Italian versions are currently available. Developed by Sesinet Snc, an Italian company, all apps are free and can be downloaded through iTunes.

Varying by subject, apps cover art and history museums, festivals, bike tours and particularly food and wine.

One of the new apps that is quite appetizing is “Umbria Enogastronomia.” This culinary app is a virtual cookbook on Umbria’s authentic wines and cuisine, covering the region’s meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables. Users can also replicate a taste of this region in their kitchen by browsing through the app’s range of recipes, complete with photos, ingredients, and preparation notes.

The unveiling at Eataly kicked off “Umbria Week 2013,” a week-long roster of activities in Manhattan from June 3 through June 8 that serves as a precursor to a “Sensational Umbria,” a month-long celebration scheduled for November.

In highlighting Umbrian cuisine, samplings of traditional dishes such as lentil soup (with its recipe included in the culinary app) and pesce crudo were offered. Tastings provided by Goretti Winery in Perugia, Umbria’s capital, complimented the evening.