|by Sean O'Neill||Apps, Helpful Websites, Innovations, Technology||30|
THE PROBLEM: Your loved ones want to follow along "virtually" while you travel, but you don't want to spend your vacation tied to your e-mail and cell phone.
THE FIX: Tap into Facebook's power to update your family and friends automatically. Last fall, Wipolo, a travel dashboard, integrated with Facebook as one of the first free Facebook "apps." Click a button, and this app semi-automatically tells loved ones where you are in your trip. The tool shares your itinerary (from booking confirmation emails that you forward to it) and updates the specific list of friends you select, via their Facebook feeds.
THE PROBLEM: You have an upcoming milestone (like an important birthday) that you would like to celebrate with a vacation. But you need help affording your dream trip.
THE PROBLEM: Getting recommendations for hotels and restaurants at your destination used to be easy: Just post a status update requesting help. But now there is so much clutter in freinds' news feeds that your call for help may go unread.
THE FIX: Add the free Facebook app. Trippy (which launched last September) posts your queries directly on their walls, which is more likely to be read by a Facebook user than random every item on a news feed. Even better, Trippy savvily targets which of your friends might have relevant recommendations. It picks the friends to contact after analyzing all of your friends' public profiles to see if they may know something about your upcoming destination. (Maybe they've taken photo at the destination you're planning to visit, which is a telltale clue.)
One final note: Facebook is a fantastic tool for planning last-minute trips. To get discounts and giveaways to real-time, 11th-hour travel deals, consider "liking" or "friending" travel deal aggregators such as Airfarewatchdog, FareCompare, or Best Travel Deals.
Members of hotel programs can benefit from exclusive Facebook offers by "liking" those company's Facebook fan pages, such as the especially active ones for Hilton HHonors and Starwood. We've seen especially worthwhile offers on the pages of loyalty reward programs in the past month. For example, yesterday, the Facebook page for PriorityClub—the loyalty program for major chains like Holiday Inn and InterContinental—touted a 24-hour sale on hotels, with a dozen properties up to half-off last-minute bookings.
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