Business trips possess unique pressures. In addition to fulfilling challenging professional responsibilities, business travelers must also secure travel reservations, book lodging, locate acceptable dining and possibly entertainment options, and navigate transportation and transit systems, including flight delays and cancelations, in sometimes unfamiliar and congested regions.
Apple's OS X Maps app, which is often used only for driving directions on the iOS platform, has a number of features that, when leveraged on a Mac, can assist and simplify business travel.
1: Create contacts
Before embarking on a business trip, you can save a lot of time and cut down on stress by creating a Contact for the hotel where you'll be staying with the hotel's street address and telephone number, should the commute from the airport or tollway prove problematic.
To create a hotel Contact, open Maps, enter the name of the hotel where you'll be staying within Maps' search field and select the appropriate entry. (Note: The more information you provide, the better Maps can return targeted results—e.g., there are multiple Roosevelt hotels but only one in New Orleans.) Next, click the Share This Map icon to the immediate right of the search field and select Add To Contacts, make any customizations to the Contact card you wish, and then click the Done button.
2: Enable Calendar operation
When booking hotel, restaurant, and flight reservations, add the time, date, and location information as Calendar entries. Maps provides the location information within Calendar for airports, hotels, restaurants, meeting venues, and other sites, enabling quick map access and directional information from within a Calendar appointment.
Again, because Macs offer full keyboards and proper pointing devices, it's easier using a Mac to customize Calendar entries and add additional information. Calendar also assists in creating these entries. For example, if flight or hotel email confirmation messages exist within Mail, Calendar can create corresponding events using the date, time, and travel information (including flight data) found within those confirmation messages. Just click Calendar's Inbox icon and review entries within the Found In Mail section and click the corresponding Ignore or Add To Calendar buttons to perform the preferred action.
3: Go 3D
Before you depart for your trip, look at the locations of your hotel and any restaurant and meeting locations to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. Review the surrounding areas, distances, and transit and walking options to help ensure you're prepared and to hopefully avoid surprises when you arrive, and transit schedules, traffic, and deadlines all conspire to complicate a trip.
Fortunately, Maps offers a 3D view that makes it easier to familiarize oneself with buildings' locations, roadways, neighborhoods, and nearby landmarks, as well as all of these elements' relationships with one another. Because Macs boast larger screens, processing power, and proper trackpads and mice, it's easier to manipulate these map views to study destinations, for which notes can always be forwarded to an iPhone or iPad using the Share This Map icon and the subsequent Send To options.
To enable 3D views, click the 3D icon in the bottom right corner of Maps. You can also select Show 3D Map from the drop-down menu in Maps' lower left corner. Zooming in and out and rotating views using your fingers on a trackpad helps ensure you're no stranger to new lands when you arrive.
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4: Leverage directions
You probably know how to use Maps' turn-by-turn directions when driving from point A to B, but you may be unaware that Maps also provides step-by-step walking directions. And, in supported markets, Maps also provides transit information. By clicking the Directions button, you can enter start and end locations, then click the Walk tab. Maps then displays turn-by-turn walking directions for a suggested route that includes distance and time estimates.
A Mac's full keyboard and full-size pointing devices simplify the process of identifying suggested walking (and in supported markets transit) routes that can all be forwarded to an iPhone or iPad using the provided Share This Map icon and subsequent Send To option.
5: Assist colleagues
When traveling with others, if you've already scoped restaurant locations, hotels, and other destination information, Maps makes it easy to share this information with your fellow travelers. When you have the location information open in Maps, click the Share This Map icon and select the Messages or Mail options to forward the Maps information via those methods. If a colleague is standing near you awaiting the information, you can also leverage the AirDrop option available from the Share This Map menu.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.