Here’s travel help that caught my attention after reading Neil’s post “GPS Platforms Help Working Girls in the Night.” That Neil. Although this service I read about isn’t exactly like GPS in your shoes, the idea is kind of the same–well, not exactly, but kind of. The company 1-800-INACITY is to help travelers who are stuck in a bind, or maybe not stuck, but need some help to find lodging, a neat place to eat or other travel related info. The only thing you need is a telephone.
Steve Stephens, the travel editor for the Columbus Dispatch, wrote an article that gives the specifics, but here’s the main idea behind how it works. Let’s say you were me a few years ago and left Columbus, Ohio at 7 PM thinking that you’d be able to find a place to stay in Wheeling, West Virginia on your way to New York City. But, no, all hotels were full. So you motored on, still confident. At every exit that listed motels, you pulled off with high hopes. Still nothing. Finally, at 5 am, there was a vacancy near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. You had to stop here because driving on had become impossible. You were driving with your mother who could go no further and just four hours of stretching out was worth paying for a night’s stay.
If this service had been available, you could have called the toll free number and said, “Hey, I’m on my way from Columbus to New York City. I’ve hit Wheeling, West Virginia and I have ended up with a goose egg for lodging. Any ideas?” The service that is hooked into a database with thousands of tourism related companies and an operator might have hooked me into hotel.com to find a place. Actually, the call is taken by a voice activated system that will get you to an operator once it’s clear what you need. Here’s a menu of what you could say to get all sorts of travel help.
There are plans for the company to act as a GPS service where you can provide a landmark or intersection for where you are for directions on how to get to where you want to go. By the way, James Halk, the person who started this company, is from Columbus–Upper Arlington, actually, but close enough. Here are some comments from folks who have used the service. Also, there are no ads to listen to before you get the help you need.