NetTravel: How Travelers Use the Internet

COMPUTER BOOK REVIEW  

369 words

Title: NetTravel: How Travelers Use the Internet;  by: Michael Shapiro;
O'Reilly & Associates Inc.; ISBN: 1-56592-172-0;  paperback, 312 pages, 
US$24.95 Can$35.95


Reviewer: Paul A. Bennett, "The book, a powerful money- and 
time-saving resource, will grow in value to the user as (s)he 
learns more about the travel industry."

Find your way through the airlines maze

This book will be a godsend to travelers eager to save time and money by
booking their flights, rental cars and hotels through one of several sites
on the Internet.

Shapiro, an avid traveler and producer for CNET in San Francisco, concedes 
that for those with Internet experience, the book may not be worth buying, 
but he asserts that if you  aren't savvy on what's available at travel sites 
"you will learn to be a more efficient and effective travel planner. ... 
NetTravel goes beyond showing you how to use online resources; it offers 
an inside view into how the travel industry works."

I checked out the blurb's claim that you can "turn the screen around and
see what the agent is seeing" and found that that is indeed the case. The
sites all quote you several fares based on criteria you set yourself --
date, airline, class of travel, etc.

Some sites (Microsoft's Expedia for example) will even let you book flights
and pay for the ticket right on the net, using a safety-coded credit card.
The ticket is then sent by air express, with arrival anywhere in the USA
and Canada within three days.

Other sites direct you to a local travel agent to complete the transaction.

I was unable to find any of the deep-discount airlines such as Canada 3000
or Greyhound on the two sites I sampled, so a final telephone check might
be advisable before you pay your money.

The sites also provide for booking car rentals and hotel chains, but again,
don't expect to find any bargain rates from non-chain, local operators.
(This is especially crucial for foreign car rentals, since few
internationals can compete at a local level, as we've discovered several
times.)

The book features first-hand accounts of travelers who have discovered
hard-to-find information (to prove it can be done, perhaps, since the
interfaces I checked weren't particularly user-friendly!), how to get
last-minute deals on airfares, advice on setting up home-swaps worldwide,
and tips on how to "mine" Internet newsgroups for tips and advice from
fellow travelers.

The book, a powerful money- and time-saving resource, will grow in value
to the user as (s)he learns more about the travel industry.


 


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