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One genuinely good piece of news for business travelers in a generally bleak year for it is that TripAdvisor has launched a Business Travel Center to bring to business travelers the kind of customized services that leisure travelers have so long appreciated. The site may look the same, but under Quick Links you will see a heading "Browse by trip type" and under that there is a button for "business travel".

TripAdvisor has been extremely useful for its inside scoop on hotels since its inception because it features real feedback from real people - yes, there can be "planted" material - but I think that it is relatively easy to discern what a property is really like just by reading the comments. Having a feedback loop like TripAdvisor is invaluable because it provides you with insights you won't find elsewhere.

Clearly, as a business traveler you are still going to have to adhere to your company's travel policy. But I find that being able to read reviews from other business travelers (and not just vacationers) makes the difference in selecting the right place to stay, if all else is equal. This social media tool comes along at the right time for business travelers who are seeing a lot of competition among hotels for their business. Price is important, but if you're like me, it may not be the determining factor. I have a list of triggers I look for in a business venue, and TripAdvisor is the kind of resource where I'll learn what I won't see elsewhere, such as how convenient the hotel's business center really is, whether the property is secure, and what other benefits or drawbacks are just not listed in the hotel's commercially available information.

I see TripAdvisor's Business Travel Center becoming one of the first places that business people go when it comes time to book a hotel or use other business-related travel service, such as loyalty programs.

Check it out before your next business trip.

Road Warrior • Miami •