NiftyClicks: TravelZoo, Gliffy, Yelp and Meetup

By Andrew Lock | Posted March 18, 2009

Andrew Lock

I’m always on the lookout for useful Web sites, tools, software and products that benefit you. My friends consider me their trusted secret source for the latest and greatest productivity tools and resources. Without further ado, here’s my latest batch of Web gems.

TravelZoo.com Top 20

Everyone needs a little time away, right?  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all that. Allow me to tempt you with some travel bargains. More accurately, allow TravelZoo.com to tempt you.

TravelZoo.com
TravelZoo delivers the best deals available to your e-mail address.
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Of course, there are thousands of Web sites about travel, but what makes this one different is that they don’t sell travel; they just tell you about the best deals.

Sign up for free on the site, and once a week, usually on Wednesday, the ‘Top 20’ e-mail pops in your e-mail inbox giving you a run down of 20 hand-picked, very best travel related offers from well-known suppliers. 

The offerings run the range from flights, cruises, car rental, hotels, vacations and all-inclusive resorts.  All things travel basically. I love how the e-mail is simply a ‘get to the point’ list of the deals; it doesn’t get bogged down with adverts or other confusing information.

I can’t recommend this resource highly enough. It’s great to know that when you do want to getaway for a few days or longer, you’ll find something suitable from these e-mails. Check it out.

Gliffy.com

I love this tool.  What am I talking about, I love all the tools I recommend otherwise I wouldn’t be recommending them, would I?

Gliffy.com
This drag-and-drop planner lets you create diagrams, flow charts, mindmaps and other visual documents.
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Gliffy is an online version of Microsoft Visio.  If you’re not familiar with Visio, it’s a visual tool that allows you to "drag and drop" shapes onto a planning document to create workflow diagrams, project plans, flow charts, mindmaps etc., in all kinds of industries.

I used to use Visio as a planning tool for new projects, but Gliffy does essentially the same thing. It’s online (which means there’s no software to download and install), and it’s either free for the basic version (supported by unobtrusive ads), or just $30 year for the premium version, which includes e-mail support and premium functionality.

What makes Gliffy even better than Visio is the capability to share and collaborate on documents with others, because it’s online. I encourage you to check it out; I think you’ll be impressed.

Yelp.com

When my wife and I moved to Salt Lake City in Utah, literally everything was new to us.  Our unfamiliarity with local businesses, suppliers, restaurants, shops and entertainment options is obviously something that’s experienced by others who either move to or visit a new area.

Yelp.com
Yelp.com is the place to get the local lowdown on local businesses.
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The concept of Yelp.com revolves around the fact that we all prefer to receive personal recommendations when we’re unfamiliar with an area.  Yelp.com has done a great job of leveraging the power of the Internet community to provide real, unbiased reviews from the locals. Plus, with each listing you’ll see a helpful map, courtesy of Google maps.

I was surprised at how detailed many of these reviews are.  Apparently there are plenty of people who are willing to spend their own time to help others make wise choices. As you would expect, the larger the city, the more reviews you’ll find, but it’s rapidly gaining momentum even in smaller communities. Check out the reviews for your area.

Meetup.com

Another tool that leverages the power of the large community of Internet users within a specific geographic region is Meetup.com. As the name suggests, the site facilitates a way for people with similar interests to meet up locally.

Meetup.com
Looking for people with similar interests? Meetup.com connects you with active groups in your area.
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This concept has really taken off in larger cities, with some groups numbering into the thousands.  Of course, at the other end of the spectrum are groups with just a couple of members, and I suspect that smaller groups are more productive.

To give you an idea of the type of interests that meetup.com caters for, a quick check for my region revealed groups for:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Graphic Design
  • French language
  • Investors
  • Knitting
  • Writers
  • Stay at Home Moms
  • Poker
  • New in town

What a great way to use the power of the Internet!  I’m absolutely convinced that many new and lasting friendships have been forged through these meet ups ‑‑ relationships that probably would never have happened otherwise.  Now there’s no excuse for anyone to feel alone in his or her community.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks,a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses "get more done and have more fun."

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