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Tools for the trade

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posted January 20, 2021
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During vTREX, NTA’s online conference, Beth Ziesenis, founder of Your Nerdy Best Friend, certainly made friends when she led “#CreepyButHelpful: Futuristic Tech Tools that Increase Your Productivity Today” with unlimited zest.

The education session covered many free and low-cost tools designed to assist with task organization, budgeting, transcribing, and video editing, each utilizing the latest artificial intelligence. And with many in the travel industry operating with smaller staffs and slashed budgets, these tools can be quite helpful. Here are a few Ziesenis covered in her seminar:


Ad blockers

  • Jumbo is a privacy and security tool that will scan the settings of your email and social media and work to block ads and old posts while suppressing location trackers. The free version is quite robust, Ziesenis says.

Audio help

  • Krisp is a computer software that removes background noise on virtual calls. As you speak to colleagues on a Zoom call, this can silence sounds like barking dogs, heavy traffic, and crying babies.

Automations

  • “IFTTT (If This, Then That) is my favorite,” Ziesenis says. You can tell this tool, for example, that if someone uses your tour company’s hashtag on social media, to save the post to Google Sheets. Or when you leave work for the grocery store, to remind you to grab your list. Zapier uses the same concept of setting up “recipes” to automate everyday tasks.
     
  • Otter transcribes voice in real time and integrates with a company’s Zoom, Dropbox, and calendar tools. Ziesenis says she most uses this in planning calls with her clients so she can look back on all of the critical details. And it’s free up to 400 minutes a month.
     
  • Abridge transcribes your conversation (say, with your doctor), and defines the terms, diagnoses, and medications mentioned so you can decipher an important conversation as well as share the recording with others.
     
  • Videoticle will turn a video into an article after pasting in a link. You can read through what was said in the video and take what you need, rather than watch a video in its entirety.

Calculations

  • Google Sheets provides a more sophisticated method of pulling answers from data instead of manual sorting and counting (you activate the AI tool by clicking Explore).
     
  • Photomath and Microsoft Math Solver are used by scanning handwritten problems with your phone, and the apps solve them automatically. Ziesenis’ pro tip is this: Use it on your kids’ math homework.

Email management

  • Gmail is the best, Ziesenis says. “Google’s artificial intelligence spam filters are far beyond everybody else’s.” Smart folders and predictive text are a couple of its “way-crazy, way-awesome” features.
     
  • Spike transforms the clunky format of email threads, specifically on a phone, into a conversation that appears as a chat. It’s designed for you to connect clearly and quickly—and it makes a great team chat app.

Graphic tools

  • Magisto takes b-roll and photos from events and tours and utilizes facial and object recognition to create a professional video in minutes.
     
  • Google Photos is free until June 1, so drop your photos and videos there and it will organize by faces, places, and events.

Meeting management

  • X.ai connects to your calendar and takes over scheduling your meetings. Ziesenis says it used to be more human-like, but the company has since dialed back and made the AI component more robotic. #CreepyButHelpful
     
  • Google Assistant will physically call a restaurant on your behalf to make a reservation. This is built into Android devices, but Apple users must download the app first.

Psychology tools

  • WoeBot, a free tool designed by Stanford-trained University psychologists, uses a chatbot to apply cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help you examine stress and find healthier ways to cope.

To access more resources, text NERD to 66866 or go to yournerdybestfriend.com. If you attended vTREX, you can log back in to the site and listen to the session (and you really should; the sound effects and vintage commercials are must-sees). 
 

Beth Ziesenis
Beth Ziesenis, founder of Your Nerdy Best Friend

Top photo: ©zao4nik/Adobe Stock

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