With summer well underway, it has become clear that Mobile Apps and Social Media are becoming mandatory tools to navigate a traveler’s explorations. On a recent visit to the Big Apple, I tightly clutched my smartphone 24/7, like an oxygen mask deployed on emergency landing.

From airline check-in to dining, hospitality to shopping, restaurant booking to hailing a cab, using a smart phone has quickly transformed this traveler’s experience! As I deplaned the flight, I quickly noticed the multiple wine and beer bars in LaGuardia Airport. Each fully stocked with stationary iPad menus at each table, clearly offering entertainment value for travelers awaiting his/her flight while sipping on a full body red.

Dining: My casual restaurant choices were located using Google search; with every spot pointing me to Yelp, an online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop and drink. Yelp has done an excellent job building brand presence in large metro’s using Community Brand Ambassadors. Nashville has had our own Marcia Masulla, Senior Community Manager for almost 4 years.

For those hard to snatch tables at the best restaurants, you’ll need to book in advance using Open Table. The next day following a divine dining experience, I received an Open Table review request of the restaurant. Each time I participate, I build up points to receive dining checks for future meals. This creates a completely 360 degree closed loop social experience and as I relive the amazing meal, it secures my loyalty to the restaurant.

Lodging: My hotel offered a concierge twitter account upon arrival, so that if I needed assistance I could simply tweet and receive an answer while navigating the city. Talk about customer service immediacy.

Shopping: Looking for new eyeglasses I searched online for boutique optical shops, Yelp popped up with the highest search ranking, proving they once again own this urban market combined with stealth search engine optimization.

One morning while looking for a Chai Tea Latte, I noticed that my phone’s location services optimized my search to the multiple coffee shops nearby.

Transportation: In NYC, there are two real time taxi request apps, Uber, which recently launched in Nashville and the other Hailo. Both work great when it’s not peak cab rush hour, but you can fuhgettaboutit when it’s a busy Saturday night. Simply place your zip code into the app and it responds if there are any cabs nearby.

If you haven’t checked out the latest travel apps, do a little research before your next trip. The return on your time will save money and precious travel moments. If you are looking for ways to integrate your business with Social Media, especially with the huge number of Nashville visitors predicted this summer. Make sure to own your online real estate. There are so many sites like Trip Advisor, Zagats, and others to help your customers find you. Differentiate your company by integrating Social Media and truly adding value to their experience of your business or service.

As a famous travel campaign once touted, “Don’t leave home without it”, I would certainly add a mobile device along with my American Express card!