As a consultant, speaker and all-too-frequent conference attendee, I, like many of you, spend a good part of my life on the road, which frequently means I'm making appointments for meetings in cities and time zones across the country. Unfortunately, none of the tools I've tried really understands the life of a road warrior.
While today's online calendars and Outlook invitations are a lot better than my old Filofax or even Meeting Maker, none of the solutions I've tried handle time zones well enough. Sure, recent versions of Outlook let you specify a time zone for each appointment so conference calls and WebEx conferences appear at the right times in participants' calendars even if they're in different time zones, but that's just a partial solution.
The problem is that the calendar display is locked to a single time zone. If I'm going to be in Las Vegas for a conference, I still see those days displayed in my home Eastern time zone. Every time I take a call from someone who wants to meet in Vegas, I have to either switch the calendar view to Pacific time or do the time zone conversion in my head. Since I use Outlook most of the time, that means I have to change my computer's time zone to change the display.
What I really want is for my calendar application to let me set the display time zone on a day-by-day basis. I can then see appointments at the time I'll be living those appointments, so when someone asks if I'm free at 2 p.m. next Thursday, I can respond based on the time zone I will be in on that day.
Since I use the online calendar app Tungle to let folks see my availability and suggest meeting times, I'd also like to be able to set my business day start and end times on a daily basis. I'm open for 8 a.m. breakfast meetings and evening social events when I'm at a conference in Vegas, but I don't want anyone to think I'm available at 9 p.m on other days.
While we're at it, let's integrate some travel management into my planner app. When I'm planning a trip, I should be able to enter my flight, hotel and car rental info into my planner. Not only will it then be handy on my smartphone app, complete with boarding pass, but it should also mark the in-transit time as busy and set the time zone for days I'm going to be in Las Vegas.
If any of you are designing an iPhone/PC and or Web app for road warriors' calendars, I volunteer to be a guinea pig for it.