Thanks to means of transportation becoming more widely affordable, travelling is turning from the once-in-a-year-weekend-holiday-to-Paris to become more of a hobby people can choose to do more often.
And wherever there is an increasingly popular activity emerging, applications that make that activity easier and more interesting are never far behind.
In Finland, the hot travel app to be on lookout for right now is CreateTrips, which according to rumours has been amassing clients from prestigious hotels in the UAE (though that’s another story entirely). But you wont have to travel too far across the world to find a noteworthy alternative, if personalizing your travels through crowdsourced guides is what you’re after.
Stay.com is the travel app from Norway which has been making it to headlines in big media, and among other things, was featured as one of Time Magazine’s 50 best websites for 2010.
Stay launched their Stay 3.0 app in late May this year, and the new app features over 150 destinations and 1000 travel guides from “Local Experts”, which are basically local adventure-hunters and all-the-little-coffee-shops-you-might-miss explorers with a slight bohemian touch to their discoveries. Through Stay, you could find a nice, quiet restaurant to take your travel date to, art galleries which might be worth a visit or the best spots to do some morning yoga at.
Well-seasoned and newbie travelers alike can choose their favourite guides from this extensive list of local investigations; add them to their own list and hence create a very personalized combination of mini-guides to follow when wandering about in the city of destination. Moreover, users can add their own guides or recommendations and access all this stuff offline, so that rotten wi-fi connections won’t ruin any carefully planned activities.
Joachim Paasche, Founder and CEO of Stay.com, is proud of the new app release: “Our current app with offline maps, personalized travel guides and collaboration features has been well received and really changed the travel experience for our users. We've listened to our users, and updated and enhanced the app with features they needed to make their travel experience even grander.”
Stay was “born” in 2009, when Paasche got tired of handling bulky guidebooks when running his previous hotel booking business, Hotellweb. He didn't see many good alternatives around to solve the issue, so he got struck by inspiration to set up an app that would take care of the guidebook problem.
A year later, his focus had shifted from hotel bookings to managing a service for digital travel guides, a leap which I’d call his personal escape from slightly boring but profitable (Hotellweb did $25 million in sales in 2010), to more exciting but not-sure-if-profitable (at least back then).
Despite several mentions in high profile publications (Times, Forbes, The New York Times), a quick overview on AppAnnie tells us Stay isn’t exactly dominating the travel app markets, though in Sweden the app has mostly been on the northern end of the top 200 travel apps for the past couple of months.
According to Stay, its popular destinations this spring and summer include London, New York, Paris and Barcelona.
“Besides these all time favourites, we see more and more people travelling to Bangkok, as well as cities in eastern Europe, like Prague and Budapest. Now users can make the perfect combination of must-see sights, hidden gems and personal favourites. I'm looking forward to seeing their response to the Local Expert guides and enhanced app”, says Paasche.