Hi: A Narrative Mapping Site


Hi is a new website that allows users to map their journeys through personal narrative and original photography. The platform relies upon moments and their respective places. The goal of Hi is to map the world and if the execution of the idea proves to be as good as the idea itself, I have no doubt that they’ll do just that. This could be a landmark development for travel, the ability to journal location-based experiences in a map other users can navigate. I could have posted a photo and commentary on the many stray dogs on the beach on the island of Sal, Cape Verde. Or I could have captured the moment I walked outside the morning after Hurricane Sandy and saw rows of trees from Green-Wood Cemetery knocked down into the street. Needless to say, this service will not only be important for travelers, but it could be important for everyone in receiving around-the-clock news and much more. Prospective users are now able to enter their email address for eventual registration.

How to Create Mapping Route Using Excel
[Thanks, Laughing Squid]

Travel App Upgrades Add Value, Reduce Frustration

travel appTaking the skeptical point of view on travel apps can be dangerous. But with so many apps from a variety of sources doing their rendition of the technology du jour, it is easy to dismiss the lot of them as more of the same. Sometimes though, tiny updates to existing apps can make them a valuable addition to our soft travel gear.

Travel Plans In One Place, Now With Ground Options
Subscribers to TripIt, the intelligent travel plan organizer, now have access to a new feature that might make the service more valuable. Already, TripIt users create a trip by defining a travel window period of time in which it occurs. Filling in the details can be as easy as forwarding an email copy of airline, hotel and/or rental car reservations to Plans@TripIt.com, which reads and understands your plans with a high degree of accuracy.

Now, new TripIt feature Groundlink enables users to add ground transportation, coordinated with existing travel plans, from a smartphone. The app has a Track Your Ride feature that Glympse users will feel comfortable with. Groundlink users will pick their drop-off point from a map generated by Groundlink using nearby venues, addresses, ride history or airports. Already armed with up-to-date details of user flight plans, Groundlink will monitor user travels and advise ground transportation services if it looks like their ride might be delayed. Right now, Groundlink is offering 20 percent off rides booked via the TripIt Mobile App.

Connectivity Worldwide Now With Easy Payment
Boingo, worldwide connectivity company with over 600,000 hotspots worldwide, announced recently that iOS users can now use their secure iTunes account to buy a Boingo subscription. Making the app easier to use than ever, users can activate the new plan on multiple iOS devices, allowing customers to quickly connect to unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi without entering account information.

travel appBehind The Scenes Update For A Better Experience
Airbnb is an online service that allows “hosts” to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests. Testing the service here at Gadling has had mixed results. In the article “Important Warning For Anyone Using Airbnb,” Gadling’s Kyle Ellison warned, “if you plan on renting out a room or serving as a host, be sure you’re aware of the local laws, lest you receive a knock on the door that isn’t from a paying guest,” after discovering that many localities do not allow subletting. In “Airbnb Reconsidered,” Gadling writer Alex Robertson Textor highlights some communication problems inherent with the service that can be problematic.

In response to these concerns and others, Airbnb released a new update reported in techcrunch aimed not at users but at those who host them. One new feature will allow hosts to better communicate with potential users by pre-approving, denying, or requesting more information from guests. The hope is that the new features will increase the speed with which bookings can happen. Another feature will give hosts improved ability to update calendar listings, ensuring that the most current inventory can be seen by users.

Not Just Your Air, What You See Below
Delta Airlines, like most other carriers, has an app that will check you in, track your frequent flier program miles and more. Nothing really exciting there. But Delta’s Glass Bottom Jet is a unique app for iPad that brings users a bird’s-eye view of locations they are flying over. Users can explore the area with photos, landmarks and Wikipedia pages and tell you which Facebook friends you’re flying over. Check this video for more on Delta’s Glass Bottom Jet:



[Photo credit – Flickr user kamshots]

‘Snap Your Stay,’ A New Way To Review Your Hotel Experience

hotel tonight appWe’ve talked in the past about last-minute booking application HotelTonight, which allows travelers to book discounted, same-night hotel stays in major cities across the country. It’s a well thought out application and we generally find that the prices are pretty competitive as well.

The application is back with its newest redesigned version, offering a Price Guarantee functionality that ensures the rates are the same or better than competitors. If you find a lower price elsewhere, HotelTonight offers a booking credit equal to the difference in fare.

But we’re most excited about the “Snap Your Stay” feature, which allows users to upload a series of live photos of the hotel bed, bathroom, view, lobby and exterior, plus one cool feature of their choice to the app. Guests get $5 future booking credit ($10 if their photos are good enough to be featured) as incentive. The app isn’t the first to showcase live photos to assist in a travel review – TripAdvisor has a similar functionality, but it is the first to do so in a consistent manner (meaning travelers will see all pertinent parts of their stay) as well as in such a way that incentivizes travelers to share.

We’d love to see a live view of the hotel, and hopefully this new feature can help us make our booking decisions even easier.

What do you think? Are you more likely to book a hotel if current photos are live in the app, or are you most concerned with price?

Find. Eat. Drink. – A Travel App Curated By Food Lovers, For Food Lovers

find eat drink appWhen traveling, food lovers often rely on the suggestions of others to find the best places to eat, drink and dine out. For travelers merely passing through a region or without foodie friends nearby, new (free!) app Find. Eat. Drink. might be the ultimate solution.

Marketed as “the world’s first travel guide curated by top tier chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, baristas, pitmasters and food artisans,” the app differentiates itself from other travel products on the market in that it showcases credible references from top industry insiders to populate an app that is friendly to the local and traveler alike.

The app allows you to choose a nearby option (within 10 miles of your current location) or from over 120 cities and towns, worldwide and features 2,100 establishments from 340 experts with updates added weekly. Once a user finds a place of interest they can choose to visit the website or make a reservation, which is convenient for “on the go” needs.

From the Cajun to the Basque, Boston to Barcelona, Miami to Montreal, you’ll find great suggestions of things to eat and drink across neighborhoods large and small. We particularly like that you can narrow by region, such as limiting Boston to a “South End” or “Back Bay” search, and that items aren’t just restricted to high-end, dine-in restaurants. The app includes suggestions for coffee, dessert, cocktails (pubs and dive bars included!), farmers markets, butchers, candy shops, ice cream parlors, even shops that sell culinary antiques.

Expertise ranges from well-known chefs, like Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin and Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, to the purveyors they use, like Allan Benton of Benton’s Bacon, and winemakers like Arianna Occhipinti.

A social component adds another layer: users can look up a place, see who recommended it, look at the recommender’s profile, go to their recommendations and so on and so forth.

Don’t want to use your smart phone? You don’t have to. There’s a website, too.

Hostel-Finding Travel App Shows Who Else Is Staying There Too

travel appBrowse, Book and Start Making Friends are the three steps needed to use WeHostels, a new iPhone travel app that is about as easy as it gets to book a no-frills place to sleep for the night. Like a HotelTonight for hostels, WeHostels has some unique features worth a look.

Testing the app for my hometown of Orlando produced four good results based on my current location. At one property, close to Orlando International Airport (MCO), a basic tent with shared bathroom came in at $15 per night. Typical of other listings, additional choices included a standard four-bed male dorm, standard four-bed female dorm or a deluxe six-bed female dorm suite for $25 per night.

Looking down the road, WeHostels users can enter their next destination to line up a hostel for the next place they may be going in advance too. Once found, booking is easy via the app for regular hostel guests who don’t need to know more and just want to tie down a place to sleep for the night. Contact information for the property is also included for those who want to know more.

So what’s different about WeHostels over finding a hostel from another hostel source, say Hostels.com or HostelWorld.com?

In addition to the handy travel app, WeHostels boasts a social element where we can check out who might also be staying at a chosen location before we get there.Like the crowd-sourcing element of other apps, the quality of that information will depend on who has and uses the WeHostels app. Still, on the hostel choices I had for Orlando, someone had checked in to three out of the four property choices. In advance of arrival I would have the name, a photo, the hometown and some other information about others I would spend the night with.

Available right now for iPhone, WeHostel plans for the launch of a general mobile site soon to enable Android users. Save more at WeHostel now; enter the code “GADLING” for $10 off.

Want to know more about WeHostels? Last June, the WeHostels product team moved together into a house in the mountains of Colombia. The team isolated from society with the goal of hacking full-time and developing the WeHostels first mobile app.