In his app technology piece our tech guy Colin Moors runs the rule over the latest seasonal apps.
With the summer holiday season looming larger than a thunderstorm over Brussels, I thought it was about time to cast a weather eye over some of the newest apps that claim to make finding a holiday or quick break an easier task. We’ve all heard of the usual suspects in this field but the smart money may well be away from the likes of booking.com or tripadvisor.com because their market share is both a safeguard and a roadblock to finding the deals you want. Trip Advisor don’t require someone to have experienced the hotel, restaurant or event in order to leave a review, all you need is a free account. They say that their regular users’ reputation is enough to lend credibility to a review but news reports of ‘hit and run’ bad reviews are rife. Such attacks can permanently stifle competition. Booking is different, as users need to have stayed at the hotel in order to file a review but their sheer clout means you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else to book your hotel – including the hotel site itself.
Because of such virtual monopolies, you may have a hard time being the independent traveller you perhaps wish you were. Hopefully, some or all of these recommendations will help you make more informed and even offbeat decisions. It’s either that or go to a travel agency and pick up a plastic bag full of brochures like some kind of caveman.
We all have to get where we’re going and undoubtedly the cheapest way to get there, if it’s far enough away, is to fly. However, to know there was a cheaper Finnair flight to the same place, you’d need a lot of patience and a huge data plan on your phone. The best thing is to use a flight aggregator site – and the best one of those at the moment is momondo.com (web site but apps are also available for Android and iPhone). If you made it past the word ‘app’, you’ll be just fine here. Plug in the details of where you want to go, then mess around with all the checkboxes, sliders and assorted doodads until you’re either satisfied or even less decisive than when you began.
Qatar Airways have developed an easy-to-use mobile app and responsive website exclusively for Privilege Club members. The app comes as an add-on feature to the Qatar Airways app, giving you complete control over your membership account from your mobile device. It also provides you with a convenient and safe way to access your membership account on the go, anytime, anywhere.
A good feature is the ability to just throw city at it and it’ll automatically pick the nearest airport. It will handle multiple destinations and, as is de rigeur these days, offer you a hotel and a hire car as well. The one thing I didn’t like was that it wouldn’t allow me to choose Zavantem, opting for ‘Brussels (all airports)’ which means that, in order to give you the cheapest option, means that you could begin in Zaventem and end up back in Charleroi. I cannot think of a single instance in which this would be a useful scenario. If you want fewer bells and whistles but still want a cheap flight, skyscanner.com still scores very highly in independent reviews. It also has the option to select ‘Everywhere’ as a destination, adding that frisson of the devil-may-care attitude of the independent globe-trotter you clearly are.