Last week, we invited people to submit questions through Twitter for TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer. This week, we’ll post two questions and answers each day on the blog. Thanks for all of your submissions!
Why doesn’t TripAdvisor have a mobile option? I love your site and am really surprised that you haven’t come out with anything yet. What are you waiting for?
We get that question a lot. There are two answers, really. First of all, our popular Facebook restaurant application Local Picks is available on the iPhone. It came out about a year and a half ago and, in all honesty, got pretty mediocre reviews. Travelers liked the idea of being able to research restaurants on the fly, but we were missing some key functionality. We’ve worked hard on the app since then, and will be releasing version 3 next month. We’re really excited about it – users will be able to sort listings by popularity or proximity, filter by cuisine, and get feedback on price range. Most recent review data will be pulled to the top, and we’ve added the functionality to read full reviews, write a review, and upload photos from your phone. Maps and the overall user interface are greatly improved, as well.
We’re working on a mobile version of TripAdvisor, also. What took so long? Great question, with no good answer. Suffice it to say that you should look for TripAdvisor to come to your mobile device within the next few months.
Do you think the “Home Exchange” trend is the new way for #budget #travelers to experience the world outside of a hotel?
Home exchange is certainly an interesting lodging option, especially for travelers on tight budgets. After all… how can you beat the cost (free) and the chance to stay in a real house/apartment! There are risks, though – how can you trust that you’ll get exactly what was advertised? Who do you call if something goes wrong? Most exchanges rely on both parties being able to make the swap at the same time, also, so there are some real scheduling constrictions.
We think vacation rentals offer many of the same benefits – they’re a great alternative to hotels, and often offer substantial cost-savings — but they come with a level of trust and predictability that home exchange typically doesn’t. Our vacation rental section offers property verification and a robust volume of reviews. With this setup, travelers can get the same feedback from other real travelers for vacation rentals that they find with our hotel listings. We’ve also created a calculator to help people determine the cost savings between a hotel and rental home in any given destination.
It comes down to personal choice, and what works for you. When you’re looking at home exchange vs. vacation rentals, a key question is how much risk you’re willing to take. For travelers who have a lot at stake in their annual vacation – savings, time with family, relaxation – a vacation rental usually offers more of a sure bet. On the other hand, if you know someone who had a great time with a home exchange, and you can arrange something similar with the same owner… it’s a great way to save big bucks and have lots of room for the entire family.