KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — There are generally two types of travellers: the ones who plan months ahead, and the fancy-free ones who’ll figure out the accommodation when they get there. A few years ago, doing the latter would entail frantic calls and rush to the Internet cafes for a last-minute booking.
All that’s in the past now thanks to a handful of smartphone apps that would allow you to not only make bookings, but also search for the best rates and compare hotels closest to you. Here are three of the best mobile apps for the last-minute traveller:
Kayak ranks among the most popular travel apps, chalking up over 12 million downloads since 2009. That feat comes to little surprise considering how well-made and comprehensive the app is; not only does it find and book the closest hotels to you, but it also aggregates rates and ratings across different booking services like Hotels.com, Orbitz, and CheapTickets.
The Kayak app does more than hotel bookings, however. It can also compare flight prices and car rental deals, access airline numbers and airport info, convert currency, and store your trip agenda. One more nifty feature is a Packing checklist made according to themes — there are checklists for romantic getaways, business trips, and family vacations, so you won’t forget the essential items for each type of holiday.
If you haven’t heard of Agoda by now, you’ve been paying too much for hotel rooms. The online-booking service offers one of the best room rates, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, and its app is now available on the iPhone and Android platform.
The app allows you to search what hotels are closest to you, displaying basic information, prices, customer reviews, and photos. Once decided, you can make an in-app booking in a matter of clicks. The latest version now allows Agoda members to earn Rewards Points for bookings made through the app — depending on the hotel, registered users can earn points worth 4-7 per cent of each booking, which can be applied to the next hotel booking.
For those who don’t fancy hotels or hostels, Airbnb offers an alternative by allowing travellers to rent unoccupied rooms or homes. With rooms listed in over 19,000 cities, the service has been particularly useful in major European and US cities like San Francisco, Paris, New York, and Rome.
As expected, the mobile app allows users to search for nearby rooms, discover more about the place and the owner, and book directly through the app. Beyond that, however, the app is also the most stylish of the lot: photos are presented in full-screen glory (or otherwise, depending on the state of the room), the interface is tidy, and features slick travel guide videos for cities like Berlin, Paris and Rome.
The app also allows you to locally store your itinerary, reservation information and other “key components” of your trip.