Norwegian travel startup Stay.com, was the proverbial “toast of travel town” at the end of last year. Moreover, judging from today’s release of their version 2.3 Beta, it looks as if the Scandinavian startup is ramping up for some more accolades for 2011. While Version 2.3 is not a Noah’s Ark of online travel exclusivity, users will find adding just about anything to their travel guides, and their community too, quite useful.
For those who are not familiar with Stay.com, the travel startup from Norway ended up as one of the top 5 Time Magazine picks for 2010. I talked about them a bit after the initial Beta launch back in June, 2010. Besides the cleanest user interface around, and beautiful aesthetics, the platform allows users to create very well tailored travel guides for reviewing online or downloading into super nice PDF format. Enough said about old news.
This current version of Stay.com released today offers users the opportunity to add whatever they so desire to their customized travel guides via a nice variation on the Google Places API. And while this may seem a fairly ordinary added value, the search component of this feature is particularly interesting.
In the screen below you can easily see Stay.com affords the users there great flexibility by allowing them to search within the Stay platform, while building guides or doing travel homework, anything that Google Places touches. The next few screenshots from within the Stay.com platform show at least one search/addition aspect. Users can add venues, sites, attractions, almost anything to the new Stay guides, but as importantly, to the community & platform of the development (more later on this).
While building or researching information within a city, the new Stay version lets users either search a term (place), or just pinpoint and add one at their discretion. As the image above shows too, annotating, categorizing, adding to guides, and even sharing via several channels is possible – on the guide level, as well as the item level.
Just like the Stay.com that won accolades last year, the developers in the far frozen North have again laid the groundwork for some very powerful traveler value. The image below shows just one view of the special “add feature” just before the user saves it to his/he guide, etc.
As stated, Stay.com Version 2.3 is not the “end all” startup release of all time. It is however, significant for two basic reasons. First, Stay.com has if anything, been all about completeness from the start – Version 2.3 shows meticulous value building. Secondly, considering what we are told is a beautiful mobile facet to Stay.com, adding desired destinations (later images and even video) seems the next logical step. What would you want an online travel service to be able to help you with?
The image below is one I made to illustrate how users can just define and add even the most obscure venues. The Google Places map below has been zoomed and switched to Hybrid – so adding this Spree River tour is about as easy as aiming a smart phone camera – ooops! I spilled the beans maybe?
Perhaps I am reading a bit too much into what Stay.com is showing off this time around. However, taking note of the developmental doggedness where so content is concerned. I alluded to this at the start of this article. Stay differentiates itself from almost all other travel startups by using so much professionally generated guide info. It can be said Stay.com is the Frommers of online travel guides. No other such startup I am aware of has such editorial content. Now add the ability for users to create their own variants (not simple reviews) and its easy to see a powerful combination of variables here.
CEO Joachim Paasch had this to say via a release about content:
“We wanted to create something useful and original all along. It appears now we discover how right the decision was to create custom venues and travel descriptions. With “Add your own” Stay.com will become a much more powerful travel service.”
Factoring in Google’s situation where SPAM and content are concerned, and what we have on good advice is a very advanced mobile aspect for Stay.com – and perhaps you see my reason for sounding so optimistic here. Stay.com, or anyone else for the matter, has to consider where the Web is headed with content – what was “King” may soon become out and out Master of the Universe.
Stay.com version 2.3 also throws in a neat Facebook Connect aspect, as well as 8 or more new cities and hundreds of hotels and venues. But, meticulous and complete information, top-notch aesthetics and user interfaces, the widest possible flexibility with the least clutter, and extreme mobility when it’s called for – this is what has so far differentiated Stay.com. If the mobile app up next is as good as we hear, all that’s left for the boys from Norway is the execution. We wait and see.