If there’s one thing the internet has demonstrated in recent years, it’s that everyone loves an app. Some mobile apps now govern our lives – how we book flights, secure tables at restaurants, play games, view photos – while others merely seek to induce a chuckle. Making life faster, slicker, less troublesome: that’s the modus operandi of most apps. And a new one – designed to refine the process of finding and booking holiday homes – is no different.
The free HomeAway UK iPhone app is an essential piece of kit for travellers of all descriptions. Looking for more tranquillity than is offered by a busy hotel? Want to stay in your own private villa, cottage, houseboat? Cool. This app puts you slap-bang in the middle of a trusted marketplace, bustling with property owners who lease their abodes to tourists from around the world. Even if you’re just passing through a town or city for a weekend – to catch a show, visit a friend, watch a football match – you can rent an apartment for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
Naturally, the app isn’t just streamlined for tourists. Given that there are some 545,000 holiday homes advertised on HomeAway.co.uk , there’s a raft of property owners to satisfy. So what do they get from this product? Well, much as a mobile banking app lets you manage your money on the go, owners can conduct their business at the click of a button. From viewing or responding to queries, sending quotes and updating listings to adding photos and requesting payment, the functionality is hard to fault.
Even if you’re not a globetrotting travel junkie, having details of over half a million rental properties in your pocket is undeniably nifty. On a recent trip driving up the east coast of Scotland, such details – accessible on a whim – would have come in very handy. As it is, the app has just launched on the iPhone platform, with an Android version to follow in autumn.
Of course, hotels suit some of us down to the ground: we like the continental breakfast buffet, the 24-hour room service, the bellhop expertly spiriting our luggage from ground floor to penthouse. Hell, we welcome the noise – pounding Euro-pop blasting out of the poolside speakers – and we don’t mind that the rooms are non-smoking! Unless we smoke, that is.
Yes, for some of us hotels do the trick. But for others, a holiday is about being comfortable – and you can’t get much more comfortable than your own private villa. Sample the package resort away from the main drag, knife into your own swimming pool, go the whole hog and make your own coffee in the morning – just how you like it.
Naturally, intrepid travellers can use the HomeAway.co.uk app to filter their search by price, size, features and location – ensuring you book the perfect property for you. There are also user reviews to pore over, so you can see what past guests had to say about their stay. Of course, all of this is academic if you can’t successfully navigate your way to the front door! Helpfully, the app comes loaded with interactive location maps, and homeowners typically include tips for local attractions and events in their listing.
Perhaps an upgrade for the future might be to enable homeowners to post videos – a virtual tour, if you like – which can be viewable on the app, or a dedicated section outlining all key events occurring in the destination throughout the year. However, this is little more than nitpicking. It’s natural, though: we always want more.
The official HomeAway UK app is available from the iTunes App Store.