If you're planning to travel this summer, there are a host of smartphone applications that can make your trip less stressful.
While you're probably familiar with industry standards like Airbnb and Priceline, several emerging apps aim to improve nearly every aspect of the travel experience. There are apps to help you outsmart opaque pricing methods, recommend points of interest based on social media chatter, and bypass tourist traps to "live like a local," said digital lifestyle commentator Carley Knobloch.
As the travel app space matures, the services these apps provide have become more nuanced and diverse. And even some established travel apps have expanded their offerings to remain relevant in a competitive marketplace.
Here are five that can make your next excursion smoother:
After sending Dufl a suitcase full of the items you want to travel with, the luggage-shipping company will perpetually store the suitcase for $10 a month and ship it out whenever you want to travel. For $100 each trip, Dufl will clean, pack and ship your clothes to and from your destination, allowing you to travel lightly and zip through airports.
"There are very few travel apps that actually save you time," said Dufl co-founder and CMO Andrea Graziani. "And that's what Dufl does."
Since its launch in April 2015, the number of Dufl users has grown about 30 percent each quarter, Graziani said. This year, Dufl has made about 5,000 trips, delivering luggage to 550 U.S. cities and 18 countries.
Based on an "archive of trillions of flight prices," Hopper uses predictive analytics to tell users when they can get the cheapest plane tickets. The app estimates, to the nearest dollar, how much you're likely to save or lose if you book a flight on any specific day.
To further simplify the data, Hopper uses color-coded calendars that shade cheap days in green and expensive days in red. Users can also receive push notifications that alert them when prices are likely to fall or rise.
Hopper claims its predictions are 95 percent accurate.
If you drop your car off at the airport and leave it with FlightCar, the company will help you rent it out while you're away. As Knobloch puts it, the peer-to-peer car sharing app "parallels Airbnb's experience, allowing locals to generate revenue from their assets while they're away while freeing travelers from the cookie-cutter travel experience."
When you list your car on FlightCar, you'll receive free airport parking and a car wash whether or not your car actually gets rented. And if the car does get rented, you receive some cash, too.
On the renter's side, "People are getting a really unique selection of vehicles," said Robert Gash, FlightCar vp of product and engineering. "These are the cars that people are driving every day, so you get everything from convertibles to luxury vehicles."
According to TechSavvy Global CEO and lead analyst Scott Steinberg, "Many more travelers are turning to crowdsourced or locally focused travel apps that can help them enjoy restaurants, attractions and points of interest that require local, insider knowledge."
If you're a traveler who prefers these non-touristy attractions, then you may find Sidekix handy.
After arriving at a destination, the app generates a walking route (based on information from social media, lifestyle sites and local bloggers) that highlights stops along the way. Routes can center on food, culture, fashion and nightlife places of interest, or by what's trending. And the app makes a point of recommending local places rather than chains.
For several years, booking app HotelTonight has been a go-to destination for travelers seeking discounted hotel rooms at the last minute. The app makes it easier to book a hotel room in a hurry by giving users the option to reserve a room on the same day or up to a week out. And recently, the app expanded beyond merely handling reservations and ventured into customer interaction by rolling out Aces, an in-app concierge service.
Rather than dealing with algorithmic virtual assistants, Aces allows users to interact with a real person who can help them do things like book specific rooms and check in early. The in-app concierge is available to users the morning they check in, and can be used throughout their entire stay.
"Messaging-based commerce is still nascent," HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank said in a release, "and we're excited to be innovators within the space."
Aces is available in 32 cities worldwide for bookings over $200.
Read more about the tactics and trends reshaping the tourism industry in Adweek's Travel Marketing Report.