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Stay.com Lets Users Roll Their Own Travel

Late last week the Norwegian travel startup Stay.com release their version 2.3. As a mid-term development release, what Stay offered up was fairly significant. Beside new cities and the obvious Facebook Connect features, a little tool I dubbed “add everything” debuted along with other minor additions. Voted one of the top websites of 2010 by Time Magazine, our friends at Stay are headed for more fame and fortune this year.

Stay.com has a pretty simple philosophy actually, be the most complete – and people will naturally gravitate toward your product. Being a team member of Stay offers this writer an interesting vantage point to observe this fascinating development. One of the first priorities not many take too much note of was making printable pocket guides users could create themselves very early on.

Several OTA’s tired to tackle this aspect, but as far as I know, Stay is the only one that perfected it. Not a big deal, you say? Well, ever been stuck in Hong Kong trying to buy a map? Think again.

Joachim Paasche

Another key component of the Stay.com development, one lending itself well to the coming web landscape, was original content. We are intimately familiar with this aspect because Pamil Visions provided the bulk of Stay’s descriptive text and many unique images.

With Google on the verge of penalizing TripAdvisor and anyone else loaded down with scraped content, Stay dot com’s decision to pay for premium content is all the more wise. But without going into the circuitous developmental superiority of Stay – let’s take a close look at “add your own” stuff to Stay.

In the screen shot below I have selected Amsterdam from the Stay.com landing as the city to search and build my “Stay” at. You can see, I have circled the “add your own” search function. I asked Stay.com CEO Joachim Paasche (left) how big this aspect of the development is, modest to a flaw, this was his reply:

“The “Add your own” feature is a supplementary functionality which allows users to add all kinds of personal items to their guides, plus unique content they find on Stay.com. It is just one of many facets of the overall product. It is important for us because of its integration with so many other tools. So, “add your own,” like all the upcoming tools within the platform, takes us closer to our goal of being the most complete service possible.”

Amsterdam search tool

Searching Amsterdam and adding whatever

As the reader can easily see in the screen below, this writer is having a Whopper attack and wants to know where Burger King is for his trip. The search reveals a Burger King which was not listed in the editorial content for this city – now all I have to do is annotate and add it and I have a Whopper in my clutches when Mig and I travel to Amsterdam. What’s even cooler is, this restaurant can be suggested for inclusion so other Stay users can find it more easily. This is the next generation of UGC in case you do not know.

It takes two hands to handle a whopper

It takes two hands to handle the Whopper - but one to add it to Stay

Okay, now we have taken care of our hamburger withdrawal pains. What about Salsa? Okay, my lovely wife is maybe the best Latin dancer in Germany – so let’s add some Latin flavor to our burgers and fries. Below you can see I have searched again for Salsa, and now I just annotate, categorize, and add to my Stay – or even suggest to Facebook and Twitter pals.

My Amsterdam Stay

My Amsterdam Stay now includes Salsa!

Now here is where Stay’s new add feature gets interesting. To be honest not many of the peeps I have talked with about this aspect seem to “get it” where peeps being able to “roll their own” is concerned. Who knows, maybe we have all seen too much technology – “the forest for the trees” sort of dilemma? Stay is using Google Places and Maps to do a number of cool things here.

And then when we add in mobile functions with Stay’s next release of 3.0 – perhaps the reader can get an image of not only building a travel guide with custom rich features – but, something a bit more compelling. The image below is an abbreviated guide including my additions – one of which is a boat ride added via drag and drop – there was no such listing.

Amsterdam guide in list view

My guide so far seen in list view - other previews available

Why people, even the best technology gurus out there, do not speculate a bit – well, this is a mystery I may never solve. But then, not many, not even great innovators I know, are so creative outside their own little worlds. Just why I see these additional features as so powerful (besides being on the inside) is not so much a mystery. Add Google Place, Google Goggles, a bit of magic from SITA Lab, some old fashioned imagination, and what do you have? You tell me. Come on.

Stay.com’s award winning design and utility, combined with the available mobile and image technologies – goes a long way toward being on of the finest digital tool period. This is not disruptive innovation folks – but execution. Think about Facebook, what did it do for you? Put your face in the digital community, connected you with a vast world within a world.

Stay, and developments like it, effectively do the same thing – only for travelers. Don’t wait until the next release of Stay version coming in a few weeks, learn your way around the booking portal you will probably end up using any way. Oh, and check out Stay’s price match guarantee too, the reasons for using Stay.com grow every day.

Note: Pamil Visions, the parent company of Argophilia Travel News, is proud to be employed by Stay.com.