Before I begin, my wife suggested that I give this software a trial – I was initially resistant although I did realize our week long trip to Montreal was days away and didn’t have any other mobile alternatives.
It took some effort and trial and error work, however, I was overall pleased with the software after getting out of my comfort zone and giving it a try. There are a number of significant cities, or perhaps the largest, where you can download the City Guide. Categories include Europe, North America, Central and South America, Asia, Australia, Middle East and Africa. Europe has the most significant cities with 31 although North America (which includes Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada and Playa del Carmen in Mexico) and U.S. cities closely follow with 26.
After downloading the software, I added my destination (Montreal) to help me prepare for the trip. Once you settle in, you can search the target city by restaurants, hotels, attractions, nightlife, shopping and tours (tickets). Once you choose any of those items, the app is smart enough to ask you if your search should include the entire city or a given neighborhood. When I select the neighborhood of Old Montreal, a list of these restaurants appear to include overall rankings from Montreal even though just the neighborhood results appeared. The price range was included along with comments and rankings and the link provides additional information, if necessary. Two invaluable features includes the distance from my current location and the option, ‘Point Me There,’ which displays a large arrow on the screen to the correct direction. As a pedestrian, the ‘Point Me There’ feature is critical when my destination was within 1 kilometer or so. Another feature worth mentioning is the map — this supports the other directional features and by providing street names and intersections, give visitors another option to help get around the city.
After doing some basic searches on a hotel or restaurant, you can filter Montreal (the city) or Old Montreal (neighborhood) by price, either $, $$, $$$, or $$$$. If you’re price conscious and want a specific cuisine, you can also add another variable of ‘Search by Cuisine’ so while on the go, you drill down to get a pretty good idea what you’re searching for.
Being in a foreign country and even though the beautiful country of Canada is just to our north, I was unsure how our mobile data plan was going to cost. Therefore, my wife and I were quite careful with the amount of data we used. Much to my surprise, I learned most of these TripAdvisor features, including, Point Me There, or the distance from my destination did not use data. Again, a very pleasant surprise.
This app helped me gain quick feedback regarding a hotel, tourist attraction, shopping or restaurant. This may be more useful when travelers are on “the go” and need information fast. If you have more time to plan and acquire information, reading comments can supplement a rating. In my opinion, seeing 30 or so comments on a museum, shopping, or a restaurant, it typically will provide enough sampling information to acquire a good idea behind the product or service.
Regarding Montreal’s metro, TripAdvisor listed all the stations throughout the core of the urban area. To locate a given metro station, you could click on the nearest metro station and be pointed in that direction. It gave specific directions – whether there were more than one station nearby. Invaluable feature when weary or in a hurry to get from one point of the city to another without having to rely on a taxi.
TripAdvisor maps are designed to be used before or during travel although some mobile users may have some challenges clearly seeing the screen. For example, using an iPhone 5, that screen didn’t quite provide the amount of real estate in which to view the map. Regardless of how much one will “zoom in” on the map, some mobile users might see it a challenge to solely rely on that feature when maneuvering the city. As a working solution, I picked up a detailed map of Montreal to supplement the TripAdvisor map display. Having both of these tools was a “win-win” in my book – a mix of the old and new school and allowed me to alternative back and forth to leverage the most effective tool at the time to get the job done.
I can’t say the TripAdvisor tool was completely intuitive or the easiest tool to use. It takes some time to get the feel of how it’s designed so I became somewhat familiar with it prior to my trip. By using it in Montreal, I was exposed to some if not all the features – the tool will definitely be used again and I would definitely say, customer centric. Spending any more than a few days in a new city, learning the basics of this app would be time well spent. In fact, with our trip planned to Columbus, Ohio, in October, I’m reviewing some of the key tourist sites according to the past visitors who took the time to rate and possibly comment.