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TripAdvisor is making it official and phasing out its separate City Guides app at the end of August as the company has taken further steps to turn its signature TripAdvisor app into the ultimate guide book.
The four-year-old TripAdvisor City Guides app had amassed travel guides and downloadable maps for some 300 cities around the world and these are all available now in TripAdvisor’s main app. They can be used offline for travelers shuffling around various destinations and concerned about data charges.
Just consider how the TripAdvisor app has evolved and what it currently offers. While several years ago it mainly offered hotel and restaurant information and reviews, the app now also offers the travel guides; tour bookings from its Viator unit, which was acquired one year ago; hotel and vacation rental bookings; restaurant reservations through Priceline’s OpenTable and TripAdvisor’s own The Fork; flight search and airport information, and tidbits about Wi-Fi and roaming at various destinations.
Unlike most guide books, the TripAdvisor app is thus not only informational but also actionable: You can book the hotel and make restaurant reservations, as well as summon an Uber ride to get you to the activity or destination.
To its credit, TripAdvisor has integrated its travel guides in a relatively noncommercial manner. When accessing the app’s travel recommendations for Paris, France, for example, you can view an Off the Beaten Path guide that can be filtered for the history buff, foodie or nature lover and then peruse 20 places to take in and their hundreds of reviews without any commercial plugs from Viator.
The Viator tours have been integrated into the TripAdvisor app but they are accessible in a Things to Do section that is separate from the Travel Guides. While TripAdvisor is killing its separate City Guides app, Viator still has its own separate app.
Other booking apps haven’t kept pace with TripAdvisor’s breadth of content. The Expedia app, for example, offers hotels, flights, cars and activities but the guide-oriented information is relatively sparse and devoid of user reviews.
The challenge for TripAdvisor — and it is assuredly an issue the company has considered extensively — is whether it will win by being an all-encompassing app or whether it is better to be more focused like Expedia’s or HotelTonight’s apps. In phasing out its City Guides app, TripAdvisor is putting itself in the comprehensive camp.