Image | Geoffrey Froment
Barcelona is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe and the world. There are no shortage of reasons: it has a great gastronomic scene, fantastic bars and some of Europe’s most outstanding architecture. During the GSMA Mobile World Congress, the city welcomes many visitors who, of course, are able to get the best tips and ideas for experiencing the city with a few taps of their fingers. And you’ll not only find the tried and tested tourist spots; you’ll often come across ideas you wouln’t find in your average guide book. Which apps should you choose?
Before roaming Barcelona’s Mediterranean streets you have to drop your bags off somewhere. If you are looking for a hotel then Gogobot is the app for you. You can filter by the hotel’s star rating, price and user popularity. The app also suggests restaurants and things to do, its users recommend visiting the Sagrada Familia church, the Ramblas and the Camp Nou, or taking a break and recharging your batteries at the popular Cervecería Catalana or Tapas 24. Another hotel-centred app making waves is ByHours (http://www.byhours.com). This app allows you rent rooms by the hour: ideal for taking a little break, for those traveling on business, people who like to play sports, night owls etc.
Once installed you need to know how to get from place to place. This is important for both attending the MWC and for getting to know the city. CityMapper lets you plan your journey by car, by foot, or on bike (with the number of calories burned included), as well as the best way to arrive using public transportation. It also includes useful information such as possible delays, something that is pretty important on a day when meetings, both for business and pleasure, will be abundant. TMB, the main public transit operator in Barcelona, also offers a range of apps (http://www.tmb.cat/en/descarregues-i-aplicacions) to help negotiate the city’s bus and metro networks.
The king of Spanish trips and tourism is Minube. With a strong visual component, users make recommendations, save ‘corners’ to customizable lists and upload images. It’s possible to download a travel guide in PDF, ideal for a tablet. Among the most beautiful photos uploaded are pictures of iconic places such as the colorful La Boqueria Market, the magnificent basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, the Agbar Tower, or the esoteric shapes of Gaudi’s buildings, such as the Casa Batlló.
Three years after being voted the best app for the iPhone in Spain, Minube closed 2014 with 1.5 million euros of net income, thanks to a new business model that allowed customers to manage their own online reservations and opened new paths to profitability beyond advertising. In the future they expect to enter international rounds of financing.
Another service that is completely Spanish is Trip4real. Thanks to this site you can get in touch with local guides who will allow you to experience a side of Barcelona that’s usually only seen by locals. There is something for everyone. Do you want to learn how to cook homemade paella? Talk to Marta. Tour a Catalan Modernist flat and sip tea with the owner? Sean’s your man. As you can see, there are activities of all kinds and they tend to avoid the usual fare.
Trip4real was created in 2013 and recently raised a round of 1 million euros in financing, with backers including Kibo Ventures and the famous chef Ferran Adriá. Their motto is simple, as the CEO Gloria Molis recalled in an interview: “be a traveler not a tourist”. The initial idea was to put people in touch with residents of the cities they’re visiting in order to meet for a beer or a coffee, but it kept on growing as they discovered that those who just landed wanted to spend more time with their new friends.
In a nutshell, if you are going to visit Catalonia, or know someone who will, keep these apps in mind, which could also be a great opportunity to help local businesses.