If you’re anything like me, you tend to use the same few travel websites and portals over and over again when planning or booking travel. I suppose for the most part, we just get into a routine, and the familiar is easier to navigate than reinventing the wheel every time we go about planning a trip. And if it ain’t broke, why fiddle with it? So when the folks behind the new travel booking platform Relovate asked me to review the service, really the only thing I was keen on was determining if my current travel booking habits could somehow be improved.
So that’s how I went about this review — poking and prodding and keystroking my way through unfamiliar internet turf to see if there really was any value-add to be had.
Turns out, there is.
What is Relovate?
What better way to find out what the service is than from Relovate itself? Here’s what the website’s About Us section has to say:
“Relovate inspires travelers to Stop Booking Around and take full control of trip planning and booking.”
The idea is a lofty one — book everything, plan everything, share everything from one single website. For the most part, Relovate delivers just that.
You can book not only services such as hotels, car rentals, and flights offered by traditional travel booking sites, but also city tours and excursions. The platform allows you to set a budget for your trip, share your travel plans and collaborate with others via the platform, email or chat, and even plan your meals and multiple trips at once. And limos. Did I mention you can book limos?
Here are the Relovate pros:
The Consider button: Have you ever checked on a flight that had the optimum timing, or a hotel that was in the exact location you needed for your dates — but you just wanted to see what else was available just in case you got a better deal? I do it all the time, but then can’t find that flight or hotel or dates I had looked at earlier. I’m a lookie-loo. And sometimes lookie-loos get lost on the internet in that quest for the ideal deal.
Enter the “consider” check-box. It shows up everywhere in Relovate. In the flights section, in the hotels section, in the activities section. For me it’s not only an ideal bookmarking tool for keeping choices handy for later perusal, but also for sharing with travel mates or family or friends what activities/hotels/flights, etc. work best for the group. I’d be surprised if other websites don’t swipe the idea — it’s that good.
Real-time Itinerary Collaboration: Travel partner on the other side of the globe? Or maybe just on the other side of the city and you guys are lazy? No problem. The ability to collaborate real-time will be a big draw for a lot of folks. I’m generally a solo traveller, but I can certainly see the appeal, and I believe this is a key area where Relovate certainly outshines other travel booking platforms.
Explorer section: Regretfully I admit I spent far too much time combing through this section. For someone who has called Bangkok home for much of this year, I learned more than a thing a two from Relovate’s detailled descriptions across categories such as Understand, Stay Safe, Connect, and Cope, among others. Seriously, you could spend hours here learning about your destination — I know I certainly did.
Relovate’s description of various types of people found on Bangkok streets is a fine example of the crafty wordplay I’ve grown to adore about these sections. Here’s their take on Yuppie…
“Yuppie — Like every other big city, Bangkok boasts a coterie of young professional types who are hip, well-educated and relatively affluent. Similar to the Expat, they usually sport business attire and are likely to be hurried — except they probably know a shortcut, and they aren’t sweating so profusely.”
The Map functionality: I like knowing exactly where I’m staying and the option to view a larger map of hotels within the city is greatly appreciated.
Areas for Improvement:
Currency: Since my starting point was in Canada, I would assume that the currency charged would be in Canadian dollars, but I could not tell for certain. It was only after I went to XE.com to check exchange rates that I could see I was being charged in US dollars. I know that might seem like a minor annoyance, but there is quite a difference at the moment between the US and the Canadian dollar. An option to change the default into your home currency would be nice.
Restaurants section: Most of the restaurants listed in the Bangkok section are in Thai, which makes sense if I’m pointing them out to a taxi driver, but having the English name as well would go a long way in planning. And while it was great to have some of the restaurants link out to their website, with those that had no website link it was often difficult to determine what type of food the establishment offered.
No Rewards Program: I book a lot of my hotels in Asia through Agoda because of the rewards program — it’s resulted in a few free nights at some pretty decent hotels over the years. I know Relovate is just starting out, but a similar rewards program to develop loyalty would be beneficial.
Explorer section: I know I put this under the pros section as well, but it deserves at least a mention here since some of the information is already out-of-date. Considering how in-depth the information is though for each city, I’m willing to overlook it. I have to say the information Relovate provided about cities like Bangkok, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur is spot on.
Here’s one example though of something that is slightly out-of-date:
“Several streets around the palace are closed, and the palace itself is reserved for mourning parties; however the adjacent temples remain accessible and indeed the National Museum has free admission until 31 Jan 2017. The mourning period will last at least one year, perhaps longer depending on arrangements for the late king’s cremation – construction for this only starts in February 2017.”
While Relovate in its present form won’t replace the travel booking sites that I currently use, I’ll certainly be adding it to my arsenal for future bookings. The “consider” button and the option to collaborate are not only unique, but actually useful as well. Check it out yourself when you get a moment at Relovate.com.
Note: Relovate compensated me for my honest review.