German metasearch site for tours and activities PocketVillage
won first place at THack Vegas, combining five APIs to create a mobile-based destination product platform.
THack Vegas, produced in association with Travelport
, brought together developers from North America and Europe, and eleven APIs, many of which had never been made available before for open coding purposes.
PocketVillage used APIs from Viator, Kijubi, Rezgo, TourCMS and Google to build its hack, and presented via video from its hometown of Stuttgart in Germany.
The judges panel of Robert Cole (RockCheetah), Henry Harteveldt (Forrester) and Valyn Perini (OpenTravel Alliance and Tnooz) said:
"It was great to see that they provided users with the option to book directly from the app, go to the supplier website, or call using the phone. One of the challenges with metasearch is the quality of the destination website, so providing a telephone option is smart.
"It’s remarkable how many apps seem to forget that the device is also a phone. The graphical browsing, list filters and pictures were nice, with the inline availability, pricing & settlement, with email confirmation or on device display was impressively complete functionality given the limited amount of development time."
In second place was Kijubi with a social game and trip planning system based on the classic road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
The judges said:
"Using the Facebook API for collaborative social planning seemed like a good idea, but the Google Wave-style collaboration functionality that instantly refreshes across all users impressed.
"The ability to bookmark pages was also a nice feature, especially since the bookmarks could be any page, not just Kijubi pages, or anything associated with a map dot. Finally, the gamification using mystery dots was potentially interesting, but the analytics seemed to add more value. A solid effort."
Here is the presentation:
Other entrants in THack Vegas were:
The judges said each entry did a great job considering the limited development time made available as part of the competition.
"All entrants in the THack exhibited great creativity. The winners blended intelligent uses of technology, sharp focus on filling unmet consumer needs, and incorporated both mobile and social as core elements. It was a pleasure and a privilege to participate as a judge, and great fun as well."
PocketVillage CEO Florian Harkort says:
"We are totally blown away by making first prize at the THack event. The app we submitted just shows 5% of what we could do with it - so we NEVER expected this! THack was a fantastic opportunity to play with a couple of travel APIs, learn iPhone coding along the way, and finally present to a high-level auditorium.
Harkort says the company is now looking to develop the hack further into a fully fledged part of the business.
"Pocketvillage now wants to provide travellers with an easy and comprehensive tool to find, compare and book exciting things to do nearby. What started as a simple hack for the Tnooz THack event will now develop into a full-fledged mobile activities booking app.
"Obviously there are some challenges to solve first: Many tours lack precise geolocation data for start and end point. Many operators and intermediaries don't provide real-time availabilities; bookings rather need to be reconfirmed by the operator within 24 or 48 hours; this is due to a lack of online reservation/inventory management systems on the operator side.
"Few merchants provide a live booking API that could be integrated into a mobile app. Every provider uses his own data scheme (XML, API, CSV etc.), common standards are non-existent. So there have to be some hard nuts to crack first - but we'll take on the challenge!"