Booking a B&B… on Your iPhone!
B&B Ireland now offers a free app in the iTunes Store that lets you browse and book B&Bs from your iPhone or iPod Touch. I’ve noodled around with it a bit, and I’m happy to say it delivers a clean interface with an abundance of features.
All the Features of the Website
Firstly, hat’s off to B&B Ireland for making their entire database of accommodations available for browsing… that gives me over 1,100 accommodation choices. Even better, I can book right in the app!
Several Ways to Search
The “Search” feature allows me to choose a county, date, number of guests, number of rooms, and currency (Euros, US Dollars, or British Pounds). The search can take a few seconds, but results appear with a list that includes B&B name, preview image of the property, star rating, and price per person. I appreciate being able to sort by price, star rating, and name. The app also lets you filter the search by Town House, Country House, or Farm House.
When I select a property, I get nearly all the details that appear on the B&B Ireland website! The sections I didn’t see were the “Activities” and “Special Offers” tabs from the website (maybe we’ll see those in the next version of the app). I’m not sure I can express how excited I was when I saw they included ALL that in their mobile app. This app does not take the back seat to the B&B Ireland website… it’s a full, mobile extension of it!
That means I can view description, directions, address, contact info, proprietor name, sat nav (GPS) coordinates, map view, ammenities, reviews, and galleries (I just wish more properties posted more than one photo and more guests posted reviews).
While in Ireland, “B&Bs Near Me” feature is especially nice as it uses your phone’s GPS location to recommend places within 25, 50, 75, or 100 km from your current location… just click the pins in the map. There is also a “Browse” feature which puts you two clicks away from viewing accommodations in any county… unfortunately, some of the information runs off the screen, so sometimes you won’t quite know all the options until you click through. I’m happy to see the app makes it easy to call or email a B&B with just a click.
As for performance, I was satisfied with the overall speed of the app over the 3G network, and it’s slightly faster on wifi. The booking feature took longer to load than other sections which could be frustrating while traveling, but it did work well. The “Useful Info” section is stuck in “coming soon” mode at moment… one of my app and website pet peeves. We’ll forgive them because the app lets me add a B&B to “Favorites” to browse later… a feature not available on the website.
It’s important to note that the app requires an open wifi connection for iPod Touch/iPhone devices or access to cellular data for iPhones. For those traveling from outside Ireland, that means you’ll need to either search for open wifi or make sure you have a data plan that will support usage if you plan to use the app during your travels. Of course, you are subject to call and data rates if you decide to make a phone call or use this app over the mobile network.
The app does not let the user adjust font size, so users who struggle with readability when using apps may have similar issues with this one… especially in sections where green text appears over a faded B&B Ireland logo. Otherwise, this app easy to use and information is simple to follow.
Download the Correct App
When in the App Store, be sure you download the app named “B&B Ireland – Bed and Breakfast Ireland.” There is another free app called “B&B Ireland” that is not worth the time it takes to download. This one stands out on the page… it has the attractive B&B Ireland logo (vs the amateurish looking logo of the other app).
I must admit, if you’re looking for a comprehensive B&B app in Ireland that best uses the available features of your iPhone, this is it… need I say more?
Note:according to B&B Ireland, there are currently no plans for developing an app for Android devices.