App

Discover things to do – powered by ‘influencers’

Price: Free
Version: 1.9
Size: 78.2 MB
Developer: Dotspot Limited
Platform: iPhone / iPad

Dotspot

If there are two words most overused in modern social media it’s ‘influencer’ and ‘curation’. Despite claiming to be unique in being the first city guide powered by ‘influencers’ that have ‘curated’ recommended places to visit, we can’t help but be a bit cynical.

We liked that the maps weren’t overcrowded and we’d found some stuff we’d not seen before

So first, let’s start with what we liked about this tool. Firstly, it’s clean, and the map is neither overcrowded or sparse. If you find yourself in a fairly decent sized city and don’t know where to start to find somewhere to visit or to eat, then Dotspot is a good app to download for a quick-fire roulette-style recommendation.

When you tap through there’s plenty of information on the place, but also the person that recommended it

Secondly, the photos are great – better than most competing apps. If you search on your friendly neighborhood search engine for nearby restaurants you’re invariably provided with photos taken by unhappy customers with no time or desire to take nice photos. These photos are often either taken alongside a complaint or in poor lighting owed to the misjudged second bottle of rosé.

However, because all Dotspot recommendations have come from practiced Instagrammers who have directly chosen to plug in to Dotspot and make recommendations, their photos are vastly superior. Sure, quality lighting and editing might not be the truest indication of a great place to eat, but you’d hope they enjoyed it enough to make that effort.

Each Instagram user has their own Dotspot profile so you can see what else they’ve recommended and their Instagram info

Now, let’s put that cynical trilby back on snd revisit that earlier comment about roulette-style recommendations. Firstly, the term ‘influencer’. We found a couple of recommendations from profiles with 50k+ followers, but the vast majority were hovering around 1-2k followers. Is that an influencer now?

As for curation – some of the places on here are questionable. We were in London and saw that nearby there was a recommendation for Byron Burger. A chain with over 50 locations? Not exactly insightful. We wonder whether this influencer truly curates or just checks in wherever they may happen to be.

You can also see other top Instagram photos from that destination – beats Trip Advisor photos!

Secondly, in other locations we’re getting recommendations for the city – again, is this not too obvious a choice? However, we did get some recommendations to some cool beaches, interesting Chinese joints and other places which might seem a bit obvious to locals, but for travellers a little more interesting.

However, there’s so much about this app that could be improved, or is missing. For a start, it would be useful to have some kind of control over the influencers’ recommendations. Couldn’t users add their own kudos onto a recommendation so people don’t think they’re heading into a cool, hip indie burger joint when Byron crops up?

There’s loads of different types of places on there – though we do wonder why Instagram influencers would recommend an aquarium. We guess they are quite retro these days… and that’s… cool?

There is a choice to search for specific influencers but not many seem to be on Dotspot yet, and that doesn’t really help unless you know who you’re looking for. A better search function would be searching by activity, type or cuisine etc. However, if you find an influencer you like, they have the power to create curated lists which can be shared – useful if you’re looking for a list of options.

Overall, Dotspot will provide some easy options for travellers, and if you don’t expect too much from the app you might find it useful. We’ll be interested to see how it develops because in terms of overall usability, design and idea it’s got a lot of potential.

Dotspot Discovery – influencer-recommended activities
Good looking app, nice idea, relatively decent execution
For
  • Looks nice
  • Cool approach to discovery
Against
  • Can't search by anything other than influencers
  • Recommendations don't feel very curated
3.5Overall Score