HopStop, which was created in 2005 as a point-to-point transit routing website, has given itself a few facelifts over the years as it tries to stay unique and relevant in its increasingly crowded niche. The company announced another one yesterday, partnering up with big names like Yelp!, Hertz, Limos.com and Zvents, to become a “general lifestyle app.”
With newly introduced features, users will be able to track local events, take advantage of local daily deals, receive geotargeted advertising, rent cars by the hour, and enjoy advanced search capabilities and detailed navigation for more modes of transportation (regional bus, train, etc..). Direct check-ins aren’t yet available, but users can now post upcoming travel plans to their Twitter and Facebook accounts from HopStop. The service also announced its expansion into 20 new cities (bringing its total to 57).
By offering more information about different modes of travel, HopStop hopes to further differentiate itself from Google Maps. It’s an uncertain strategy, since tickets for many carriers are usually secured by going directly to the provider (Greyhound, Amtrak). Still, for avid users, HopStop’s single point of entry for travel could prove attractive.
This new content mishmash is also risky, not because it will confuse users, but because if even one new aspect of the site’s functionality works poorly, is error-prone or difficult to use, potential HopStop fans may jump to one of many other companies offering similar content. Fortunately, HopStop is known for its speedy and open response to user issues, which has helped it survive and thrive in the past six years.
In a move that seems utterly at odds with the flow of consumer tech, though, HopStop says that it still has no concrete plans for integration of these new functionalities into its mobile apps. In an interview with the New York Times, CEO Joe Meyer emphasized that the lion’s share of programming efforts would focus on HopStop’s website presence, explaining that they “have always been a Web-first company.”