New app allows away-game rentals for students with extra room

Many students face lodging predicaments when heading out of town for away games. Hotels are pricey and heading home right after a game isn't always the most comfortable option for many. A new app, Spots, allows students to crash on each other's couches. 

The Spots app was designed to make student travel easier and more feasible. The app is designed exclusively for college students and requires a verification via university email address and Facebook account. Both hosts and guests must be college students to use the app, to ensure safety. The app allows you to have your house open for guests and just at the click of a button your house can be closed to those looking for a place to stay.

Yannis Bhargouti was in his dorm room at Georgia Tech in 2015 when he came up with idea for the Spots app. He now works in Atlanta with another founder, Lucas Parker, to continue the app's improvement.

“There were a lot of trials and tribulations,” said Parker. “It took a long time to actually develop the app, but we were able to get a developer that was on board with our idea and run with it. That’s what it takes. You need people who are invested in the idea and want to make it work.”

Since 2015, the app has grown to over 150 locations, including major cities like Los Angeles and Boston, with locations in 23 states. Since its release on the App Store in March 2016, there have been several updates to ensure a professional and trustworthy app.

“We are building on it every single day, trying to improve it,” said Parker. “We are constantly building on it, and we have a few ideas in store for the future.”

Soon, the Spots app will implement a social chat functionality that allows students to communicate with other students in cities around the country before they even arrive. If you decide you want to visit New York for a weekend, you can message ahead to see where the best pizza place in town is. The messaging function is meant to encourage an interaction between hosts and guests before they even meet, said the developers. 

Parker said that Spots is a social app at its core and is meant to be a way for college students who have never spoken before to meet up and share experiences. Touring a new city with a local is an opportunity you don’t always have, so it’s a new concept to try, Parker said.

Several UA students expressed interest in using the app ahead of the next gameday weekend. 

“From this experience, I would expect to meet new people, learn about new cultures and gain knowledge on a little bit of history from the place I visit,” said Christina Sciaroni, a senior double-majoring in biology and secondary education with a minor in physics. “If I could message ahead to the host, I would probably ask them what makes the place they live special to them, why they suggest visiting and what unique experiences the area has to offer.”

Nick Kertson, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, said he would utilize the Spots app to travel across the country and check out other gameday experiences.

“I would go to southern California, maybe to the University of Southern California or to the University of California in Los Angeles,” Kertson said. “I would expect to check out the campus and get some local food. And if it was in the fall, I would like to experience how they do gamedays. I think it would be a great time."

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