Exvana is the Internet’s newest (and self proclaimed) “premier source for recreational rentals, activities, guides and tours offered by local businesses and individual owners across North America.” It’s a site for connecting outdoors lovers with rentals, tours, guides, and accommodations in North America which, cording to their about page, contains “over 15,000 listings offering over 75,000 rentals and activities”.
Businesses and individuals can create profiles for their services and users can search the database for the services that best fit their needs. So, if you have a couple of extra kayaks in the garage that you’d like to rent out, you can put up a listing. If you know the mountain biking trails around your city like the back of your hand, you can put up a listing for a guiding service. Think AirBnB.com for adventure services.
How does it work?
The average user can simply browse the website by activity and area to find information about businesses and people renting equipment and offering tours in an area. For example, when I search for bicycle tours in Salt Lake City, Exvana gives me 15 listings. Each listing includes a description of rentals and services offered by the company and contact information. Users can also rate each business and write reviews. Pretty simple.
If you want to take your Exvana experience to the next level, you can log in to create your own account. With your own account you can add a profile picture, description of yourself, and maintain a list of your favourite activity categories for faster searching.
If you want to list your rental or service on Exvana, the experience is also quite simple. You click on the ‘Get Listed’ link and then fill out a series of forms about your business, and pay for your listing which, at $4.99per month or $49.99 per year, is pretty easy on the pocketbook.
The paid listings receive priority in search results, a more detailed profile than the existing profiles (presumably added by the staff), and colour photographs (as opposed to the generic icons that represent most services in the listings).
The design is clean and attractive and the interface is easy to use. Creating a free account, managing a user profile, and creating a business listing are all simple, easy, and fast.
The simplicity and ease-of-use come partially from the fact that there are few options for customization and interaction. Although users can create profiles, there is little that they can do with them. There is no way to follow or interact with other users, which would be useful if one wanted to, say, ask for the opinion of somebody else who had rented Bill’s kayak for the day.
So, although Exvana does what it does quite well, I think that it could be improved. I’d like to be able to find out which of my Facebook friends are on Exvana and connect with them there. I’d like to know if my friends checked in on FourSquare at the tour that I’m considering buying, so I can ask them what they thought. And, I’d really like to meet others who are looking for kayaks in Salt Lake City so that we have the chance to interact and become real-life kayaking buddies.
It wouldn’t be fair to expect such a young website to have developed that far in such a short period of time — but as long as I’m writing a review of it, I’m definitely going to make my opinion known. Exvana is a good website for connecting individuals with services that they’re looking for, but it has the potential to be much more. If Exvana can create the tools that will enable adventure-lovers to interact, swap tips, and meet up, I can see it growing into a thriving community (and very profitable business).