An Interview with Dan Gellert, Co-Founder of GateGuru

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No bones about it: waiting around at the airport stinks. While having to deal with the long lines full of cranky people, you’re probably lost and hungry, and perhaps even in need of a last-minute souvenir for Auntie Mae. What to do? You can suck it up, wander around aimlessly, and hope you find something, anything, that resembles what you’re looking for, or you can download GateGuru, an app for iOS and Android. NerdWallet recently named GateGuru a top travel app. Though historically called “Yelp for Airports”, GateGuru offers so much more than reviews of local airport amenities. We asked Dan Gellert, the brains behind GateGuru, to tell us more.

NerdWallet: What inspired you to invent a travel app?

Dan: I used to be a venture capitalist, and I spent a ton of time in airports. I’ve always been amazed at the lack of information available to travelers. Half the time, you don’t know where anything is or what’s going on with your flight. GateGuru fixes that problem by not only allowing you to find the amenities around you, but also giving you insider information on wait times at checkpoints, flight arrival and departure schedules, and important updates like gate changes.

How long has GateGuru been around?

We’ve been around for 2.5 years, and we’ve already come a long way since then. Our airport information is available for almost 200 airports, half of which are in the U.S. We used to be compared to Yelp a lot, which is fine, but our vision is not to be an app for airport retail, or even the airport in general, but to create an amazing experience for the traveler on their entire day of travel. We’ve already had lots of downloads, but we’re still working hard to create a fantastic product. We’re adding new features too, so we’re not just about airports anymore.

How is your app able to get real-time flight and airport information?

GateGuru lets you enter your flight number for a customizable experience, including relevant updates. We get all our flight information from a third party that aggregates information directly from several sources, including airports, airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). All that flight info used to be controlled by airlines. They’d tell you whatever they wanted you to know whenever they felt like it. GateGuru really breaks down that info wall and empowers travelers.

What makes you stand out from other travel apps?

Unlike a lot of other apps, we have no sponsored content. All our reviews come from users. We also have a great location-based deals platform. If you’re waiting in an airport, you can find good restaurants, and you may even be able to get a special discount on your meal. Lately, we’ve had the most growth with that part of the app, which has been really exciting for us.

Does GateGuru have a social element?

We didn’t want to be “just another social app”, so that’s not our primary focus. However, you can use GateGuru to connect to Twitter and Facebook and update your friends about your travel plans.

Tell us more about your High Flyers program

High Flyers get points for checking in at airports and taking photos. Eventually it will evolve into more of a next-generation travel loyalty program. Many travelers are competitive, always trying to one-up each other on where they’re going and what they’re doing. We’re trying to leverage that and make it fun. Accordingly, we’re looking to bring more gaming aspects to the app.

Any other new developments in the works?

We have a lot of reviews on GateGuru, but we’re becoming more of an app for the entire day-of-travel experience, not just an airport guide. We’ve grown along with the new direction that airports are moving in. Airport infrastructure has changed quite a bit in the last five years. Airports are building terminals with nicer amenities to encourage people to stick around. Places like JetBlue Terminal 5 at JFK and Terminal 2 in San Francisco are good examples. People are actually starting to pick airports for their amenities, and GateGuru really caters to this by providing a complete and easy-to-access guide of what’s available to them.