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Internet, Marketing, social media, Travel & Tourism

Tripadvisor offers a glimpse into the future

By William Bakker | 07.12.10 | 4 Comments

Science fiction writer William Gibson once said “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” You can see what some of the future will look like with Tripadvisor’s ‘Trip Friends’.

About 7 years ago we ran some focus groups in San Francisco to learn more about the trip planning process. I remember that involving real people was a very important part of the process. I concluded that people prefer to talk to people in this order:

  1. People they know and live in the destination they want to visit
  2. People they know and have been in the destination they want to visit
  3. People they don’t know and live in the destination they want to visit
  4. People they don’t know and have been in the destination they want to visit

Tripadvisor is serving up information from group #4 very well; with it’s reviews and message boards. With their ‘destination experts’ on their message boards they also started using group #3.

Now Tripadvisor has also figured out a way to include groups #1 and #2, the most credible sources of information to a trip planner.

A few years ago, Tripadvisor bought the Facebook app “Where I’ve been” for a reported $3M. At the time it was a gimmicky app where you could plot pins on a map for places you’ve visited anywhere in the world. The app was successful because it taps into one key motivator for travel; making my friends and family jealous of the places I’ve been. Tripadvisor also bought it’s 2.3M users. Tripadvisor rebranded it “Cities I’ve visited” and incorporated it into it’s website and has done a decent job of improving it.

Users can add cities they’ve visited, where they want to go, their favourite cities and what cities they can give advise for. The app has an active userbase of 4.8M when I checked today. And I’m sure there are many more users on the Tripadvisor website. As a result, Tripadvisor has an incredible amount of intelligence about their member’s travel history and desires.

Tripadvisor has mashed up with own intelligence with Facebook’s through Facebook Connect and the Open Graph. When you log into Tripadvisor with Facebook connect, and you visit a city page, you’ll now see a list of your friends who:

  • live in a particular city
  • have a particular city listed as a favourite
  • have been to a particular city
  • are going to a particular city

    Tripadvisor allows you to use Facebooks social networking tools to send a message to one or more of your friends to ask for advise about your upcoming trip based on this information.

    Even though it’s a small step, it’s very useful and also a significant indicator of future possibilities for combining your own consumer data (like Tripadvisors data about where people have been) with Facebook’s social graph and social networking power.

    “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”

    Note: I intended to write this post much sooner. But the future is also unevenly distributed by individual and my attempts to login to Tripadvisor with Facebook connect has resulted in error messages for a month now. I’ve reported the error at least a dozen times but I had to resort to using my wife’s Facebook credentials to have a look at this feature.

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