What travel networks are doing wrong
comment 4 Written by on February 17, 2010 – 6:08 pm

Where next? A video introduction to the semantic web (aka Web 3.0)


Thanks for everyone who commented on the Guardian Travel Blog looking at ‘where we are now’ with travel networking. So far we’re up to 40-plus comments  and it seems everyone had something interesting to say.

So where are travel networks going wrong? Here are some early conclusions:

  • There’s an overwhelming amount of information. It’s hard to find what we want. 
  • They aren’t personalised. We want to be able to filter according to budgets and taste. 
  • The quantity of tips often outweighs quality.
  • Some offer incentives for members who post the most, encouraging people to post for the sake of it.
  • Niche sites often aren’t active enough to sustain interest.
  • We find it hard to trust information from users we know nothing about.

It’s no longer enough to just ‘collect’ information. These sites need to do something with it. At the moment there are too many copycat networks. Someone needs to come in and shake it up again. I feel like a kid in the back of a car crying "Are we nearly there yet?" about Web 3.0. (Yes, I’m the ultimate backseat driver telling people how to run their travel networks when I’d never dare make one myself.)

Yesterday when I asked people on Twitter who they trusted for travel tips, someone came back with ‘friends and locals’. I’d say it depends on whether your friends and local contacts share your taste. A friend could recommend somewhere with the very best of intentions but completely miss the mark for you. That’s certainly happened to me before. 

Rummble looks like a promising step forward. According to one blog commenter: "Their mobile app is supposed to guess what kind of place you’re looking for based on time of day, past behaviour and the opinions of contacts." Apparently you build up a "trust network" by rating other users’ tips. Interesting…

And then there’s Google Buzz. Well, that certainly doesn’t seem to be doing anything to streamline people’s networks. Instead it wants to keep you in eternal contact with just about everyone you ever sent an email to. Also it suddenly gives you access to everyone’s Reader, but what if they only like reading about rugby? That’s of no use to me. Google made a massive PR faux pas by trying to take too much control and not allowing us to opt in. They automatically signed us up to their battle against Facebook whether we liked it or not.

Yes, in some ways we want our social networks to be ahead of us and coming up with helpful suggestions, but they can’t too cocky and take over. They must know their place: we are the masters; they are the helpful servants.  Ok, these servants could turn around and blackmails us any day with the obscene amount of personal data they have gathered up, but still we like to pretend we’re boss.

In case you missed it, there’s was an excellent Facebook v Google debate on the Times website earlier this week.

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4 Responses to “What travel networks are doing wrong”

  1. Well I’d argue what travel networks need is strong editing. It’s what information you’ve got or how much of it you’ve got – it’s how you package it up. Someone needs to sift through the morass and present it in an easily readable format (ie. Ten great places to stay in Copenhagen, five activities in Cape Town, how to do Sydney on a budget).

    But, sigh, that’s more expensive than User Generated Content, isn’t it?

  2. Yep good point, David. Some sites do this to a certain extent. But the trouble is funds/manpower, as you say, and b) being tied into existing platforms/technology. As we move into the next phase (whatever it will be), it will be adapt or die. It’s scary how fast things move though.

    By Vicky Baker on Feb 18, 2010 | Reply
  3. travels networks help you to find the exact information about the travel places and gives all you need to travel,so that you will be benefited here easily ,and will not to go to any other place .

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    Cape Town Accommodation says:
    “Interesting post, we shall be following your blog more closely in future! Best Wishes from Cape Town ”

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