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Group Messaging: SXSW’s Hot Topic And Good News For Travel

Group Messaging: SXSW’s Hot Topic, And Good News For Travel

It’s not easy to wrap your mind (or your body) around this year’s South by South West (SXSW) music festival and industry conference just completed in Austin, Texas.

There seemed to be, as Allison Fenterstock writes in NOLA, more official showcases, more films, more book signings, smart phone apps, fashion expos and lots and lots of stuff than ever before.

And big time traffic jams.

The Los Angeles Times made a big stink about keynote speaker, Sir Bob Geldof’s comments that there is too music being produced today.

The knighted singer-songwriter compared the output to “the half-witted mutterings of the village idiot in the dark corner of the local pub.”

Tempting though it is to follow the ins and outs of SXSW, we asked a colleague of ours, Eric Leist, who was in Austin, to talk to us about any travel-related discoveries coming out of the week-long event.

His opinion? Group Messaging (GM) was the hot topic.

There are already a slew of Group Messaging apps on the market like Beluga, KiK, Fast Society and the apparent leader, GroupMe.

And unlike Twitter, which is not really designed for collective conversation (great as a status update) with multiple people, Group Messaging is.

As Mike Melanson writes in Read Write Web, Group Messaging allows the user to communicate with the specific group of people he or she wants to. “You’re sending out a message,” he says, “that arrives as an interruptive SMS on the phones in your friends’ pockets.”

In effect, the app creates and reorganizes social circles.

So if you send a message to your Group, not only does everyone get it, the entire group sees everyone else’s responses. Imagine how this can facilitate “meet up” action.

How does this relate to travel?

• Instead of texting or calling each and every friend about your upcoming trip to Denver, your Group Messaging, lets all your Denver friends and family know your plans at once, with one message. And everyone sees what everyone else is replying, so coordinating is simpler.

• Say you want to organize a family reunion or surprise birthday party. You create a Group or “pod” of those involved, and set up the event without the hassle of calling everyone individually and everyone is in on the conversation.

• Since Group Messaging works on Wi-Fi, users can stay in touch with friends and family internationally without exorbitant phone bills or data charges

Eric Leist who watched the discussion closely while at SXSW notes that while the technology behind GM is not “earth shattering,’ it’s a useful “mobile chat room people are using in innovative ways, like allowing “spin up” groups to form around shared interests and affinities.

And for us, that’s good news for travel and travelers.

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