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TripAdvisor and Facebook Get Friendly

From From Kaleel

The travel news of the day is clearly the announcement of TripAdvisor’s deal with Facebook and the new introduction of TripAdvisor’s Trip Friends.

The Boston Business Journal went to far as to claim the Facebook-TripAdvisor partnership was “game changing,” and we think they’re right.
It does change the travel search paradigm.
It’s also a major and logical step for the review giant because research and anecdotal evidence has shown that travelers increasingly prefer to seek advice and information about a destination of property from friends, friends of friends, and family rather than a “results neutral,” impersonal search from Google.

Facebook’s “Cities I’ve Visited (CIV)” application drives the process, and it’s hugely popular. The Boston Business Journal reports that the three year old application has more than five million monthly active users, and highlights over one billion destinations that CIV travelers have visited.

It works this way. Sign into Trip Advisor and there’s a button that connects to Facebook. Then enter your TripAdvisor request, say San Francisco. Any Facebook “friend” that has been to San Francisco or who has identified it as a favorite will show up, and from there it’s possible to ask about hotels, cool clubs, restaurants, etc.

PhoCusWright, the travel industry’s leading market research company said that Trip Advisor’s move is a ” first for travel…the tip of the iceberg”
Travel is no longer about destinations, it’s about travelers sharing information about hotels, flights, activities and interests.

While travel advice has always been available from friends and family on Facebook and its CIV platform, the beauty of this is that one never has to leave TripAdvisor, so all the hot tips and advice from people who lived and loved in San Francisco are shared and saved to a special folder.

For years travelers searched Google or other data driven search engines for information. But the power of “crowd sourcing,” or, in social media terms,”the wisdom of the crowd” has emphasized personal connections as better sources of information rather than algorithmic results.

TripAdvisor CEO, Steve Kaufer confirmed the thinking behind the new program when he said that ten years ago, travelers were getting travel information from a travel agency. Then TripAdvisor made it so you could get the wisdom of everyone, but still strangers. Now, he says, you can get the wisdom of your specific friends.”

By personalizing the search, Kaufer has insured that tips about the best diving spot in Belize or the best baked sweets in Lisbon are shared by those who know by those who’ve been.

TripAdvisor, with its 34 million monthly visitors, and Facebook boasting profiles from more than half of US travelers, may well be ushering in a new age of advertising and booking revenues.

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