Social travel is a hot area for innovation in social media as a ton of startups launch services to make travel planning more efficient and effective by incorporating the latest social media tools and networks.
In the process, they're disrupting the established travel industry, including trip planners, travel agencies and rental services of all kinds. Even first-generation social travel sites like TripAdvisor with its millions of user-generated travel reviews face increased competition from travel social networks that have popped up in more recent years.
What Is Social Travel?
Social travel simply refers to information-sharing about travel. Typically, the new services include a website and mobile app and let you tap into your existing social networks on Twitter and Facebook for travel advice, as well as communicate with other travelers you've never met via the sites' own social travel network. Some are focused on bookings and rentals, but more are about discovery and sharing tools and aim to be your personal travelogue.
New social travel players like San Francisco-based Flights with Friends and India-based Trip Tern continue to pop up month after month.Since it can be hard to know which sites are worthy of attention because there are so many, we've compiled the list below of eight noteworthy innovators in social travel.
8 Top Social Travel Sites and Services
Trippy is a Pinterest-like, online service for planning trips that has tie-ins to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It helps people seek travel tips from their connections on those networks and others who have traveled to places they're considering going; it also offers itinerary-planning tools with social features. The interface looks like Pinterest with a visual grid of what it calls "travel boards," image collections from places you like or have visited. The website launched in 2011. Trippy also has a free iPhone app.
Everplaces is a Pinterest-like social network and mobile app aimed at letting you track places you've been or want to visit by category. It launched in closed beta in 2011 and to the public in 2012. The tagline gives you the basic idea: "Create your own collection of places you love." The Danish startupis all about location-based tracking and planning. Like Pinterest, it allows users to follow one another. Everplaces recently launched a business-oriented tool that lets people and businesses create mini-travel guides as apps for mobile phones
. Everplaces also is available as an iPhone app.
GoGoBot is one of the more popular travel apps, thanks partly to early integration with Facebook. It performs a similar service to Trippy but with a more original interface, well suited for planing trips. It launched in 2010 and looks more like TripAdvisor than Pinterest, with a focus on mini guides to particular destinations built around user reviews. GoGoBot also lets users book hotels while planning, create photo postcards for sharing, review venues, get "stamps" from places you visit and maintain a "passport" of places you've visited. In addition to the website, GoGoBot has an iPhone app.
TripIt is a social network for making itineraries and travel plans. It provides tools for converting your flight, hotel and rental car confirmations into mobile itineraries. TripIt has free mobile apps for the iPhone
, iPad and Android
AirBnB is a major innovative player in online rentals that lets people book space in other people's homes. It lets users create profiles and show their reviews of places they've rented and stayed. Launched in 2008, Airbnb had hundreds of thousands of listings in a couple hundred countries by 2012. Many listings are rooms inside private homes occupied by other people, but they also include full apartments and homes. Hosts and guests publicly rate each other after checkout, which helps with security. It was originally called Airbedandbreakfast and people often still call it air bed & breakfast. Airbnb has both iPhone
Airport Chatter is an example of a newer social travel app. Its a mobile airport app providing social networking features and airport terminal-related information to flyers. The free airport application launched at the end of 2012 and is available for the iPhone
, iPad and other Apple iOS devices.
TripAdvisor announced in October 2012 it was buying social travel startup Wanderfly, which is another Pinterest-like social network focused on travel recommendations. It offers hotel and flight booking capabilities in addition to its travel photo image pages.
WAYN stands for "Where Are You Now?" and is a social network for travel and lifestyles that launched in 2005, early in the social travel rush. It's more popular in the United Kingdom than the U.S. since it was founded in London.