TripAdvisor leads the travel social network pack with a whopping 60 million travel reviews and opinions from travelers around the world, and it is showing no signs of slowing down, especially with an IPO in its near future. Despite its success, I can't help but think the travel review giant hasn't evolved much with the social discovery times.
According to Travelsat, 38% of travelers choose their destination based on friends' and relatives' recommendations, making it the No. 1 factor in determining one's vacation destination. If that's the case, then why turn to TripAdvisor, where, after a quick spin on the site, you fear you're getting travel advice from either a fanny pack-sporting has-been or a fraud-happy hotel manager pretending to be a satisfied traveler? It's not quite the hippest or truly reliable travel resource.
Enter Gogobot. A site founded on the idea that “almost any place you want to go, you probably know someone who's been there.” CEO Travis Katz has made a smart bet that people will rely on a friend's travel advice over a stranger's.
Named one of Time's top sites of 2011 and hailed as “Pinterest for your travels,” Gogobot is chock full of social features making both planning and sharing your travels easy and downright fun. It checks all the online travel 3.0 boxes with:
-Gogobot passport lets you collect all the places you've been with photos and reviews all in one place.
-The iOS app allows users to snap photos and apply Instagram-like filters to make geo-tagged postcards.
-Gogobot incorporates Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, which might be my favorite feature, as it stores all those in-the-moment activities in what ends up looking like a stylized virtual travel scrapbook.
Most recently, the site has partnered with Flipboard, making post-vacation storytelling easier and more comprehensive with magazine-style spreads of users' travels.
So, why pay attention to a site that near-IPO TripAdvisor eclipses? Well, it has raised a sizeable Series B funding round of $15 million, with total funding at just under $20 million. And its user base has grown 10 times in the last six months, making it the largest social travel site on the Internet.
If that doesn't convince you to perk up and check it out, think about how Gogobot spans all stages of online travel engagement. From planning, to enjoying and sharing, and ultimately reminiscing about your travels, Gogobot is a one-stop bot, making it a trifecta marketing opportunity for brands looking to connect with travelers.
Victoria Graham is VP of digital solutions at Bite Communications North America.