Social Media Strategies Travel 2008 SpecialIt was in September last year when TripIt (www.tripit.com), the first online service that automatically organises all of travel information into a master travel itinerary – no matter where you booked, was introduced.

Published: 11 Apr 2008

Social Media Strategies Travel 2008 Special

It was in September last year when TripIt (www.tripit.com), the first online service that automatically organises all of travel information into a master travel itinerary – no matter where you booked, was introduced.

In February, this year, the company launched a new business travel service at http://business.tripit.com that helps business travelers, road warriors and travel arrangers simplify and organise their business trips. The company is also helping travelers to stay connected with the release of its location-based social "Closeness" alerts.

TripIt's chief executive officer and co-founder Gregg Brockway recently attended EyeforTravel's Social Media Strategies Travel 2008 Conference. He spoke to EyeforTravel.com's Ritesh Gupta in an interview. Excerpts:

Ritesh Gupta: Some content works at the visceral level, some at the functional level, and some at the self-reflective level. What would you recommend when it comes to shaping content on UGC sites?

Gregg Brockway: Automation. Don't require users to create content from scratch. At TripIt we automatically create master travel itineraries just by users forwarding their individual travel confirmation emails. It's a simple but valuable lesson for any user-generated strategy.

Ritesh Gupta: Do you think it is critical to have a content architecture paradigm that can fit into a flexible delivery system, one that allows for modification and experiment, and one that produces actional data that guides decisions?

Gregg Brockway: Yes. Users should have a way to quickly rate content and only see what they want to see. At TripIt we give users the ability to rank (1-5 stars) how accurately we processed their travel confirmation emails. Another example is our city guides, which we dynamically create based on content from Wikipedia, Flickr and Eventful.

Ritesh Gupta: As far as content is concerned, do you think the best one is having mix of expert, client-generated, and user-generated content that exists in a fluid state?

Gregg Brockway: Definitely, with the user always being in control. At TripIt, we automatically add daily weather, maps and directions, and city guides to each itinerary. Users then have the option of adding their own information or sharing and collaborating with friends for additional information.

Ritesh Gupta: Do you recommend spending money for sourcing your own content or would you let your customers create your content instead?

Gregg Brockway: A combination works best. At TripIt we automatically provide the content that we've described above, but then let users add additional destinations, maps, directions, restaurants, meetings, activities...even links to other web sites...to complete their itinerary.

Ritesh Gupta: In your opinion, how are trip planning tools allowing consumers to plan and successfully execute their complete travel experience? Do you think web 2.0 need to work in this arena (offering tools to consumers)?

Gregg Brockway: We certainly hope so. TripIt is a Web 2.0 tool for the travel market. There are a lot of booking tools and a lot of travel advice tools, but not much available to help travelers organize their trip details, share trips with friends and colleagues, and ultimately have better trips.

Ritesh Gupta: How is the growth of technology enhancing the ease of content sharing from consumer's perspective?

Gregg Brockway: It's really helped. We see TripIt as a small example of how the Semantic Web is developing. By automatically processing emails and extracting key data elements, we're able to automatically gather related information from all over the Web. Then we help people access that information via print, online, email and mobile, and rely on standards like iCal and hCalendar microformats to integrate with other online services. And behaviourally, the acceptance of online travel and growing interest in social networking makes this a hot area.

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