Don’t be a Tourist, Connect with the Locals…

September 20, 2007

Jeff Goldsmith, a friend of mine from San Francisco yesterday launched his new company VIAMIGO. Jeff talked to me about his new ideas many months back, and what really excited me about it is the concept of travellers connecting with locals. Leveraging technology to create an amzing travel experience where residents invite travellers and show their hospitality. We all know that the best travel experiences are the ones when we are emerged in the destination, and when we get away from the the traditional tourist spots to getting to explore the hidden secrets beyond the beaten path. Well, in the age of convergence, VIAmigo is attempting to exactly do that. The site helps global travelers find authentic, local experiences and insider adventures – by connecting them with personal tour guides from everywhere by going beyond the guidebook. Pre-launch, VIAmigo signed up 1500 tour guides from every corner of the planet – with a great many more expected soon. Professional tourist guides to diving instructors to archeologist to connoisseurs of every sort, you name the adventure. Private Guides is

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another site that offers private tour guides all over the world, but not necessarily on a budget.

According to Jeff, “Usually, unless you know someone who lives in the city or find a helpful native in a tiny village, you would be unlikely to find some of the

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fantastic local haunts and beautiful natural spots which are off the tourist trail. The thinking behind VIAmigo is that we allow you to easily connect with professional guides and local cognoscenti. Everyone wants to go beyond the guidebook and package tour on their next trip, and now you can, whether you’re a business traveler with an extra day or an adventurer with a month to explore,”

Why got me excited about VIAmigo when Jeff first told me about his idea? Well, I think Destination Marketing Organizations need to go beyond brochureware and find a way to leverage technology to allow travellers to connect with locals. That is relationship management. I would love to have such a “one-to-one destination marketing platform” – we are working on it with our community platform, which will go well beyond our current Blogging platform on Canada.travel (which is still one one of the few national and regional tourism organizations that allows for user-generated content).

TripIt launches

September 18, 2007

New online travel start-up TripIt has received quite some buzz over the past few weeks, and officially launched at the TechCrunch40 event in San Francisco (40 invited start-ups present their ventures).

How does it work? Well, TripIt is an intelligent travel organizer that helps do-it-yourself travelers manage their travel plans so that their trips go more smoothly. Travelers simply forward their purchase confirmation emails to TripIt and TripIt automatically creates master itineraries with travel plans and other critical information like weather, maps and driving directions, and destination information.
TripIt makes it easy for travelers to print or access their trip plans from anywhere including online, in print and on their web-enabled mobile devices. They can also share itineraries and travel calendars and collaborate on planning trips with friends in their TripIt network. Have a look at a sample itinerary or view the demo.

Tim O’Reilly wrote on his blog:
“There’s a kind of magic to forwarding on a travel confirmation from an airline or a hotel reservation and having them aggregated into an itinerary, along with automagically-added maps of the destination, local weather, and other useful information. I’ll often put together a packet like this for a trip I’m taking, but that’s

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a manual process.”

Some great backing, and a distinguished management team with the co-founder of Hotwire. I received beta testing access some time back, and of course played around with

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it. I think it is a great platform and neat technology execution…but then I ask myself: Is this it? Is this enough to create a sustainable B2C business model? Maybe I am missing something, but I see this as a great plug-in for other travel sites, or even travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, car rental), or even corporate travel planners. Maybe that is their plan, but I couldn’t find any evidence. So when I was contacted by TripIt to write about the launch (like so many other bloggers probably as well), I thought, why not ask the question: “Is this it?”

Here is what came back:

Sure, there’s lots more to it than itineraries… it automatically gives weather, directions, destination information, maps… and we also say it has a “social twist” in that it allows you to share your trips with friends and let them see your calendar, or have them collaborate on trips with you.”

You judge for yourself if this

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model can exist as a stand-alone business. Maybe it can, but I think the true opportunity is partnering with other organizations. Maybe call the guys at Kayak or Tripadvisor…

But definately a cool technology. Some of the key capabilities include its Calendar Integration. If you use Google Calendar, Outlook 2007 or any calendar that supports the iCalendar standard, you can now automatically sync your personal calendar with your TripIt travel plans.

Feel free to read the entire press release below.

Ground-breaking new book in online travel and tourism…

September 9, 2007

In the world of mass collaboration, the best of travel and tourism related blogs will be available for print for marketers in the travel, tourism, and hotel industry…

What is the T-List? The T-List is a list of travel and tourism related blogs, which was first established by Mathieu at the Radar Blog (based in Quebec, Canada), and then I (based in Vancouver, Canada) put the T-List on Facebook. So the T-List was born and nurtured in Canda, and embraced by travel-relatede bloggers world-wide. Lots of T-List bloggers have signed up on Facebook, and the T-List has become an inofficial community. Even though there has been some controversy about the T-List as a concept, the power of sharing thoughts and connecting with fellow Travel and Tourism bloggers is undenieable. Now, we are looking to consolidate the best posts from these T-List blogs to share with the travel and tourism industry worldwide in a new book, titled “Tips from the T-List”. Since the T-List was born in Canada, it is only natural that the new book “Tips from the T-List” would launch at the fist Canadian e-Tourism Strategy Conference, Canada-e-Connect. The knowledge and expertise of these bloggers is amazing and covers many different areas of focus. We hope that this new book will become a little nuggget for travel, tourism, and hospitality marketers. In the world of mass collaboration, and since the keynote speaker at the Canada’s first e-Tourism

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Strategy Conference is Anthony Willaims, the author of the bestseller “Wikinomics”, we had the idea to put his thoughts into action and lead with a good example and have all T-List bloggers collaborate to create this guide of current oneline marketing trends in travel and tourism via the various blogs.

Stephen Joyce (who had the idea of the book) as publisher, as well as Mathieu Ouellet and I as editors are spearheading the initiative to publish this book for the Canada-e-Connect Conference on November 7-9 in Vancouver. The book will be a collection of 100 (or so) of the best posts from T-List bloggers who are the actual authors of the book. The audience for the book is executives, marketers, and decision makers from the travel and tourism industry. Topics will include customer trends, emerging technologies, e-marketing tips, social media, new and ground breaking webiste reviews, etc. The book is a promotional piece and will not be sold, but attendees at the Canada-e-Connect Conference in Vancouver will get an exclusive print copy as part of their attendance. Additional copies will be made available at the contributing T-List bloggers website as an e-book download.

This is very exciting initiative as the book will bring together the power of collective thought and collaboration, which is intensified when it is condensed into an

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10 Future Web Trends

September 7, 2007

An excellent article about the FUTURE WEB TRENDS.

What then can we expect from the next 10 or so years on the Web? The
biggest impact of the Web in 10 years time won’t necessarily be via a
computer screen – our online activity will be mixed with our
presence, travels, objects you buy or act with. We’re

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well into the current era of the Web, commonly referred to as Web
2.0. Features of this phase of the Web include search, social networks,
online media (music, video, etc), content aggregation and syndication
(RSS), mashups (APIs), and much more. Currently the Web is still mostly
accessed via a PC, but we’re starting to see more Web excitement from
mobile devices (e.g. iPhone) and television sets (e.g. XBox Live 360).

Our lifes are definately getting more digital. In a different survey by Datamonitor/Dimension Data, research reveals that 100% of the end-users
surveyed use e-mail, followed by fixed-line telephones (80%), mobile
telephones (76%) and instant messaging (66%).

The 10 referenced trends include:

1. Semantic Web
2. Artificial

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3. Virtual Worlds
4. Mobile
5. Attention Economy
6. Web sites as Web

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services
7. Online Video / Internet TV
8. Rich Internet Applications
9. Internation Web
10.Personalization

Toronto’s Virtual City Guide

September 3, 2007

I just came across a new City Guide for Toronto, called STREETS.TO.

 

The innovative website, billed

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as the world’s “first and only patent-pending virtual cityscape,” is best described as a tourist-friendly version of Google Earth. You begin your visit to the site by hailing a virtual taxi (Beck, a popular Toronto company), which then “drives” you around to various restaurants, nightclubs and attractions. The cab stops in front of an accurate depiction of each hot spot. Click on the picture and you’ll get interior shots, menus and contact info. So before you waste your money on a real cab, you’ll know if it’s for you. The site just launched a few months ago, so destination choices are limited. But it’s a cool concept and worth a look.