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OPLIN 4Cast #285: Travel guides for the adventurous

Posted in 4cast

Memorial Day is behind us and summer lies ahead, and that means the library shelves that usually hold travel guides are probably looking a little empty right now, though perhaps not as empty as in years past. The omnipresent smartphone is starting to make a big impact in the travel guide business, which makes good sense — if you’re carrying your phone anyway, why not load a travel guide on it? And some mobile travel guide apps are now trying to leverage user data to make the guides more personal and informative, with varying approaches and varying degrees of success.

  • Beyond textbooks, Inkling aims to revolutionize travel with Frommer’s digital guides (VentureBeat/Devindra Hardawar)  “In addition to creating notes just for yourself, you can also make them public, which adds an intriguing crowdsourcing element. It brings some of the interesting social elements from sites like TripAdvisor on top of Frommer’s professional travel guide data. Authors can also make their own notes within the digital books.”
  • Ex-Googlers launch mobile travel guide to kill Lonely Planet (Tech Crunch/Rip Empson)  “Thus, the Triposo algorithm takes travel information from seven of the biggest open source aggregators (and several closed resources as well) and serves its users with content that’s relevant for them. Without any human interference, Triposo COO Richard Osinga tells me, the startup produces travel guides, with information on sightseeing, nightlife and restaurants, all ordered by Triposo’s algorithm — and complete with an easy-to-use (and offline-enabled) map.”
  • Review: Toozla (All About Symbian/Ewan Spence)  “Sitting alongside the ‘what’s near you’ experience of Toozla is the ‘streams’ experience. These are grouped audio clips that tell the story of a location from all the audio clips that are in an area. That story could be of the tourist sites and sounds, the local weather, or the user generated content created around where you are standing. While some of the audio notes are original vocals, the majority that I came across were entries adapted from Wikipedia and passed through a text to speech engine.”
  • Map2app, your own mobile travel guide (Wired Italian Valley)  “In brief, they are striving to be the WordPress of mobile travel guides. Whoever has good content about a territory can sign up for free, upload the content and publish it as a native application for the most popular mobile platforms, without needing any coding skills. The result is an app that tells about places, events and ‘stories’ within a territory, enriched with images, audio and video.”

Traveler fact:
According to a recent study, 15% of social media users have downloaded a phone app specific to a particular vacation destination.