It’s almost hard to remember a time before TripAdvisor and there’s no question that since they started 15 years ago peer endorsement is increasingly becoming the preferred and natural way to discover new experiences. Our reliance on ‘people like us’ means that we are on the constant lookout for ways to access locals who can “tell it like it is.”
A further sign that trusting peers is gaining real traction was the recent purchase of Tripbod by TripAdvisor. Tripbod knows that visiting somewhere when you know someone who lives there makes all the difference and that’s exactly what it sets out to offer. Based on what you choose to share about yourself, the local Tripbod expert creates a personalised set of recommendations such as restaurants, great places to shop, cultural hotspots etc. Interestingly Tripbod is now also offering physical experiences on the ground. Each Tripbod will be able to create his or her own shop to offer tailor-made experiences – think of it as an eBay-style experience to discovering new and exciting places.
For those who like their experiences a little more hedonistic, Zoola Fix would be just the ticket. Users pay for nights out with ‘Fixers’ as part of a community marketplace. There are 3 simple steps: Locate a Fixer; book them and then party until you drop! As founder Richard Walker-Smith likes to point out “Fixers aren’t innocent bystanders, they’re in the club until the lights come on and they’re not satisfied until they’ve found an after party.” Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
All that partying can work up a bit of an appetite but you want to make sure you go somewhere that only the locals know. The aptly-named Great Little Places (GLP) is an app that is the equivalent of a crowdsourced restaurant finder in the local area. The principle sounds great but we’re not sure that the reality is quite there yet. When we road-tested the app, we found the eateries featured less “charming off the beaten track places” – more standard fare, but we’re willing to keep monitoring because we love the idea and we love our food!
Kate’s Goodness is another peer endorsement app – this time visually-led via an Instagram-like format. The app shows your potential destinations as a photo with a written description and location map. After visiting these destinations visitors can vote ‘Goodness’ or ‘Not Quite’ and writers earn or lose points accordingly. A place can only be written about once. From that point, it “belongs” to that writer. This ability to monetize suggestions makes Kate’s Goodness an interesting one to watch.
Hotels are acutely aware of the ‘local knowledge’ trend and many are trying to jump onto this bandwagon in a way that is authentic and credible. Some chains are seeking to do this by launching new ‘verticals’ within a parent brand. Hyatt Centric is one such example with locations in Chicago and now Miami South Beach. Location is key to these properties and Hyatt is ensuring that they will be located in the heart of their destination. The design of their public areas such as lobbies and bars are designed to encourage socialising and to ensure that these hotels become destination hubs for locals so guests can mingle with them and feel part of the whole local vibe.
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