TripSay, a Finnish social travel service that gives its users destination recommendations based on other users’ travels whose profile matches theirs, launches for the public tonight at 12am (Standard GMT+2; Summer GMT+3). Already earlier on they got TechCrunched among other news.
The service has clear and intuitive design and all the features that you’d expect from a such service, thus everything seems to be in place as long as the idea in itself will work. The make-or-brake question is whether TripSay can attract travelers beyond the web savvy kind that sign up to anything and everything new just to try it out and the travel industry professionals looking to fill their own guides.
In the larger sceme of things the success of TripSay like travel services depend on individuals’ desire to share their travel insights. Not purely locations where travelled, but real insights. In other words, whether such social travel services will take-off comes down to travelers’ ability to see more value in the service than they do in the Lonely Planet brigade after the initial Wow. It’s a debate worth having: Whether people in general want to share the real gems home and away, and whether the frequent travelers want to channel the entire Ryanair or EasyJet fleet to that little cozy street cafe that has the best cinnamon rolls in the planet where they like to visit every time they fly via Budabest. In the short term perhaps for while, but long term is tricky.
The service might be good at recommending you destinations (which is nice in itself), but I personally want to know what to do and where to go when I get there. The point is this: Photos (think Flickr) might increase in value when shared with a close circle of friends the more they comment on them, but a small cafe or a restaurant let alone a secret powdery slope in Chamonix or Whistler hardly will in the same manner; you need the critical mass to benefit from the TripSay’s service since not all your friends have travelled where you’re going and when opened up to the larger public the venues only move from authentic and cozy to touristy and over crowded. Can TripSay draw a balance between not too much and just enough?
If TripSay can pull the trick and get people to come back to share their insights, I will never use Lonely Planet with it’s dedicated editors again. As an enthusiastic traveler myself I am eager to the see the kinds of locations it recommends to me and how the service manages to attract people to do exactly that.