Can the wisdom of crowds improve your travel experience?
That is the premise and promise of several new travel websites that are harnessing social-media energy for answers that otherwise require asking your family and friends or serendipitous encounters with other travelers.
Websites such as Gogobot, Afar Connect, Bonvoy, and Vacation Relation seek to connect like-minded travelers for sharing tips and recommendations. They're newer, more targeted versions of travel chat-rooms or forums. Social media — as a concept and technology — is hot, and travel dotcom start-ups are eager to seize the trend.
After navigating through several, I was impressed with some of the travel information I received, from answers to my questions to recommendations members thought I might find useful. The sites offered attractive visuals and uncluttered layouts.
But the old adage applies: You get as much you put in. You have to be an eager social-media participant to fully reap the benefits. I'm not a heavy Facebook and Twitter user and the thought of maintaining yet another social-media site presence seemed a little burdensome to me.
Further, if you are uneasy about placing photos and personal information on websites whose long-term viability you question, what you get in return might be limited. These sites are only as good as their registered members and their shared information.