Before the 2.0 times, all travelers would buy guides from bookstores or come to you, the very knowledgeable travel agent, and find answers to all the questions they had about a certain destination they were dreaming to visit.
Today, not only there are hundreds of individual blogs about every and any destination corner on the planet; not only there are web versions of all travel guides and magazines, but also new virtual communities emerge around the passion for travelling.
As we know, and experience, from the social networks we are in, like Facebook or LinkedIn, these platforms empower us to connect easier, share moments from our everyday experience or professional portfolios with the other users – from family to business partners.
Niche travel social networks not only connect strangers from across the world through a common interest, but also, by offering relevant information for their travel process, are directly and silently competing with OTAs.
Below, I am going to show you details about 5 such niche social networks and their benefits for travelers, at every stage of their trips: before – at the inspiration and planning levels; during – at the experiential level; and after – at the reminiscing and reviewing level.
So, without any further delay, here they are:
TripsBook – their notable features include the competitions in travelers’ rankings, and the option to create the history and statistics of any traveler’s trips. They can create their own experiences, and track updates about their friends’ trips. A major opportunity for local travel companies to tap into is the site’s offer for travelers to do geo-positioning at various spots during their trips.
Globetrooper – this portal let users create their own personalized trips and find travel partners from across the world who would embark with them on the journeys. It’s also a social experiential travel portal, very helpful for travelers at the browsing and inspiration stage.
TripWolf – this social networking platform mixes the traditional travel information found in travel guides with real-life experiences and findings from travelers during their adventures. Users can create their own travel itinerary with all the available info and tips and, when ready to embark on the journey, they can print a PDF copy of their self-made travel guide. One differentiator for this site is that it has a phone app too, which empowers the use of the platform in real-time during the trips.
Viajeros – this is probably one of the oldest traveler communities, released in 2001, and one can notice its advanced features. It contains travel diaries, a large collection of photos, and travel experiences. The unique feature of this social platform is the hotel search option. This one really competes with a bunch of OTAs and flight search webs, as it combines the personalized socially-generated travel info with practical flight booking option. Also, it reaches out to businesses too, offering to include their company info on the web.
Tripteria – this looks like a very new, beta-phase platform. However, it mixes, like some of the others, socially sourced info about trips and destinations with the business of reservations, be it flights, hotels or car rental. This platform is available for now just in Spanish, probably one of the newest webs in this niche, waiting to bloom.
So, the features of these travel social networks reveal pretty convincingly the ways in which they compete with OTAs. They have credible, non-biased information about places and adventures, they offer the possibility to connect with other travelers, and they also take from OTAs job of finding flights and hotels to book directly.