The new Tripadvisor site is online: a retail look and feel!

18 10 2007

You can have a sneak preview at the new Tripadvisor site by browsing this beta” microsite that TA globally announced today in its newsletter.

The user-generated reviews’ giant Tripavisor (part of the Expedia, Inc. family of travel companies), decided to “create a new and easier to use” site. Kristen Nicole from Mashable previously published an article saying that people have complained about the cluttered homepage of the (curent) site.

Look at those “before-after” screenshots I took and make your own opinion:

Tripadvisor before and after screenshot

A typical WEB 2.0 launch for this new version: As it has been said by Tripadvisor: It is a beta site! “Beta” means [Tripadvisor] is still polishing a few things! This beta version was first launched on the co.uk site of TA a few days ago, and it is now for everyone to REVIEW!

I have noticed myself a few mistakes in the list of countries/cities of the Europe section, like Lisbon listed under Romania(!), Rome in Latvia (!), Venice in Luxembourg (!) etc. Travolution commenters spotted those mistakes and considered that even if “it will be sorted soon” still “it reflects poorly”.

Tim Hughes thinks the beta version of Tripadvisor looks like a retail travel site. Did Tripadvisor hide the business side of their “free review site” on purpose? It’s hard to believe, as ads were everywhere in the previous version (text ad links called sponsored links and flash ads). Does Tripadvisor think it will convert better if it has the “look and feel” of a retail website (now that they are famous for being review website)? I guess so!

Take a look at a full review of this new design written by Alex (Travel UCD).

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New spanish travel aggregator Minube.com launched today!

23 07 2007

Logo MiNube.comSurprisingly the Spanish online travel market is not saturated by the emergence of aggregation and comparison engines; there is still space for newcomer(s) to enter this segment of the online travel industry. That’s what Minube.com (that literally means “My Cloud” in Spanish) did today by launching this new flight/hotel aggregator “Minube”.

Comparador Mi nube

Minube.com referred itself as being a web 2.0 site. A simple, clean and original design with green, red and orange clouds! It uses features that made Web 2.0 sites so convenient such as the suggestion search box; as you type in a query it will display the available cities/countries/airports dynamically via some AJAX. Pretty useful when you don’t know how to spell those Spanish cities or when you don’t know the airport name of your destination.

Of course it also integrates maps from Google maps (I did not manage to see the mapping of all hotels of the first page of result on one map), and reviews (reviews are not moderated yet). The good thing is there are no reviews on the system yet, it starts from scratch. One of the problems of Tripadvisor is that they are still showing client reviews that are very old, totally outdated although the owner/management team of the hotel has changed or the hotel has been fully renovated.

Mi Nube hotels

As a traditional travel aggregator, Minube compares the prices of a lot of different travel agencies (Atrapalo, eDreams, TerminalA, MuchoViaje etc.), airlines (low cost airline such as Vueling, Clickair) or hotel portals, and shows the best price found (with no additional fees).

The page of results of a hotel search is very similar to SideStep results page, as there is a slider control to determine the “price range” that you can adjust according to your budget/needs. I did a comparison between Sidestep and Minube for the same date (last minute booking) in Barcelona and I was pretty happy of the results; specially because Minube found many more hotels with cheap rates. This is no surprise as they already work with a lot of local providers (see paragraph below).

Here is an extensive list of the hotel providers, airlines, and online travel agencies that Minube partnered with:

 

Minube Providers

All in all, after I spent 15 minutes playing with this new aggregator, I felt pretty impressed by this beta version of Minube. They start with a good design, a lot of partners (even though some are missing), and good web 2.0 functionalities and features (recent searches, travel fair, filters of travel agencies, event calendar). It definitely has its place among its Spanish competitors, HotelAdicto, Trabber, Tsales (any other I missed?). I believe they will be launching a version for the french market soon called MonNuage.fr according to what I read on their blog. Congratulations!

PS: I havent had time to try the “alert engine” but I already like the idea. I believe it is similar to what Orbitz does, by keeping searching for the price and dates you have requested and sending you an alert by email once it has been found! I’ll try this tomorrow but I needed first to share this with you.

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Introduction to Flight Reviews: 7 hours stuck in a Delta Airline airplane

30 06 2007

Delta Airlines 6499We are now quite familiar with customer-written hotel reviews; we also know about the trendy use of video reviews of hotels but what about reviews of flights?!

Yesterday I stumbled upon an incredible amateur video that made it to the top #20 of the most watched video of Youtube. The statistics speak for themselves:

Views: 76,062
Comments: 468
Favorited: 175

Robert McKee took a Delta flight (n°6499) and got stuck on tarmac during 7 hours straight.

[youtube R06dAgpmmbg]

Fortunately, he had a video recording device (a lot of batteries) and enough know-how to edit and post this video to the Consumerist Blog.

The same way, I thought of blogging my last trip to Barcelona (with a connection in Rome); it was an Alitalia flight planned at 7pm from Nice. The flight was delayed, re-scheduled at 11:45pm, then delayed again to finally be cancelled around 1h20am. My flight finally got scheduled 24 hours later. It got cancelled twice! After the first cancellation, a voice quickly came out of the airport speakers saying:

Airplane on tarmac

“We will try to repair the airplane with the help of Air France’ staff; Alitalia technicians will be sending instructions by phone from Rome to the technicians located at Nice airport, so they can repair the airplane.”

Priceless! I twittered it but unfortunately I did not have any good audio or video recording devices to record this.

We all have our own stories of bad luck while traveling, but thanks to the Web 2.0 user generated content, customers are now capable of getting a worldwide audience to denounce bad (or excellent) comercial practices. Airlines too, should care about what they say to their customers and how they treat them as information is spreading fast, otherwise it will be published on hundreds of blogs (including the famous blog of Robert Scoble) …

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Loic Le Meur interviews the CEO of Trivop

21 05 2007

Here is an interesting interview of Thomas Owadenko that Loic Le Meur just uploaded on his blog. Thomas is the CEO of the new travel 2.0 site called Trivop.


[vpod.tv loiclemeur/200710]

Trivop.com is a very good example of a good use of web 2.0 in the travel industry. It is a platform of video reviews of hotels (located in Europe and then in the future in the US).Like I said in the past, the future of hotel reviews is strongly connected to the future of online video; we previously saw the impact of a simple video uploaded on youtube to report a poor hotel room in Madrid. We also saw Tripadvisor launched a video uploading feature on their website to follow this (hotel) trend.

Trivop

Now we have a dedicated website only for hotels which combined a mashup of Google maps, Tripadvisor text reviews and videos generated by hoteliers and guests.In the video Thomas says that it will be focused on hotels for the first 3 years, Trivop does not have a real competitor since there is no other 100% similar site. However it might somehow compete with videos of websites like Youtube, Google Video, DailyMotions etc. and also with sites like www.travelistic.com that have a wider approach and publish video content for everything related to travel.

When Trivop has been launched at the beginning of April 2007, it already had filmed and uploaded about 170 videos of hotels. Trivop will also intend to create a marketplace community where video producers could meet the demand for video of hoteliers.

Ceo Trivop - Thomas OwadenkoDuring the interview Thomas says that not only the hotelier can upload a video but also the guest. As of today I have not been able to find a video generated by a guest, but only video “ordered” by hoteliers, with a very good editing by the way. The only negative comment I would make is that there is no way you can control the playback of the video other than using the pause button. Videos are played sequentially (divided into segments: lobby/standard room/suite etc) just as if you were watching plain old television. When deciding what hotel I want to book, I have a limited available time for making my choice. I need to compare hotel prices, hotels reviews and so on; watching each segment (of about 50sec to 1min40) without having the choice to fast forward the video is time consuming.

In my opinion the challenge for Trivop will be to generate revenue by proposing their services as filmmakers for hoteliers while they offer a free platform for guests to upload their “videos reviews” that could criticize and hurt their own clients.

Anyway I found that the concept of Trivop is innovative and useful for travellers and I wish them the best of success.

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