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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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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Information is spreading…fast.

6 02 2007

I have been looking around to find out if hoteliers were uploading video about their hotels on www.youtube.com or www.dailymotion.com. My third try was to search for the term “hotel madrid” in youtube.com, and on the first page of results, I saw the following entrance:

Youtube hotels

Translation of the spanish comment with the video: “Don’t go to the hotel Mediodia in Madrid in front of Atocha.” [...] “This is our wash basin.” This video has been here for 3 months now, and is posted under the category “Comedy”. It has already been viewed by 361 persons.

Here is the video of an anonymous customer of this hotel located in Madrid:

[youtube QaQM4GZ9Ilw]

I was looking for a new type of hotel promotions (using youtube, dailymotion and else) and in the end I found a new type of hotel review… I saw a lot of comments on the internet about Travel 2.0 and a lot of them were trying to define “Travel 2.0″. Maybe it is just about that; about spreading the information, about having potential customers more informed.

On the other hand, there is no way for the hotelier to remove such a video from youtube, even if he has already completed a renovation in his hotel or even he has fixed the problem. This applies to Tripadvisor as well. People should not pay attention to old comments, as hotel management team may have changed and as the hotel may have been renovated since then.
I recall people who told me that there were hotels that disallowed the use of camera and filming devices in their hotels in order to keep the mystery around their hotel intact…Anyway hoteliers won’t have any control over people using filming devices in their hotels; they cannot hide those flaws anymore.

Here is a positive hotel review of an independent hotel called Hotel Las Palapas in Playa del Carmen (Mexico). You will see that it looks very professional and nicely edited with commentaries of the guest. A nice piece of work. That reminds me I need to go to Tulum!
[youtube Pq5_qJ7Uyvs]

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Yet another google mashup, on Tripadvisor.com

30 10 2006

Tripadvisor google mashup Another Google Mashup in the Online Travel Industry… Tripadvisor displays the hotels according to their popularity on the site and their availability (their price too?). It displays the number of reviews per hotel and the average price found among Tripadvisor partners.

I hope it will be available in more countries and more cities (not just for the US). That’s funny to see that Tripadvisor only displays the average price of the hotel for the dates selected, they have chosen not to enter into the war of the aggregators that compare travel retail sites between them to retrieve and publish the best price found for each hotel..

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The 10 most influential people in the online travel industry

24 09 2006

The english media portal Travolution* has gathered the votes and opinions of its readers (I haven’t had time to cast my vote) to finally released a list of the 10 most influential people in the online travel industry over the past decade (tough job!).

“The final 10 is, we believe, a collection of the finest thinkers and strategists since 1996, and sometimes those just simply brave enough to try to break new ground.”

Here are 5 people selected from the list of the 10 most influential people:

  • Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google

If you want to know who else appear on the list and WHY they appear in that list, Travolution provides an analisys/rationale.

Pierre Chappaz (and Dominique Vidal Kelkoo) did not make it to the final ranking of the 10 most influential person but was present among the 20 most influential people; see the others on Travolution.
The next big question is: Who will remain in the list in 2016? Will Google not only influence but play a more determinant role in the travel industry in the future?

Do you agree/disagree with this ranking? Have a read at the analysis page and make a comment.
* “Travolution is a new media brand for the online travel industry, from the publishers of Gazetteers Plus & Travel Weekly. It is packed with research, news and analysis on everything to do with selling, deploying and marketing travel on the web.”

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Breaking news: Iguazu falls reduced to a trickle

29 07 2006

I just found an article from CNN.COM mentionning the fact that the world famous Iguazu Falls have been reduced to a trickle due to the worst drought in the last 20 years in that part of the world*. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a picture to go with this post, so let’s appreciate a great shot of this gift of mother Nature.

Cataratas de Iguazu

*It is located in extreme northeast Argentina on the border with Brazil.

Many people who went there told me that there was 2 hotels very close to the falls but only one has rooms with a direct view on the falls, The Sheraton International Iguazu (careful not all the rooms have balconies! do not forget to specify it when reserving your room).

Anyway it is amazing to see that there are so few reviews of hotels located in Iguazu National Park on Tripadvisor.com, I don’t get it; Sheraton has 50 reviews and the 3 others altogether have 9 reviews. Does that mean that North American ppl don’t go to to visit the magnificent falls of Iguazu? Not sure.. anyway now you know where to go next!
It can’t finish this post without a trendy satellite view of the falls thanks to Windows Live Local.

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