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Passion for ideas for new companies come from lots of different places. I’ve learned to pay attention to them and see where they lead. Sometimes they lead somewhere; often they don’t but make me smarter about the world.
Recently an investor that I’ve gotten to know and really like started talking about an idea for the ultimate travel community web site – its purpose would be to facilitate a community comprised of members that love travel. The community would enable sharing of ideas, recommendations and travel experiences.
When I started playing around with user generated content and local search in 2005, one of the obvious applications to me was something oriented around travel. At the time I looked hard and found nothing particularly compelling. Ironically, the most interesting thing was the Yahoo Travel Planner which – while interesting – was very rough and underfeatured. It’s gotten a lot better but still misses the ball somehow – probably around its lack of real social networking and lens through “trips” rather than specific reviews in geographies.
So – I’m looking around for something like is the intersection of a deep content site like Yahoo Travel with a real social network / UGC site like the stuff at YourRunning.com. There would be a couple of pivot points: the user, the trip, a group around a trip, and groups of interests in trips. Each user would be able to generate a blog and other user generated content (video, photos, comments) around a specific trip. Groups would be able to communicate with each other (via whatever the appropriate messaging is – including real time stuff like Twitter.) All the data would be persistent – so someone interested in a specific trip could see what was good and what was bad. Search would be pervasive and accurate across all the content on the site.
The trip construct would obviously be monetizable through the creation of actual trips (and affiliate revenue / advertising.) This is one of the really interesting parts of the idea – once you lay out a trip online – as a function of other people’s trips – you can then make plane tickets, hotel reservations, dinner reservations, and event schedules automatically, get maps and directions, and have an itinerary generated. Assuming that all my fantasies about the Implicit Web become true, your compute infrastructure should be smart enough to do this for you automagically.
I’ve looked around for stuff like this but keep coming up short. If you are out there and working on this (or know of something that does this well and has a real community), leave a comment about what you are up to.