User generated content guarantees everything but the weather

Where would we be without the web? Ok, ok, I know that statement’s a bit of a cliché but seriously, I still marvel at having the world more or less at my fingertips via the internet. The memory of what life was like before is all but fading away. I’ve just returned from a fantastic holiday and I don’t want to remember what it was like trying to book one without the internet.

The success of the holiday choice (the Red Sea) was mostly due to the internet. With so many online resources to choose from I wouldn’t dream of using a travel agent although I do admit to looking at their brochures for ideas.

One of the most useful web resources is TripAdvisor.com, which underwent a redesign late last year. TripAdvisor is a great example of an online business built on user generated content. I research absolutely everything and thanks to TripAdvisor’s candid user reviews there were no unpleasant surprises with the location, hotel or attractions. The many tips meant we could make the most of the holiday and plan our expenditure based on the ‘must do’s’ highlighted by other travellers. 

Of course it’s only fair to put in what you get out; on my return I promptly put my own review, photographs and video online so others could benefit. As well as ease of use, TripAdvisor has a solid vetting procedure to ensure reviews remain impartial and entirely trustworthy.

TripAdvisor has also made commendable use of facebook, building brand traction for themselves with their ‘cities I’ve visited’ widget. This opportunity to map your travel places past and future, make recommendations and show-off to your ‘friends’ has been very popular.

Of course TripAdvisor does have its downsides; as with all user generated content opinions are entirely subjective.  But I still think anyone who doesn’t check it out before booking a trip is missing a trick.

As more budget is ploughed into online, resources like TripAdvisor will become more and more sophisticated, giving us all more of what we want. Take a look at www.travel.co.uk, which launched this week, for the latest in online travel searching, comparing and booking… with guess what? TripAdvisor reviews too.