As you watch via social media as your friends travel the world, a new site called Tripbirds turns their Instagram, Foursquare and Facebook posts into a guidebook that can help you plan your own trip.
The site, which launched after a month in private beta on Tuesday, lets users search their friends' social media activity based on destination and add items to city-specific "to-do" lists.
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Instead of relying on friends to create content on a travel-specific site, Tripbirds instead organizes the geotagged content friends are already creating on other platforms in a way that makes it useful for planning a trip. The strategy solves the critical mass problem that makes some social travel sites impractical.
"The whole idea is to build it on as many sources as possible," says Tripbirds CEO Ted Valentin. "Most geotagged social media apps are about what is happening here and right now and in that app, but we want to take all that data and put it in one place."
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The site also shows which connections have been to your desired destination and makes soliciting advice from them easy. If you decide to plan a trip to Dublin, for instance, you can see which friends have posted to Instagram, Foursquare or Facebook from the city and send them a message to ask for advice. When they come to Tripbirds to recommend which pubs you should check out, their relevant activity is automatically displayed to make recommending specific places easy.
In addition to being practical, this feature gives users an incentive to invite their friends to the site. Tripbirds rightly does not show you geotagged content from friends' profiles until they give it permission to do so, and its biggest weakness that it is not very useful until a few friends sign up. The recommendation solicitation feature aims to create a natural invitation process.
Valentin, who founded a series of Sweedish user-generated review sites before Tripbirds, thinks interest in the space coincides with a general shift in online recommendations.
"I sort of feel that the web is going through a social transformation," Valentin says about the interest in social recommendations for travel and elsewhere. "Increasingly people want to get, instead of random information from people they don’t know, recommendations from people who they trust."
Tripbirds plans to make money through referral fees from hotel booking sites and has in the meantime raised about €550,000 in funding. Investors include the co-founders of SoundCloud and Path founder Dave Morin.
This story originally published on Mashable here.