What’s up with travel tech tools?

I stopped by something called The Connected Traveler Technology Showcase not too long ago at Jillian’s in San Francisco—awesome upscale sports bar, by the way—where a number of companies were presenting new travel apps, websites and tools. Here’s a bit of the takeaway from the companies that caught my eye.

  • Gogobot.com. This is a sharp-looking site that seems on the surface to be a mesh of facebook and something like TripAdvisor, allowing visitors to make recommendations of lodgings, locales etc. to friends planning a trip or considering a destination. You can connect to your facebook friends, and part of the idea is the info you share and receive here is ‘trustworthy’ as it comes from people you know rather than total strangers. I might be missing something, but this also would seem to drastically limit the info you’d access, as few of my friends have been to Katmandu (for example) while countless strangers have. I think this is worth a peek, but in my own humble opinion they seem to be still fleshing out the concept here.
  • SpotWorld Inc. A self-proclaimed ‘global travel guide and social network,’ SpotWorld offers an iPhone app (and website) providing information and multimedia on over half-a-million locales. This is potentially worth a look if you’re seeking a travel app with plenty of destination content, though the info itself seems almost randomly pulled from different sources and people. Looking up Mendocino, Calif. as an example I was simply taken to a page of copy pulled directly from the Wikipedia article.
  • Visual Travel Tours. Taking a different approach on destination reviews, VTT—rather than linking you to friends or free information culled from the web—sells originally created city tours that can be viewed via video or photo presentations adjoined by text. I think there is possible appeal here for a planner about to take a group to a new city, and the price-point of under $20 seems pretty reasonable. However, with so much free destination and video content available online, it’s a tough call whether these videos are significantly better than what you might find for free on youtube or another such site. The free two-minute sample on their website seems a bit generic in nature, especially for someone seeking something unique or off-the-beaten-path.

And on a related note, Yahoo! just recently added an ‘Apps’ search button; a quick look at ‘meetings’ brought up a number of free apps worth consideration, including Cisco/WebEx, Tungle (calendar/scheduling sharing) and QuickVoice Recorder (for note-taking).

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