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Facebook & Travel: Social Networking & Your Next Trip

One of the big trends at the PhoCusWright Conference in 2010 was how much social networking is being integrated into travel – it was so prevalent that many of the Travel Innovation Summit companies were working with social in some fashion, many of them working directly with the social networking giant of Facebook.

You may remember the talk about Facebook Trips a few years ago, an app developed by SideStep. While that didn’t quite take off the way either SideStep or Facebook hoped there are several new potential apps to slide into that open space. Here are a few of the social networking tools business travelers can use to connect with friends on work trips or coordinate trips with friends and family when you actually travel for fun.

  • Facebook Places – Facebook’s answer to location-based games like Foursquare and Gowalla, Places is designed to help you share with your friends exactly where you are so you can connect with people you know in the same area. The newer travel aspect of Places is the ability to find “local deals” on your mobile device based on your GPS location. You’ll be able to claim discounts at restaurants and shops wherever you are, and then share them on Facebook so your friends nearby can get the same deal.
  • Bonvoy – Planning group travel can be difficult, but since pretty much everyone’s on Facebook it makes sense to use an app within Facebook to get everyone on the same page. Bonvoy is a Facebook app that makes group trip planning much easier, and even includes the ability to split trip costs in the app.
  • gogobot – Assuming your existing Facebook friends are a well-traveled bunch upon whom you can rely for tips on your next trip, gogobot is the app you can use to get travel advice. It helps you gather travel tips from your existing social network and pull it together in a meaningful way to make travel planning easier.
  • Vacation Relation – If, on the other hand, your Facebook pals aren’t travelers or they just don’t care about your upcoming trip when they’re stuck at home, there’s Vacation Relation. This app allows you to connect with other people going to the same destination as you, so you can share information and travel tips and maybe even meet up on location if you want to. The app creates a private Facebook group in which to discuss travel plans, so you can use the Facebook platform you’re already familiar with.
  • TripAlertz – Groupon, Living Social and other group-buying sites are becoming increasingly popular, but they’re not specifically designed for travel. TripAlertz is being called “Groupon for travel,” and it helps members get huge discounts on trips. Membership is free, and it’s integrated with Facebook so you can share a deal with friends – after all, the more people who book, the lower the price goes.
  • Kukunu – Kukunu’s goal is to take the hassle out of trip planning, to make it “fun and social,” by letting users share the travel information they’re gathering in one place. Users can build plans with maps, calendars, and itineraries, and they can do it together with the other people on the trip. It’s integrated with Facebook, so people can comment on your Kukunu plans from within Facebook.

photo by Johan Larsson