Tripatini.com: Getting Advice From Travel Insiders
A new travel social networking website, Tripatini.com was launched August, 2009. The site, originally called Go-Lo.net, was created by David Paul Appell, president and co-founder of EnLinea, to allow travelers, travel writers and tourism professionals a forum to exchange ideas about media, cheap hotels, airfare, and travel opportunities along with current events.
Appell told GoNOMAD, “A fresh new way for travelers and experts to interact, Tripatini breaks down the traditional barriers that have stood between travelers and travel journalist, publicists, agents, venders, and anyone else with good, actionable info.”
Travel journalists, travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, and enthusiasts from all over the world, including Argentina, Aruba, Australia, The Bahamas, Brazil, Dubai, Italy, Israel, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States have joined the site as members.
How It Works
Arthur Frommer, founder of Frommer’s Travel Guides and dean of American travel writers, explains how Tripatini works:
“Suppose, hypothetically, that you’re thinking of a vacation stay in Cape Cod. Wouldn’t it be helpful to discuss that trip with an official of the Cape Cod Tourism Office?
“Wouldn’t it be of great benefit to run some tentative decisions past the author of a well-known guidebook to Cape Cod? Or to speak with the travel editor of a local Cape Cod newspaper? And wouldn’t it then be productive to submit your plans to a couple of well-known Cape Cod travel agents, to get their feedback?
“All without obligation of any sort to anyone.”
Tripatini.com has a Facebook-style interface, allowing easy navigation. All one needs in the two-minute sign-up is their name, email, and a password. A member profile features a photo, a comments page, message inbox, blog, and photo gallery. The news feed section features an events calendar, weekly polls, world music, and a weekly travel blog.
The site also allows members to participate in discussion groups. So far, more than 230 groups have been created. Topics include eco tourism, family travel, honeymoons/weddings, travel with pets, singles travel, among many others.
The site toolbar has a section to invite friends through email to join the site to allow co-workers, friends, and fellow-travelers to exchange ideas with you in one central location.
The search option allows the member to type in search queries including name, hometown, or a website one may be associated with. A section of recently featured videos, travel pix, and blogs can also be located in the toolbar.
Like Facebook, and other social networking sites, a user can request any other user as a friend, invite other members to join groups or polls, write on another friend’s comment page, or send a private message.
How The Site Was Born
Appell and cofounder, Jose Balido are both former magazine editors and travel journalists as a resource for story ideas and for keeping a finger on the pulse of what the traveling public wants and where to locate it. The “Media Only!” group is the central feature for travel journalists.
This group is a place to exchange ideas and discuss issues, plan events, and provide suggestions. Recent discussions have included topics ranging from the writers’ weirdest assignments, freelancer contracts, and other current issues in the world of travel journalism.
There are groups such as travel marketers/publicists and tour operators where writers can find links to travel vendors and get press releases.
Appell got the idea to create the site when planning a trip to France last year.
“As I sometimes do, I wrote to different friends in the travel biz to get their take on the latest and greatest stuff not to miss,” he says. “As I hit the ‘send’ button on the last email, the proverbial bulb went off over my head: Wouldn’t it be great if there were some site where the travel media and the general traveling public could mingle?”
The idea expanded to including publicists, tour operators, flight attendants, etc. “I realized that there was no such place on the internet, and that’s how Tripatini was conceived.”
Why The Need?
The Tripatini.com site has been under construction since late 2008 and will always be adding new features.
Tripatini’s main goal is to promote communication. Anybody can ask a question and everyone can learn something useful.
“I signed up to expand my network and hook up with those who are in my network on other social network groups, meet more travel professionals, learn new technology, get more jobs, and travel more,” says Tripatini member Robert J. Nebel, who uses the site to showcase his work on Men’s Traveler and its companion blog, and on My Examiner Channel.
The creators feel as though the site has tapped into a real need. Appell says many members have written to express their love of the site.
Co-founder Balido discovered the effectiveness of the site first-hand when planning a trip to Tampa.
“I had to take a trip to Tampa a couple of weekends ago,” he says, “and I needed to find a good inexpensive and centrally located hotel quickly. Within a short while of posting a query on the site, I had a great recommendation for under $100 a night! That’s what Tripatini is about: members helping members save money and travel better.”
With the current recession, travel enthusiasts and travel professionals are always looking for the best deal and the opportunity to save a few bucks. This site provides an easy and quick way to do just that.
Tripatini also provides an opportunity for travelers to post their photos and videos.
From group discussions and personal messages, they can find a quick exchange of information or advice without sending out dozens of emails or spending a lot of time searching different rates or travel programs.
Making Tripatini Go Higher
Tripatini has not yet been advertised. It started getting members through word of mouth among travel media and industry folks through a Rolodex built over many years by the cofounders.
A few days after it was launched, an article about Tripatini hit the No. 2 spot out of more than 97,000,000 results on a Google search for “travel social network.” Inviting friends and having friends invite friends is the most effective way to create exponential growth.
Tripatini also got a big boost when Arthur Frommer announced on his blog that he is “enormously impressed” by the new website.
“You’re getting travel advice from specialists,” he writes in his blog, “from pros with long and honorable records in travel journalism or advice, with people who have no axe to grind, no interest to serve other than yours, no reason to puff or exaggerate.
“You are not getting advice from travel amateurs. You are not looking at answers or comments from total neophytes or cranks. You are looking at responses provided from persons with resumes of accomplishment in the travel category you have chosen.”
Lisa Linsley is an intern at GoNOMAD and a journalism major at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
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