So what I decided to do today was to look back at the oldest ones that I had files away and see which of them is still of interest today. These three were all promoted to me in April 2007, about 18 months ago.
71 Miles - is an early staycation website, founded before the concept of staycation became popularized. Its beta version was focused on Northern California, and its plans in April 2007 were to go national in "the coming months." That obviously did not happen, as it is still Northern California based, and they do not seem to talk about going national any longer. And they seem to be looking for advertisers on their homepage.
The State of Oregon's GoSeeOregon.com website, which is somewhat of a traditional state travel site, except that you need to join the site to see most of the information. If you register you get access to:
- Tips for more than 300 destinations in Oregon and over 90,000 others worldwide
- Connect with thousands of fellow travelers from all continents
- Rate and review hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more
- Search the database for members with similar interests, find top rated places, the most respected users or the most valuable tips
- Customize your own passport page and track all your travel
In my opinion, 3000 registered members is not necessarily a huge success. With a little effort they could possibly get close to that number on Facebook. I think the issue of registering is a barrier. Only those people who are most enthusiastic to share and discuss Oregon will likely register. For potential visitors, the Tips section is probably the most useful part of the site and it is good that they make this available without needing to register. So there are probably many times as many users of the site than just those who register.
TravelOregon.com, the state's official travel site, has a Travel Journal tool where registered users can take notes of places they want to see, but they do not have the community tools that GoSeeOregon has. In addition, they only refer people via a very small link at the bottom of their site, to the GoSeeOregon website, so they are not really making full use of GoSeeOregon.com, with which they are apparently still affiliated.
Tripwiser.com launched in April 2007 and was described in the email I received back then as being "devoted to baby boomers traveling in the United States with families. The idea was to take project management out of trip planning and help people collaborate and enjoy travel preparation as much as possible." Its primary feature, in my opinion, is the ability to post your trip itinerary and, optionally, share it with others. You can also comment on the places you went and share photos -- sort of like a personal travel blog. There is no discussion forum, and you cannot comment directly on postings, though you can suggest updates to a post. So it is a lot less open than TripAdvisor.com or 43Places.com.
It is hard to tell how many users TripWiser.com currently has. My impression is that is is OK, but not huge. There seem to be user trips to most of the more popular corners of the world. The site, however, is full of other information from a variety of different sources -- including commercial tour operators. This form of advertising is relatively less obtrusive than what one finds on sites such as TripAdvisor.com. Though it can be sneaky in that way.
Of the 18 month old sites reviewed here, TripWiser.com appears to be the most successful. That could be because it is the broadest in its geographic market, covering the globe, instead of only one state or urban region. It could also be because it is the most rich in the user generated tools that it provides -- namely, allowing users to create itineraries that can be private or shared. It does not have a discussion forum, which is a shortcoming, I think. However, the information provided -- a mix of user-generated content and commercial content -- is presented in an easy to access and use manner. Perhaps this is better suited to baby-boomers who just want information and are less interested in active site participation.