TripAdvisor and Yelp are the two largest (and dare I say, best) resources for travelers. With millions of ratings and directories that expand every day, the services promise an answer to the difficult questions that travellers face. Where should I eat? What is this city’s best attraction? Where’s the beer?
For a while, I tried to use “Google Places”, now known as Google+ Local, to find nearby eateries or attractions. I felt the app user experience was faster than the competitors and it’s integration of Google Maps was more sophisticated. But a travel app is only as good as its content, and there were no reviews.
Most of the reviews I found when I used the app regularly a few years ago were by one guy who had rated nothing but the bathrooms at various Burger Kings. Not exactly actionable stuff.
So when I read that Google was buying Frommers, one of the premiere travel guide providers on the web and in print, I suspected immediately that this was a play to enhance Google+ by inserting the reviews into Google+ Local, which is now a tab along the left hand side of any Google+ profile. Now, before you applaud my sleuthing, the only reason this is the likely scenario is because Google did the same thing after they acquired Zagat Survey in 2011. Have you noticed that when you search something on Google Maps nowadays, a small “Zagat Score” appears beside most restaurants? Yeah, that’s Zagat reviews, and you can expect Frommer’s comments to follow suit.
I have a feeling Google is pursuing the travel resource angle pretty heartily. Google Maps is a ubiquitous tool, and there’d be no better way to monetize than by making it a leading recommendation site. The Wall Street Journal comments on how this reflects Google pursuing more professionally created content, which marks a shift from years past when it was all about the vox populi.
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