Ruba Turns to Facebook for Travel Recommendations

What happens when trip planning is made social? Ruba is the latest project from serial entrepreneur Mike Cassidy, and it’s taking a very social approach to helping you create the best trip suited to your needs. Ruba, launching today, does this by covering three main aspects of search and discovery. The three main aspects are as follows:

What this boils down to is a very pictorial way in which to peruse the site and see what’s of interest to you. Ruba starts with the basics, such as Top Hiking Places, or Best Romantic Getaways in Tuscany. This gives you a broad idea of the specific type of content a user is after, as opposed to merely starting out a search based on geography.

From there Ruba really emphasizes the photo portion of a trip, which makes browsing through the site more of an experience than a duty. Photos really convey more about a travel destination then hoards of text reviews. The good thing about Ruba’s focus on photos is that even in creating an album for other Ruba visitors to view, photos can be uploaded directly or pulled from public web searches (i.e. Flickr, Photobucket, Google Images). This ease-of-use really encourages everyone to partake in the consumption and creation ends of Ruba’s website.
On the discovery end, Ruba is designed to promote circular site searches, where every page you land on has more links for you to continually click. This is achieved through related searches, other activities in the area, and more content from a given user. In doing so, Ruba is actually adding to the overall site experience, which is very visually-centered.
Ruba consists of entirely user-generated content, so in gathering content and pushing out content Ruba is also plugged into Twitter and Facebook. Guides created by users are also embeddable, so they can easily become packets of featured content to be shared almost anywhere across the web.
With Facebook Connect integration, Ruba lets you communicate directly with your social graph. If you click on a general term on Ruba you’ll see an option to ask your Facebook friends where the good spots are for that initial theme. This will post a message on your Facebook wall, which is then spread out to all of your Facebook friends. Any comments and return activity will help you plan your trip and comes in direct recommendations from people that know you.
Of course, this is also a great way for Ruba to leverage your existing relationships on Facebook while building out its own brand. I actually get a good amount of responses from asking questions on Twitter as well, so hopefully Ruba will add in an option to tweet for ideas as well. In all, the direct collaboration potential for seeking out such recommendations is a good idea that many other services could tap into.
What’s missing from Ruba are the action items associated with planning a trip. That means there are no booking options, no comparative analysis tools or itinerary creators. But all of this, along with direct collaboration for things like itinerary creation, are in the pipeline for Ruba.