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VibeAgent, Travel Reviews and An Idea For TripCellar.com

I stay in a lot of hotels.  For personal trips, as well as business travel … there are hotels that I visit once or twice and there are hotels that I stay at often enough to recognize several members of the staff.  Though I often choose Starwood properties because of location and frequent staying points, I use many different brands of hotels depending on the city and availability.  Recently I have been considering starting a travel blog to capture all of these experiences at hotels, as well as my passion for some other elements of the experience such as luggage.  I have written before and done a product trial for some Briggs & Riley luggage, and also own some Boyt and Tumi bags.  I love to uncover new travel gadgets or tools to make the travel experience better or easier.  When I found the card for the travel survey from DHL in my latest issue of BusinessWeek, I went and took the survey.  I take a ton of photos of food at restaurants and love food photography.  In short, I’m an engaged traveller … exactly the kind that many companies in the travel business would love to reach. 

Imb_vibeagent2 So when I got the chance to beta test a new site dedicated to a new way of rating and finding hotels called VibeAgent, I took them up on the offer.  The site is still in beta so some things like the site search and autodiscovery of location during registration were still a bit clunky, but once inside the site it was clear the VibeAgent intends to take on one of the biggest problems with posting online reviews … that people are way more likely to post when they have a negative experience than a positive one because of a lack of incentive to share a good experience.  The incentive to share a bad experience is obvious: revenge.  I stay at good hotels that I like all the time, and hardly ever review them on a site like TripAdvisor or Yelp.  I have accounts to both, but there is no real incentive to write and the process seems like a bit too much work. 

For me, the number one incentive to keep track of where I stay is so that I can create an archive of my trips for myself.  In part, this was the reason I started blogging … to keep track of great ideas I saw or had that might be lost otherwise.  Luckily for me, many of those ideas were useful for others too.  Recording this type of information has to be a personal experience.  Where VibeAgent is most successful is in how they let you record your experience through quick buttons and collect your stays together:

Imb_vibeagent1

As I used the site, though, I couldn’t help but wish for a more holistic way of recording my travel experiences.  A real online trip diary, so to speak, where I could save all the details of my trip so I could refer back to it anytime.  This would NOT be about sharing my travel stories … since I could already do that by creating my own travel blog or adding photos to a Flickr gallery. 

Instead, the sole purpose of this online trip diary would be to easily record all my experiences, positive or negative, with set criteria.   VibeAgent has a great start on set criteria for hotel stays.  Yet, there are five key elements that make up the entire travel experience: transport, hotel, products, food and sights.  If someone could create a similar tool for travellers to easily keep track of all these elements, that would be a tool worth paying for.  Here is a quick list of features:

  • Integration with Google Maps
  • Database of hotels, sights and airports to quickly recognize what I want
  • Easy rating system for each element
  • Ability to link to photos for each, if I have them
  • Choose to share ratings or not share and keep private
  • Sort ratings together (ie – select hotels, airports and sights to see together)
  • Easily printable with easy to read formatting
  • Emailable custom pages bringing content elements together
  • Travel product reviews with links to online purchasing

If I could choose a site to start on my own, this would be it.  I’d call it TripCellar (like a wine cellar – or something like that) and charge people to use it.  To make it more Web2.0, I could easily drop the "a" and make it TripCellr.com.  If it was really easy to use and offered a unique way to keep track of all your travel experiences, I think it would be a hit.  What do you think?  Would this work, or would it just be another tool struggling for an audience?  Also, if you’re interested in trying out VibeAgent, let me know … I have a few invites left to share.

7 thoughts on “VibeAgent, Travel Reviews and An Idea For TripCellar.com”

  1. Rohit,

    Thanks very much for taking the time to write about your initial experience with VibeAgent. You make some very insightful comments.

    We’re a work in progress. We’re already working on a lot of the things you describe, to make our site a more holistic experience for travelers. We’re rolling out new features every two weeks, based primarily on feedback from intelligent and passionate users like yourself.

    The common thread in the new features we’re rolling out (next release, Wednesday!) is to make it easier for our members to research, book, and share their travel experiences. Stay tuned – we hope to grow together to create the ultimate travel site!

    Cheers,

    Adam
    Co-founder, VibeAgent

    Reply
  2. Rohit –

    Thanks for writing about this site. Travel is one of my passions as well, and when there is any down time from the day job I’ve been considering what the ideal ‘web 2.0’ travel service for me would be. If you do have any invites available, I would definitely be interested in checking this site out a bit more.

    Thanks again,
    -Art

    Reply
  3. Hi Rohit,

    Thank you, this an inspiring post – We ran a contest to regroup ideas for a perfect trip planning tool this is a nice addition to the pool of features.

    We’ve been developing a site based on sharing travel stories (https://www.touristr.com) and came across similar challenges. We found the best way to achieve the ultimate travel site is to develop two applications. One app to facilitate social networking on locations and one app similar to TripCellar. The two apps being integrated and complementing one another.

    The most interesting part of this application being the use of data attention and past trips from the comuunity on “tripCellar” to model my future trips based on preferences. Scanning million of data across the web (transport, activities, accommodation, food and sights) returning only what is relevant to me and allowing me to book the complete experience. Many told us that it’s not possible so we’re trying to do it!

    By the way, I would enjoy an invite to Vibeagent – We’re looking to partner with other travel passionate dudes so please anyone interested in sharing energies, email me: jan@touristrepublic.com

    Reply
  4. Hi Rohit,

    22 countries and 20 states down, I am definitely passionate about travel. I think your idea of tripcellr.com is a great idea. I would use it. I am also interested in trying VibeAgent if you have an extra site visit opportunity left.

    Reply
  5. Travel Writing Tips
    For anyone who’s looking to get into travel writing, it is important to have had some experience in traveling. It is essential. This is where a writer obtains the materials that will become the stories that will end up on paper.
    Get acquainted with the road and its demands. It is advisable for future traveler writers to immerse themselves into different cultures. Whenever traveling abroad, absorb the local scene. If possible, try to experience more than the regular tourist route. Get to know the people and learn from their customs. Capture the essence of the place.

    This way, there’ll be plenty to write about when it’s time to pick up the pen.

    travel article directory http://www.TravellingToday.com

    Reply
  6. Hi Rohit,

    I founded a site called HolidayIQ.com which is now pretty much the only Travel Information site in India (all other sites are Online Travel Agents). While we started with a overwhelming focus on User content, actual user feedback forced us to change tack a bit. We now have a 60:40 split of user content to editorial content. In all early stage vacation markets like India, I suspect an intelligent combination of user content & editorial content is key to user comfort. Having said that, I am keenly waiting to see haow VibeAgent evolves.

    Reply

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About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

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