Uptake adds social element with Facebook

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Travel research site Uptake has added a social travel service called Travel Q&A to its website. The new addition to the research site allows users to not only research Uptake's library of content, but also their friends', via Facebook.

Click image to enlarge.
(Credit: Uptake)

According to Lesley Kao, vice president of product management at Uptake, Travel Q&A finds travel recommendations "from people they trust the most — their friends".

Uptake has 1.8 million destination ideas, hotels, restaurants, activities and attractions in the US, and has combined it with its partners' — TripAdvisor, Orbitz, Yahoo! Travel, Citysearch, Urbanspoon, IgoUgo and Zoom and Go — reviews, photos and maps to provide a library of information on a single website.

Travel Q&A, according to Uptake, lets travellers:

  • Find friends within their Facebook network who have been to a particular destination, tapping into both explicit and implicit Facebook data;
  • Browse, select and ask specific friends about destinations and activities; and
  • Organise the advice they receive.

Yen Lee, president and co-founder of Uptake, said that Travel Q&A "uses sentiment and attribute analysis technology to collect, organise and harness information from 30,000 websites, as well as your friend's implicit Facebook travel histories to give you highly personalised recommendations".

Users can ask their friends in 140 characters a travel question on Uptake's website, which will then ask you to sign in to Facebook and request permission to post as you. From there, it will post your query to your friends, and to Uptake's travel community.

Once someone answers your question, you'll be notified by email, which will take you to the Uptake website showing you the answers, as well as star ratings, reviews, photos and maps.

When we tested it, we asked what is the best hotel in Sydney to stay in, and got a couple of answers; one from a friend, and the other from Uptake's community. The latter's answer was of particular interest, as he happened to list the top two hotels for Sydney according to Uptake's reviews. A strange coincidence, or was it a genuine answer from actual experience? The ratings for the hotels mentioned were also on the low side (3 stars) for a hotel that is listed as number one for Sydney on the website.

When friends and Uptake's community answer your question, the company will keep that information for future travellers, said Kao.

While Uptake's travel information is US dominated, Kao said that the company is actively adding more international destinations.

At the moment, Uptake is only available from its website, and not Facebook. However, Kao said, there will be an app coming out soon.

Travel Q&A is only using Facebook at the moment, according to Kao, but could, in future, also expand to Twitter and Google+.

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