One of the keys to tackling social media is staying ahead of the game. Are you paying attention to social media channels that are up and coming? Social networks that are seeing users multiply as fast as Blackhawks fans during playoff season? Most importantly, if you are in the travel industry, are you tackling those niche social media sites that cater to travel enthusiasts?
Enter Gogobot: Travel in the Know. The site launched in 2010 and has not slowed down since. Gogobot has reported over 2 million registered users, a growth of 650% YOY, and they are currently gaining a new member every 15 seconds. In 2011,Time Magazine named Gogobot as one of its “50 Best Websites” and the Gogobot iPhone application was awarded Apple’s “Editor’s Choice” in 2012 in addition to being listed byThe Huffington Post as one of the “Top 12 Social Media Apps for Travel.”
Gogobot is comparable to sites such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram – combined! You can connect with friends, add places to different categories within your profile, and create “postcards” within the mobile app. Being an avid traveler myself, I’d say Gogobot is a travel lover’s dream combination of a social network and an online travel agency – a place where they can both get and share recommendations from friends and experts AND find the best rates on hotels and airfare. Unlike sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor which contain reviews from random users, Gogobot provides users with advice on where to stay, what attractions to see, places to eat, and everything in between from friends in their social networks (including Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare) as well as vetted travel experts.
Straight From the Source
I reached out to Connie Chang, Gogobot’s Community Development Manager, to get the inside scoop. Here’s what she had to say:
Blue Magnet Interactive: What would you describe as Gogobot’s main mission?
Connie Chang:Our goal is to be the go-to travel site for trusted travel advice from trusted experts and friends. We want to be the site that will make people say when they use it, “How did I ever travel without this service?”
BMI: Any tips for users?
CC:We recently launched group trip planning, which makes it more easy and fun to create trip plans with the people you are traveling with.
BMI: Any exciting upcoming changes? New features?
CC:We just launched a way for users to tag their reviews [see image below] to help others see which traveler types (aka Tribes) they think places are good for. I’ve tagged Millennium Park as good for Arts & Culture, Family Travel, and Outdoors & Adventure. If you scan the reviews, you’ll see that we also show the reviewer’s expertise level in that destination (e.g. I’m an expert in Chicago)–a great signal to help travelers browsing our site for info.
BMI: What is your personal favorite feature on Gogobot?
CC: “Ask a Question” is my favorite feature on the site. I’ve found great gems recommended by fellow travelers that I probably would not have found if just researching on my own.
BMI: What are some of the Gogobot App highlights?
CC:Probably the most notable feature is our integration with Google Street View for Android, which uses the phone’s compass to turn your Android device into a virtual window, with 360-degree panoramic views of any location within our database. We also offer versions of our Android app in Japanese, Italian, German, Portuguese and Hebrew.
BMI: What do you want people to know about Gogobot?
CC: We are nearing the 1M review milestone!
BMI: What do you feel are the benefits of being a Gogobot user?
CC: Not only do Gogobot users receive the most personalized and trusted travel advice from experts and friends, they are recognized for their contribution on the site. Our most active users are acknowledged as our Gogobot Pros, and they receive exclusive invites to fun community events and cool swag.
Why Gogobot is Your Hotel’s New Best Friend
Hotel social networkers take note! Creating your own profile is a great opportunity to become the “expert” in your area. Think of your account as an online concierge service. Recommend the best places to eat outside, must see landmarks, pet friendly places, best places to take your kids, summer hotspots, and more through “Gogobot Guides.” Guides can easily be shared with guests if your hotel has a custom website by creating a widget and adding it to the site. In addition to sharing a wealth of area-related information, pay attention to your business’s details on the actual property page. Is your website listed? Are the amenities correct? Do you have high quality photos to add? Right now, these issues can be fixed by emailing the Gogobot team; however, Gogobot has announced that admin tools and the ability to “claim” your business page are in the works! Once these launch, you will be able to make your own edits to your business listing. Users are able to check prices and availability right then and there on property pages, so ensure yours is optimized.
Furthermore, Gogobot Guides and postcards convert into great content for your other social media networks. Have you seen a great guide that mentions an attraction or restaurant nearby your hotel? Did you create a guide to Atlanta or earn any Gogobot badges? Tweet about it or share it on your Facebook page!
Trip Planning Made Easy
Once you’ve logged in, there are plenty of ways to get involved in Gogobot’s online travel community. Plan a trip directly on the site, write a review of somewhere you’ve been, explore destinations and the hot spots within them, or ask the Gogobot community a question (i.e. “I’m heading to Chicago and need advice on places to stay near Wrigley Field – any suggestions?”). As you come across different restaurants and hotels, you are able to add those places to your profile under categories such as “Been Here,” “Want to Go,” or “Add to My Trip.” Within the network, search for people or places at the top of every page, follow your friends, follow city experts, search for destinations & hot spots based on the type of traveler you are (luxury, foodies, families – you name it), and create custom guides & postcards.
There’s An App For That
Within the Gogobot iOS and Android app, users can access trip plans while on the go, create digital postcards, and search for and book hotels, restaurants, and activities in over 60,000 global travel destinations. Newer additions to the Android App grant mobile users the capacity to search & book a hotel on the fly – complete with filters for real time hotel pricing and availability, user rankings, and hotel class.
One of the online marketing challenges that hotels often face is staying ahead of the constantly changing social media scene, especially when working with limited budgets and resources. From Pinterest to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and everything in between, how does your hotel decide which networks are priorities? According to ustravel.org, the internet is used by 90 million Americans to plan travel, making it the most widely-used information source to plan trips. A quarter of travelers use friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers as a travel planning source. Why is this information relevant? Gogobot is personalized such that reviews of particular places by the user’s friends appear higher in search results. By encouraging guests to review your hotel on Gogobot, you better your hotel’s chances at automatically appearing in searches. In turn, recommendations from friends, who are typically a trusted source, are more likely to transfer into new business for your hotel.
While Facebook and Twitter remain the most popular social networks and should be a hotel’s primary focus, if your hotel has a dedicated online marketing team or additional room in the budget for social media marketing, Gogobot is a worthwhile investment. Their niche travel-focused audience gives hotels ample opportunity to stay at the front of the trip planner/ travel lover’s mind and provide a call-to-action to boost conversions.