I Heart TripIt

February 11th, 2008 22 Comments

23303721.jpgSo, I’m going on vacation tomorrow for a week. Keep reading if you care.

Coincidentally, I’ve been messing with two travel-targeted social networks lately, so it’s fitting that my last post before a trip would be about TripIt and Dopplr, less so.

These are niche networks, an ever-more common phenomenon; as horizontal social networks like Facebook and MySpace get more popular, spam, unwashed masses, ads and stalking are among the irritating side effects. Anyway, TripIt and Dopplr seek to provide a network of friends for people who travel, ideally allowing travelers to form first life meetups wherever possible.

Business travel can be lonely, so applying a social network to it makes sense. Of course, sharing travel plans has a creepy factor and is potentially dangerous. So, companies in this area need to give a warm fuzzy feeling of security. This is one reason I wasn’t an early adopter of Dopplr, which launched first and recently left private beta.

As with a lot of apps, it took trusted contacts to pull me into Dopplr and TripIt. While I was in San Francisco, Jeff Nolan pinged me asking if I had a Dopplr account. I knew about Dopplr, but hadn’t joined because of creepy/scary reasons, but it makes sense if you travel a lot. Travel is a necessary evil of the modern web worker. It’s the flip-side of the ability to telecommute and work from anywhere. Sometimes anywhere means travel.

And travel is a drag. So why not connect with friends/colleagues/associates while you’re on the road? Makes sense.

About the same time, Michael Feldstein invited me to TripIt. I get a fair amount of invitations to apps like Plaxo, which I plan to try out at some point, sooner if Google buys them, and Spock, which I’m officially ignoring. This was a new one, so I tabled it for later. A couple days after, I read Joel Spolsky’s (a.k.a. Joel on Software) glowing review of Tripit, which was enough to get me over the hump.

Joel is correct. TripIt is awesome, and there’s less overlap with Dopplr than I expected. TripIt has the social features, a network, sharing trips, etc. However, you can get value from TripIt without ever sharing trips or using the network.

Plus, it has a singularly killer feature. From the TripIt site:

So, I tried this out with my vacation itinerary for giggles. This was a true test because 1) the email was from a different account than the one I used to register with TripIt, 2) the confirmation email has really bare bones, referencing only a link:

1sm_travel.png

And 3) the trip was booked under my wife’s name.

TripIt quickly responded with a “Welcome to TripIt” email, which showed they created a new account for my email address, since it wasn’t registered. I figured I’d have to resend the mail from my other address to get the trip in the right account and live with duplicate accounts.

Nope. There’s a sweet merge accounts feature, so all I had to do was add the other account and confirm. Very easy and thoughtful. Obviously, they correctly deduced that people will have both business and personal email and travel. They also nailed another issue with travel itineraries; the margin for human error transcribing between itinerary and calendar.

Rich tells me he had issues with the itinerary generated by our internal travel system, but even so, this feature still rocks.

And did I mention that the bare bones email I forwarded was somehow perfectly reproduced in TripIt? Whatever secret sauce they use works like a champ. I’m with Joel on this. The design and function of TripIt represents perfectly what he calls the “Figure It Out school of user interface design”.

Truly refreshing.

Beyond this killer feature, there are other nice to haves. Some highlights: iCal feeds for your own itinerary and for your network connections, “Who’s Close?” to see which contacts will be nearby when you travel, TripSearch which looks like a SideStep-type travel site aggregator, which makes me wonder why I would use SideStep again.

In addition, TripIt aggregates content related to your trip like weather (from NOAA), city information (from Wikipedia), maps (from Google Maps), city pictures (from Flickr), current events (from Eventful, wonder why they chose this over Upcoming), airplane seat advice (from SeatGuru, how much advice can there be?), and dinner reservations (from OpenTable). Sweet. I hear this is called a “mashup”.

Getting back to Dopplr, aside from their UI, which looks good, I can’t really see a useful advantage. Their search had issues when I tried to enter my vacation destination, and even though Dopplr has first-mover advantage (i.e. a larger network), TripIt does not require the network to realize its utility. It could be used as a standalone travel planner without any networking.

Rich made a good point about Dopplr over Twitter:

geotweet.png

According to Craig, it turns out there is geo-location/Twitter mashup, called Twittermap, but it’s a work in progress.

cctweet.png

He was in Germany at the time, not Denver, so as he said, “it’s give or take 10,000 KM”.

Anyway, TripIt rules. Let me know if you want an invite.

Don’t expect much content while I’m gone. Paul will be busy doing VP things. Rich and Anthony are working to finish the groups remodel, so expect a redesigned Groups home soon. They’re also working on some sexy UI stuff, you know eye candy, to make Mix sizzle more.

See you next week.

Update: Rich complained that TripIt didn’t handle his itinerary from our corporate travel agency, which was a bit of a downer. However, looking at the TripIt corporate blog, apparently they plan to support business travelers as well as independents by including commonly used corporate booking tools and agencies.

How much do I love TripIt? So much awesomeness.


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22 Responses to “I Heart TripIt”

  1. Latest Venture news. Says:

    Jakeis right, TripIt is way better than Dopplr if for no other reason than the ability to email itinerary confirmations to the service and have it build a complete itinerary of your trip. Awesome.

  2. Travelers MAX - Just another travel blog for travelers by world travelers and all about traveling Says:

    networks, an ever-more common phenomenon; as horizontal social networks like Facebook and MySpace get more popular, spam, unwashed masses, ads and stalking are among the irritating side effects. Anyway, TripIt and Dopplr seek to provi Original post byOracle AppsLab » Driving Oracle Innovationand sponsored by Jamaica Travel Guide Take a – Jamaica Vacation Tour with JamaicaMAX.com Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2008 Under: Travel | No Comments »

  3. Michael Feldstein Says:

    Dude. Would I steer you wrong? ;)

  4. Michael Feldstein Says:

    Dude. Would I steer you wrong? ;)

  5. Jake Says:

    I don’t doubt you. You didn’t tell me how awesome it was though. Thanks for the hookup.

  6. Jake Says:

    I don’t doubt you. You didn’t tell me how awesome it was though. Thanks for the hookup.

  7. Tripit Does Rock | Venture Chronicles Says:

    [...] on February 11, 2008Filed Under web 2.0 | Jake is right, TripIt is way better than Dopplr if for no other reason than the ability to email [...]

  8. Matt Topper Says:

    I love TripIT, as someone who travels every week its a god send. What I’ve never understood is why the Airlines and hotels haven’t made this part of their points programs. It would be fantastic to automatically be told of someone with a layer in the airport, same hotel or even same flight. It wouldn’t be that hard to setup comparing people’s interests and other friends they’ve hooked up with. It would be a simple straight forward approach to social networking. Maybe something like this exists, but if the airlines and hotels are driving it we would obviously see much quicker adoption than just through the geek world as we see it with TripIt, etc.

    Anyone got some VC money or some contacts? Mr Starwood Arup Nanda are you listening?

    Yes the computing power would be massive, but we could use EC2 for that and the ability to sell into local restaurants / businesses would be massive.

  9. Matt Topper Says:

    I love TripIT, as someone who travels every week its a god send. What I’ve never understood is why the Airlines and hotels haven’t made this part of their points programs. It would be fantastic to automatically be told of someone with a layer in the airport, same hotel or even same flight. It wouldn’t be that hard to setup comparing people’s interests and other friends they’ve hooked up with. It would be a simple straight forward approach to social networking. Maybe something like this exists, but if the airlines and hotels are driving it we would obviously see much quicker adoption than just through the geek world as we see it with TripIt, etc.

    Anyone got some VC money or some contacts? Mr Starwood Arup Nanda are you listening?

    Yes the computing power would be massive, but we could use EC2 for that and the ability to sell into local restaurants / businesses would be massive.

  10. Jake Says:

    @Topper: I’m down for that. The only reason why airlines/hotels/rental car companies haven’t done this already I can think of is the standard, big business/slow adoption argument.

    Make it happen.

  11. Jake Says:

    @Topper: I’m down for that. The only reason why airlines/hotels/rental car companies haven’t done this already I can think of is the standard, big business/slow adoption argument.

    Make it happen.

  12. Meg Says:

    have a great trip Jake, you might want to check the boards to make sure you get the right gate this time.

  13. Meg Says:

    have a great trip Jake, you might want to check the boards to make sure you get the right gate this time.

  14. Frank Says:

    I recently joined as well. Trying to convince my colleagues to join as well as it would be a good way to track what location we are in each week – trying to do this via Collabsuite is just too cumbersome.

    On a personal level, I’ve just learned from TripIT that a friend living in Australia will be back in Ireland during the summer.

    Feel free to add me to your network.

    Frank

  15. Frank Says:

    I recently joined as well. Trying to convince my colleagues to join as well as it would be a good way to track what location we are in each week – trying to do this via Collabsuite is just too cumbersome.

    On a personal level, I’ve just learned from TripIT that a friend living in Australia will be back in Ireland during the summer.

    Feel free to add me to your network.

    Frank

  16. Jake Says:

    @Meg: Luckily, I was traveling w/my wife who pays attention to things like where a plane is going.

    @Frank: Sent you an invite.

  17. Jake Says:

    @Meg: Luckily, I was traveling w/my wife who pays attention to things like where a plane is going.

    @Frank: Sent you an invite.

  18. Jake Says:

    @Topper: Southwest may be going that way, check it:
    http://mashable.com/2008/02/21/southwest-bemoreproductive/

  19. Jake Says:

    @Topper: Southwest may be going that way, check it:
    http://mashable.com/2008/02/21/southwest-bemoreproductive/

  20. topperge Says:

    Guess what? I just tried TripIt again today with the Oracle corporate travel email and low and behold it worked! A++++ Would do business with again! More love for simple apps.

  21. Jake Says:

    Actually, it has worked for a long time now, since I first started using TripIt. I just didn't update this post. You get two confirmations from Oracle Travel; send the second one to TripIt.

    If something changed, it might be because I spoke to Andy Denmark after Web 2.0 Expo back in April and gave him a sample. Maybe they're rolling out corporate support now.

  22. A Story from the Vault « oracleidentitymanagement Says:

    [...] believer that we need more dead-simple email (and IM) interfaces into web services, which is why I’m a longtime fan of TripIt. People just can’t be bothered to try out this or that new service, and email isn’t [...]

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