Those are some of the things that TripAdvisor¬†must have in mind for users and the competitive landscape as it introduced in beta a new Facebook app, Local Picks, which combines dining recommendations from friends and locals.
The English-language app covers 850,000 restaurants globally and taps into consumer reviews and opinions culled from TripAdvisor’s websites around the world.
One seemingly cool aspect of Local Picks for tourists is that its rating system, with scores from one to five, aims to emphasize off-the-beaten track, but stellar restaurants “as deemed by real locals who know the area best,” TripAdvisor says.
As restaurant maven Yelp does, TripAdvisor’s Local Picks provide the basics about a dining establishment, including the location, cuisine type, phone number, website link, menus, hours of operation — and photos, as well.
Local Picks taps into Facebook’s social graph and is the latest of several TripAdvisor apps on Facebook.
A news feed on Facebook keeps tabs on your Facebook friends’ check-ins and their recently rated restaurants, and users can also follow foodies who may be outside of their social networks and consequently not on speed-dial when you need to figure out where to go for eats.
Celebrity chefs and other culinary experts would fit into this category.
When you register for Local Picks, it asks for information about your particular tastes in restaurants to personalize your experience, and you can also browse a Local Picks Index and Top Picks to see which restaurants get great ratings.
In addition to accessing information from TripAdvisor, Local Picks gets supplemental photos and information about restaurants from foursquare, Facebook Pages and menu information from Single Platform.
TripAdvisor has long been known as a user-generated content site focusing on hotels, but it also has a treasure trove of user information about restaurants which it hasn’t spent much time seeking to moneti yet.
Nothing about Local Picks says TripAdvisor is going to immediately drill down on restaurant monetization, but the Facebook app and all the social graph information collected sure won’t hurt any future efforts in that direction.
Google recently tweaked its Local business listings, including those in Google+ and Google Maps on the desktop and in mobile, to emphasize restaurant reviews from Zagat, which Google acquired last year.
In so doing, Google is butting up against restaurant review site Yelp, and the two companies, along with TripAdvisor, have clashed over regulatory issues and Google’s search practices.
Now, with Local Picks, you can add TripAdvisor to the restaurant-review free-for-all.