Gogobot move over — Uptake goes social with unstructured Facebook data

Uptake joined the social, trip-planning crowd, but it says its new feature is superior because it mines unstructured data from Facebook.

You can log-in on the Uptake homepage using your Facebook credentials to access Uptake’s new Travel Q&A feature in beta and get recommendations from your Facebook friends about destinations on your bucket list.



But Uptake believes its solution is superior to those of other social travel sites, such as Gogobot, because Uptake’s search technology goes beyond analyzing structured data (i.e. check-ins and places people have lived) and retrieves unstructured data (status updates, photo tags and comments) from Facebook.

“It is interesting and a good place to start,” says Yen Lee, Uptake co-founder and President, of Gogobot’s allegedly more limited approach, “but how many places have you lived and how many places have you checked-in?”

Travis Katz, Gogobot co-founder and CEO, didn’t react to Uptake’s claims about the nature of Gogobot’s data, but said: “There are lots of companies these days who are trying to imitate what we are doing at Gogobot. We wish them well.”

Uptake says of its new Travel Q&A feature:

This new service analyzes both friends’ explicit location data, such as hometowns and check-ins, as well as friends’ less-obvious, implicit location data, which contains nearly 70% of friends’ destinations in the form of photos, status updates and comments.

Lee claims that Uptake, using natural language search and by “structuring the unstructured data on Facebook,”  usually knows of more than 1,000 destinations that each Facebook user’s friends have been and therefore can better determine who the Uptake user should ask for travel recommendations.

Uptake has two other major differentiators when it comes to social travel, Lee argues. Uptake’s 3 million unique users in October made it the third largest trip-planning site, behind TripAdvisor and Yahoo Travel, and Uptake offers the “most comprehensive library” of activities when users are trying to get more information about their friends’ recommendations, he adds.

Uptake says it has categorized 1.8 million “destination ideas, hotels, restaurants, activities and attractions.”



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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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  3. Bob

    Intriguing. Social + travel with a much more interesting angle. The key should be making sense of the unstructured data to implicitly and directly connect with you and your thoughts with your friends who have already been there…now then the question is…can Uptake tell me where I want to go next…oh crystal ball?

    The “here” on second paragraph is a dud! It ain’t working!!!

  4. Pablo O'Brien

    Kudos to Yen, Gene, Lesley and the rest of the team on the launch. I really like some of the features and appreciate that they’re taking on such a big technical challenge. Very interesting stuff.

  5. patriciaj

    I look forward to learning and planning my next trip via UpTake’s Q&A. A nice solution to the difficulty in planning travel.

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @patriciaJ – there used to be a Patricia J at Uptake. Are you the same person?

  6. Gene McKenna

    Jim Kovarik – great example of a false-positive with “Buffalo”. We’ve been at natural language search processing for years finding insightful comments in millions of reviews of hotels and attractions and you are right, it isn’t easy. Mining unstructured text in facebook can be even more difficult because language is less formal on facebook. Needless to say, we’ve been working hard to teach our system to avoid thousands of those false positives. Like when someone says “at my friends” they don’t mean that they are at Friends Bar in Austin, nor Friends Bar & Grill in Newton, PA. It’s a challenge and that’s what makes it fun!

    • Jim Kovarik

      agree — its a challenge in a fun way 🙂 I knew you guys had probably advanced this beyond our 2007- era hacking. Congrats, and will definitely give it a look.

  7. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Jim: Typo fixed.

  8. John

    This should really be a great resource-it seems that they have figured out a way to leverage Facebook to take advantage of their massive database. Can’t way to see how it plays out, it’s definitely a contender in the travel space

  9. Ori Zaltzman

    Congrats Yen and Leslie!

  10. Jim Kovarik

    Kudos to Yen and Uptake on adding this feature and the 3MM UV/mth. Huge volume of visitors.

    The challenge with the unstructured data is what I’ll call the ‘Buffalo complex’. We uncovered this while at AOL when we started pulling tagged photos into our destination guides . It worked well for 90% of the queries, but inevitably you had pictures of bison showing up in the Buffalo, NY guides.

    TripAdvisor has such a huge lead here because of their Cities I’ve Visited app where millions (if not tens of millions) of people have explicitly tagged over 1 BN locations they’ve visited and its all tied to the social graph. And now that they’ve acquired CIV’s competitor (Where I’ve Been) they’ve extended their lead here even further, making this a daunting challenge for any startup to overcome.


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