Gowalla plots providing best user experience to explore the world

Gowalla is looking to push to the next level with its position as a pioneer in geo-location services and now become a major player in the travel industry.


Founder and CEO Josh Williams, in London for the GeekNRolla conference, describes Gowalla as the platform for users to track and log their life stories, including trips and travel experiences.

By tracking check-ins, comments, photos and video uploads, Gowalla can not only identify flights and venues, but in particular assess the specific emotions attached to each place, he says.

Comments like “great romantic spot” or “kids are having fun” attach emotions to places, and taken collectively, Williams believes, such emotions “build a trend which can be important to society”.

The idea is that people traveling to a new location can then use their friends’ stories and shared content as personalized travel guides, instead of the classic travel guidebooks.

Williams also commented on collecting badges and items, a process he doesn’t see as a “gamification” trend like competitor FourSquare, but rather as a fundamental need for people to collect highlights of their lives, just like people bring home travel charms as souvenirs.

Gowalla has started implementing advertising programs with brands targeting specific locations, such as SouthWest Air which wants to promote a new route to people and is urging them check-in at the particular destination, or nearby services.

Sport events or music festivals are where most of the action is today, Williams says, but predicts over time – and once more intelligence is made available – that brands will become smarter when targeting users.

He says: “We want to be at the intersection of people and places. We want to provide the best user experience to explore the world”.

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Daniele Beccari

About the Writer :: Daniele Beccari

Daniele Beccari is a contributor to tnooz, and head of travel products at Criteo.

As travel technology strategist, he has helped startups and blue-chip corporations define and launch innovative solutions in leisure, corporate, online and mobile sectors. He also served as Vice President, Europe and B2B, at Isango! (now part of TUI), and previously as head of corporate products for the e-travel division of Amadeus.

He started his career at HP, working on what is known today as the Internet of things. An MBA graduate from INSEAD, Daniele can be found somewhere between Paris, London, Turin, San Francisco or Tokyo.

Daniele's views are his alone and not the views of his clients or employers.



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