Social travel gets graphic as Trippy, Wanderfly, Gogobot, Gtrot display Pinterest interest

Get ready for lots of boards, photos and pinning as social travel companies discover the social power of photos and get travel inspiration from Pinterest.

You can envision that “visual” is where social travel is headed and it will be tough for the legions of social travel competitors to differentiate themselves in the rush to populate users’ boards and grids with flashy photos and maps.

Trippy joined the craze this week, redesigning its website to emphasize visual browsing, led by a so-called celebrity group of investors and travel bloggers, who will be posting their pix to spur your wanderlusting impulses, whether you have travel dates in mind or not.

The advisory board includes Jason Mraz, Rachel Zoe, Anthony Bourdain, Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg, Andrew Zimmern, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chase Jarvis, Soleil Moon Frye, Soraya Darabi, Johnny Jet, Veronica Belmont, Kim Mance, Brett Snyder, Gary Arndt, Peter Shankman and Boo (the canine). (Will there be a Facebook contest to see who can identify them all?)

With Trippy, as with social-media trendsetter Pinterest, users will be able to create travel boards and pin images to them from anywhere on the Web. You can also view friends’ destination photos and choose whether you “want to go” or “been there” and add and share comments.

And, of course, you can use the photos to create trips and get recommendations from social media.

And, Trippy, which debuted in October 2011, explains:

Each travel photo is geo-tagged, which helps people remember the locations of all the places they’re inspired to visit and also allows them to see their collection of photo ideas plotted on a map. When travelers are ready to turn their ideas into a real trip, Trippy taps into their social network to show friends who know about the places they’re interested in.  This makes it easy to get personally-relevant ideas, creating a full-circle travel-planning experience.

Pinterest is generating more traffic than the Jersey Shore on Memorial Day weekend (OK, pick and substitute your local beach destination and holiday), and tons of social travel sites are feeling the impact and will undoubtedly follow suit.

The new Gtrot, which is shifting from social travel planning to social-oriented city discovery, attractively puts images front and center. Theree are no Pinterest-like photo pinning and boards yet, but who knows — there’s time for that in the next iteration.

Social travel site Wanderfly, too, announced a site redesign this week, emphasizing that it is venue for “visual travel discovery.”

Wanderfly users can “recommend, add photos and save your favorite spots (map ’em too!),” the company says.

And, Gogobot, as part of the trend, enables you to upload photos, reviews and maps of places you’ve been to your personalized passport and to create custom guides. While the Gogobot passport taps into social travel’s emphasis on imagery for inspiration, the Gogobot passport features predates all of the Pinterest hype.

Photo-led browsing and search indeed are inspiring.

But, the travel industry has seen this many times, with metasearch and travel inspiration sites coming to mind — there is a rush to capitalize on a trend and then it is hard to distinguish one site from another as they all vie for audience before the inevitable shakeout.

All of the above sites do their social travel somewhat differently.

But as they redesign their user interfaces with Pinterest-like visual browsing in the forefront, they will have to labor to ensure they don’t all get lost in a crowd shot.

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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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  12. Jonny Miller

    Thanks for the insights Gary!

    It was interesting to hear J.R.Johnson speak at SXSW on exactly ‘how to get a great board of advisors…’ he said ‘if you can get 100 advisors then get 100’ ( and I agree 100% it seems like a super smart strategy.

    Marketing value aside, we’ve found there so many decisions must be made on a daily basis, it makes sense to have trusted people to turn to whenever specific issues arise. As a founder of a travel start-up myself, we have been contacting travel bloggers, not for marketing purposes but because they comprise a vital part of our customer segment and their feedback is essential. Even for basic questions like ‘yes I’d definitely use that feature’ or ‘no that’s a waste of time’, its always worth it! It would be fascinating to hear how J.R. Johnson won your vote of confidence for Trippy!

    We have benefited immensely from being within the Start Up Chile community and having other experienced entrepreneurs to turn to for advice. I’m convinced that anyone attempting anything of this nature in a bubble is destined to fail.

    Interesting also to see also that Everplaces, Circleme and wikitrips are yapping at the heels of Trippy with similar pinterest-esque front-end ideas (dog pun intended!)

  13. Gary Arndt

    As one of the people on the advisory abord for Trippy, I let me say a few things:

    1) The advisory board is just that. We aren’t involved in the day to day management and planning of the company and we aren’t the board of directors. I’ve given the team there some ideas as has everyone else on the board I assume (Well maybe not the dog. I have no clue about that). Much of the advice I’ve given is in the area of how to work with bloggers, and more importantly how NOT to work with bloggers.

    2) I can understand why people say Trippy/Gogobot/etc are ripping off Pinterest. It was my first reaction too. However, I’ll raise the following question: Did Pinterest develop a new way of interfacing with visual information in addition to making a new website? Most websites are columns, links, menus, etc. I think a good argument can be made that Pinterest is a GUI for browser based navigation of images. Even 500px recently launched a redesign and it is very Pinterest-y in how you navigate it. Similar to how OSX, Windows, Ubuntu and other graphical operating systems all sort of have the same way of navigating. I don’t know if this is the case, but there are a lot of sites which are organizing visual information this way now. There are even apps for Facebook which let you navigate your Facebook photos this way. There are lots of different backends and things you can do with a common image based front end. As more and more features at added to all of the travel sites listen in this article, I think the difference between them and Pinterest will become more obvious.

    3) I realize for people in the travel industry it is very easy to be cynical about Trippy’s approach to their advisory aboard, but if you are looking for places to visit/eat/stay, seeing what Anthony Bourdain likes is probably a very good marketing strategy and a way to set your self apart from a crowded field. If you look at how difficult it is for internet startups to get attention in marketplace of people clamoring for attention, I’m not sure it is a bad idea. (Again, I have no clue how the dog fits in 🙂

    4) I know that the visual front end with Trippy launched is nowhere close to their final plans. I’m not at liberty to talk about their future plans (and I’ve only gotten a briefing), but it goes well beyond the visual front end. I understand why people are making the Pinterest comparison because that was my first reaction too, but they will be launching more features to put behind the Pinterest-y interface. I’m sure all of the above companies will be doing the same.

    Yes, in the interest of disclosure, I work with Trippy so feel free take everything I say with a big grain of salt.

    I do not speak on behalf of the management of Trippy and all thoughts and opinions here are my own. I did not discuss this post with anyone at Trippy.

  14. Jim Kovarik

    I have to admit I was sitting in the skeptical camp as to whether or not Pinterest would hold any real value to travel providers and didn’t really see any tie-in for Cost2Drive.

    That is until I checked our referral traffic today and saw 33 visits from Pinterest and found out 23 people had pinned our site (some examples below)

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  16. Daniele Beccari

    Nevertheless, the fact is that visual search with curation attracts more user engagement than boring SEO-spinned articles. No one is to blame for increasing that metric.

    Innovation also means simply improving on other’s initial trials and executing to success. Like Google in 2000, like Facebook in 2005.

    • Jonny Miller

      Agreed, no innovation happens in a vacuum, all innovations (and websites) are influenced by and to some degree ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ of all those that have come before them…

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  18. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Mike: I feel compelled to react to one thing you said. “The number of inspiring places in the world is highly limited to maybe 100-200.”

    Are you kidding me? You really need to get out more:)

    • Jonny Miller

      I might just go jump off a cliff it that was the case 😉

    • Mike

      Maybe I have chosen the wrong words, I wanted to stress that there is a huge base of places that everybody thinks are inspiring so these sites should target for the long tail instead of repeating themselves over and over and over again. And this long tail are 100-200 places the average person does not know about.

      Maybe 100-200 is not enough but I have seen the world so I know that many “inspiring” places turn out to be boring and crowded but at times with nice photo opportunities so the line between traveling to pimp a facebook profile and traveling to be inspired is very thin.

      And in the end…. the people you meet while traveling can be way more inspiring than places.

      • Stuart McD

        “And in the end…. the people you meet while traveling can be way more inspiring than places.”

        Bang on.

      • Kevin May

        Kevin May

        @mike – “the people you meet while traveling can be way more inspiring than places.”


        But the people you meet can be as annoying as the destinations, too!!

        Read William Sutcliffe’s hilarious “Are You Experienced?” spoof of backpacking life for details 😉

        • Dave

          “Are You Experienced?” +1

          Also the best toilet scene written in any book, period 🙂

  19. Kevin May

    Kevin May


    I asked Trippy today to respond to some of the comments made here, but it has declined.


    • Troy Thompson

      What, Soleil Moon Frye is busy responding to comments about other start-ups?

      Ignoring those who care/talk about your product (positive or negative) is not a smart move.

      – Troy

  20. Mike

    Travel inspiration sites will go absolutely nowhere. The number of inspiring places in the world is highly limited to maybe 100-200. Looking at trippy, there are multiple pictures of the same places within a short scrolling distance. People have a base desire of places that they want to visit at least once in a lifetime (Sydney, New York, Paris, Bora Bora etc.), thus these will make up 90% of the content but are nothing new. The only “new” inspiration that I saw in the last year was the Hanging Gardens hotel but that’s about it.

    How do these sites want to monetize with the high discrepancy between the inspiration and affordability? Looking at pictures of Bora Bora can be very inspiring but also depressing at the same time as most of the people can not afford a vacation in these $1k+ overwater bungalow. The revenue per sale will be fine but the conversion rates will by far be the worst in the travel business.

    • Jonny Miller

      @Mike interesting view but I have to disagree with “The number of inspiring travel places in the world is limited to 100-200.” Places can be inspiring for a multitude of different reasons, what trippy lack at the moment is an effective search/filter and an active pinning community of travellers who feel the urge to pin their inspiring content. Will be interesting to see what they have in the pipeline…

  21. Karl

    Hi Dennis,

    Although I don’t like knock off artists I do like to see companies moving with the times and trends. Hitwise reported that Pinterest had around 108m ‘hits’ in February making it one of the worlds top 30 websites AND its still in Beta! so I don’t think that any of the companies mentioned in your article will steal numbers from Pinterest but they will certainly make their own user experience more interesting – which is probably what they are aiming for?



  22. Carl Hancock

    So you’re telling me that with an advisory board which includes Jason Mraz, Rachel Zoe, Anthony Bourdain, Kevin Rose, Tim Ferriss, Randi Zuckerberg, Andrew Zimmern, Gary Vaynerchuk, Chase Jarvis, Soleil Moon Frye, Soraya Darabi, Johnny Jet, Veronica Belmont, Kim Mance, Brett Snyder, Gary Arndt, Peter Shankman and Boo.. the dog… that the best thing Trippy could come up with is a complete knock off of Pinterest?

    Has anyone on that advisory board not noticed that Pinterest itself HAS a travel section and a far bigger userbase to make that travel section far more active than Trippy will EVER be?


    I would have expected more from such a solid group of advisors and investors. Not impressed. At all.

  23. Josh

    Like I say, the following of the said sites, the investors and or their so called advisory board :
    – Technologically handicapped
    – Not knowing that ‘Imitation is the Sincrerest Form of Cluelesness’ – I say
    – Their Motto- When in doubt? Watch a Trend. and then..Copy copy copy and/or copy each other- will crap out
    – Jump the Gun and shout out loud ” i was first in line and first out the block”
    – The Squeky wheel gets the (palm) grease.(d). ..

    Network, Mingle and Explore social/personal circles, VCs and funds, and fool them, make them feel “wow.. I am gonna be an investor in the next “so the founder says facebook of travel” Why? “coz’ I missed pinterest, facebook and linkedin and dont wanna miss this next thing – whatever this next thing maybe as long as the techno-babble/geek lang mixed with a vague understanding of travel is spitted out with a complete PPP and a master business plan – I AM IN .. coz something sure will stick. and I support it.. fully with my name, my money.. and Voila! a new (up)Start-Up – Objectively speaking

    There is no yield management, no look-to-book ratio , no analytics as to the value these sites bring to real world situations, who is a supplier, who is a buyer, whats the product? what service is this? how can this make travel stress and hassle-free. How can travel be booked in a manner that reduces costs to a supplier and increases revenue for Hotels, Airlines, Cruises, DMOs.. how can different anciliary servics be brought together in a manner that is efficient where information and products are in 1 place without disparate street-hawks shouting out different theories and versions at a traveler confusing the complete process of a travel transaction. Suppliers Take Control.. wake up..

    Thats the worry I have of these sites, too many feet muddy the waters..
    ….and I am waiting for the first arrow….

    • jeremy head

      Hey Josh
      I am loving your comments… who are you? (Honest question!)

      • Josh

        Hey Jeremy..
        I am anonymous for now, but like everyone else, consider myself an insider, a lifer (travel) looking in from outside… I like to jump fences to see if the other lawns are really green, concluding that – every lawn has some kind of a weed, persistence is what will rid the lawn of it.

        Jeremy, not to take anything away from the conversation but anonymity allows for proper perception from a wider audience without any bias.
        It’s like ‘ an Airline guy? a Hotel industry professional? a travel professional? a travel media executive? a travel writer/blogger? an analyst? a travel technologist?” each one of these entities bring (incorrectly and sometimes correctly perceived by others)a certain type of baggage/bias along with them from the industry or trade they are part of, in conversations such as this and the importance, experience and value of inputs they share and the observations they make gets notionally diluted with what they say and how it is understood or misunderstood by the community and that is one of the reason for the anonymity.

        The story and the subsequent conversation and discussion is more important.
        Thanks for asking though and appreciate your shout out.

  24. FriscoPete

    The key here as someone pointed out above, is that these guys have no content of their own, so they need to try to get it from somewhere and it’s repeatable, with zero barrier to entry. Pivoting is good, but when it’s due to the fact that there isn’t a real idea at play and you’re just grasping for straws, well, the smart money gets out when the getting is good. Gtrot, trippy, wanderfly – probably gogobot – they’re all going to end up in the F.A.I.L bucket especially the one with the lame celebrity doggy on the “board of advisors.” I think everyone here (except for the planted cheerleaders) knows it.

  25. Michael

    Trends will come and go like they have always done. I think we are still yet to see anyone capitalize on the true potential of social media. These sites that you have mentioned here are great for inspiration but there is a still a big disconnect from the actual transaction. That is why the big OTAs are just laying back and laughing all the way to the bank right now as it is a win-win situation for them.

    Think back 10-15 years and the situation was somewhat similar. You got inspiration from your friends and glossy magazines then went and booked with a travel agent. Not a lot has changed really, it’s just moved online.

  26. David Urmann

    One of the reasons I think Pinterest does so well is that that the user profiles convey so much about who the user is. I think if this model is applied to travel it should be done so in a way that the board captures the essential elements of the persons travel style. Maybe if Trippy used some of my Facebook data to suggest my boards it would be a step in this direction.

  27. Jonny Miller

    Intriguing article! I think the beauty of the bookmarklet is that is useful for both travellers to aggregate handy/inspiring travel resources and brands to curate content and engage with fans. I’d actually quite like to see what cool ukuleles and surfboards Jason Mraz pins on his boards!

    What is really missing from the mix is a decent search and taxonomy. Pinterest’s categories are insanely rigid (presumably reindexing their databases would be too expensive) and their search capabilities are pretty abismal! Trippy might have one in the pipeline but it was clearly not viewed as essential.

    I believe the future is in being able to effectively filter and explore what the user finds inspiring… Imagine being able to see the most inspiring geo-tagged surf spots or maybe the quirkiest geo-tagged treehouses all over the world…or is that just me?

  28. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    William: About the big guys, you make an interesting point. The large OTAs generally don’t rush out after trends. Look at how long it took Expedia to enter social media, for example. They can afford to sit back and wait to see where the dust settles.

    Also, it is important to note that although most of the big OTAs have travel inspiration features, they don’t focus on travel inspiration.

    I heard the Expedia CFO speak recently at one of those investment conferences. He tellingly noted that while all the hype revolves around the early stages of the trip-planning funnel (i.e. Trippy, Gtrot, Wanderfly, Gogobot), most of the money goes closer to the transaction.

    • Josh

      Dennis, agreeing with you and expanding a bit, there is this thing called ” transaction” being/getting paid for services rendered, product sold and for any commercial or e-commerce transaction it needs to have a module in place to accept and exchange.

      Curious as to what these (UP)start-ups are pretending to do? or trying to sell? besides pimping and aggregating content via various APIs and then re-coating them and selling them as ” come we will guide you .. bla bla” what is their profit model? how do you make money besides re-selling services of the IAN/ and other affiliate travel service networks? if that is so, then guess who controls the user in the end;)?

      Content is King, and none of these folks have any genuine content that isn’t tapped off of an API or a 3rd party, I wonder how that plays out down the line.. hmm .. disliking.
      And I predict if tomorrow a new passing trend catches the fancy of users, I can guarantee that all will sway to the winds in that direction..

      I could go on, but this is the wild west of travel days and we will see more of these useless and time wasting sites prop up, so before the dust settles down…

      • Razvan Tirboaca

        Hey Josh,

        One thing: there is so much content (in general) produced everyday, on the web, that people don’t need any more publishers, travel included. These platforms compete with TripAdvisor and Google (translation: let the content come to me without searching it).

        The UI and stuff is another discussion, I just wanted to make a point. Google is not a publishers and they’re doing very well with their business model…

  29. William El Kaim

    Travelers digital habits and preferences evolve. So do web sites. I do not see any issue having all of these sites offering pinterest like dashboards. Inspiration through pictures. Inspirations through video. Inspiration from printed catalogue. The secret sauce is still not found.

    I just found amazing to see these guys reacting so quickly … All the big brands are still offering in their landing page the good old trip form (origin, destination, date, …).

  30. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Happy Hotelier: And from what godforsaken social network did you dig up this James Craven dude? He looks familiar.

  31. Happy Hotelier

    Lol this reminds me soo much about what I wrote here

    Seeing Tooz as one of the tribe masters herding the travel gurus…

  32. Dave

    1) I might be the only one, but isn’t the gazillions of traffic from Pinterest hitting up wedding paraphernalia and the odd handbag merchants whilst the reality of Travel Photos is producing minute traffic let alone conversions?

    2) I presume much like all the other Pinterest “like” sites all of the above are taking full rights to redistribute, sell, and alter anyone’s photos that are posted to said sites?

    3) The dog thing …

  33. Stuart

    Two thoughts:

    All those peeps on the adv board and the best they could do was a blatant pinterest ripoff?

    I assume they let the “pinners” (or should we call them “trippers”/”tipsters”) do the geo tagging – dragons be down that path.

  34. Josh

    I wonder where the innovators and new ideas are, and when the copycats will be done, I guess these are the times when every startup gets its inspiration from others in copying anything that catches on in this case Pinterest seems to be the perfect inspiration to copy off of.
    Innovation is no more the criteria for these travel sites to offer something different, as long as they have a few devs and a few prominent personalities who have no clue as to what they are supporting but who simpy support based on heresy of grand ideas (if they only knew that these are copycats) and go invest either their monies or their names and in a broader perspective these are the sign of the times.
    Rinse and Repeat put on a new body, follow the path of the originals and hope success finds you, or in a year or two fall by the wayside and then try and re-invent oneself in another realm, this is where we are at.
    All if not most of these companies are web design development firms and who know nothing of the industry they are trying to be part of except to see an opportunity and hope to succeed with the gullible masses of the share an apps or story generation.
    If all a company desires is for the USERS to provide feedback, stories, share their trip, their adventures with like-minded travelers and with wayless travellers in need of some “so called experts” and then capitalise it by offering affliated products curated via the original sellers of travel and then pretending to be providing services of value, I doubt these will succedd maybe to an extent, but beyond that things get caught on and we know who is fooling whom.

    We have ways to go before this industry truly finds a google or a facebook that is solely travel oriented and provides the “real deal” be it a service or an advice or a review, that is besides being socially aware of a users profile and location can also dig deep into a plethora of tools.
    Pick on me as you find suitable, but dont be a supporter of the sites mentioned above and try to expect my response, because whatever the arguments on their behalf or in support, I stand by what I said.

    Be innovative bring something to the table of value and stop being a copycat and copycat and then again copycat. Or is it the sign o the times…..

    • Claire

      I agree with your comments, Josh. Why do we even need all these blatant copies of sites that already exist? For that matter, why do we need millions more social media sites being created all the time? Facebook is the only one I need to keep in touch with friends & Pinterest is good for keeping my website bookmarks organized etc. Life is too busy to spend it on any more sites than we already try to juggle with our lives offline. Can’t these developers design things that the world actually needs & are original?

      • Josh

        Originality requires understanding of a problem within a given field that understanding is lacking amongst these folks, doing something that the world needs is exactly what they presumably think they are doing and they think the world needs a Pinterest kind of travel site.

        What happens when a Lion leaves its prey? ….who comes to take a bite out of it? … exactly..but when the Lions returns, they scatter .. but they scatter after having taken some bites off of its prey.. are you getting my hint? in this case Pinterest or the larger OTAs are the Lions.. and the rest.. well.. u know…..


    • Varun

      i’m creating a social travel blogging app where you can log your experiences, and see what your friends, family, and the public have done locally or around the world.

      check it out, and let me know what you guys think.

  35. Pete Meyers

    Ah – ok. Just google’d the little fella. Cute dog.

    Also tried looking him up on Twitter at, but unfortunately that account is, ahem, squatted by a beret-wearing chihuahua.

  36. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Pete: So I’m told, but it’s (he’s?) the “cutest dog in the world.” Not just any dog:)

  37. Pete Meyers

    Boo the canine? There’s an advisory board member who is a dog?

  38. Troy Thompson

    Good stuff Dennis.

    I like Trippy, even with their promotional-driven advisory board, but I agree with your last point…why are all of these start-ups mimicking the UI of an already popular site?

    I am just not convinced that enough users will travel down 3 levels of Facebook separation to use a niche social network. Facebook (1) > Pinterest (2) > Trippy (3).

    As a peer of mine said, if Pinterest already does travel well, then why do I need to be on Trippy?

    I love the idea of social travel planning, but I am not sure the path to success will be pinned to a board.

    – Troy


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