Is Twitter The Greatest Source of Travel Intelligence
posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2009 12:44 PM
A rise in the popularity of Twitter could mean it’s becoming one of the most useful tools on the web for researching your trip away.
Now that Twitter is in the mainstream or atleast on its way there its use as an effective means of gathering personally relevant travel intelligence is also emerging. The ability to put out a request to the Twittersphere and receive a quick, sometimes instantaneous reply from real, interactive humans clearly trumps the idea of sifting through google search results or travel sites for information and recommendations. The size of your audience is limited by the number of Followers you've managed to acquire but the conversational tone and format makes interaction easy.
Who uses Twitter?
There are all manner of people, companies, organisations, newspapers and magazines getting involved with Twitter. Some simply use the service as another way to distribute their RSS Feed and market themselves via automated posts, often resulting in an irritating dump of successive posts in your news stream. Of course there are also those who have become obsessed with Tweeting, posting every ten minutes, mistaking Followers for friends who care. This is where Twitter differs from sites like Facebook. Few users opt to 'protect' their posts like you do your Facebook account meaning updates are always in the public domain and anyone can follow anyone.
It's not uncommon to find travel journalists researching their assignments via Twitter, attempting to extract information from their Followers. This is one area I think you should show restraint in replying with favourite places and inside tips, despite the appeal of interacting with someone who has influence over what we read in the papers. Why divulge your secret travel spots to a journalist so that they can publish them for the masses to read in a national newspaper? Travel is about exploring, finding things out on your own and storing up those special places to share with friends and family, probably through Facebook.
Testing out the travel potential of Twitter
Benji Lanyado of the Guardian will be making a Twitrip around Paris soon based on the recommendations he gets through Twitter to demonstrate its use to the traveller. Needless to say he’s eager to grow his Twitter Following for this to work effectively. I’ve always been sceptical that mobile devices can play a role in how we carry travel information abroad but the loose, relevant, on-demand, conversational manner with which Twitter operates might just be changing my opinion on the topic. If only we could reduce the huge charges for data-roaming.
Twitchhiker is Paul Smith from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and on 1st March, he’ll attempt to travel as far around the world as possible in 30 days, relying only on the goodwill of people using. The project is all in the name of fundraising for charity: water and the rules of his quest are available to read on the Twitchhiker website.
Greater interaction through increased mobility
Twitter first came on the scene properly back in 2007. I'm sure that growth of the mobile internet and the launch of slick applications like Twitterfon for the iPhone and iPod Touch have contributed greatly to its rise in popularity and usefulness. It took an iPhone to get me Tweeting regularly for Make Travel Fair and demonstrate that the future of the web is in real-time social interaction and information exchange, not computer generated responses or search results. Another recent example of the web beginning to mingle with real life away from the computer screen is Microsoft Tag - photograph any of these coloured barcode symbols with your mobile phone camera and be taken directly to the associated website without entering a single URL.
Twitter tip: Follow all the latest Tweets on a particular topic by searching for it on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS Feed.
Do you agree that Twitter is a valuable resource for travel intelligence? Have you had success with Twitter when travelling or planning a trip? Have you received any local knowledge or information from someone following your Tweets?