We’ve talked about the shift of locations-based services moving into the local recommendations business, which looks like a smart use of location data. WHERE is taking the next step in the recommendations game by integrating its service with Facebook and Bump, helping its 4 million users get and share suggestions more easily.
The latest updates, which are in the newest versions of WHERE’s iOS and Android apps, build upon the service’s existing recommendation engine which debuted in December. That engine took explicit cues from users on their tastes and favorite places and offered “best bets” suggestions for where users should go. Now with Facebook integration, a user will be able to sign into WHERE using Facebook Connect and will be able to find other Facebook friends who use WHERE. By tapping on a friend’s profile page, a user can get a list of recommended places to go — called Perfect Places — based on the tastes of the user and his friend. The Facebook integration is only for finding friends, so it doesn’t utilize any likes, Facebook Places data or profile information. Still, it’s helpful in connecting two people and enabling WHERE to see places they might want to go together.
The recommendations are built off places that a user has saved on WHERE or has listed as a place she’d like to go. It also incorporates places that have just been viewed though the WHERE app, which is good for users who don’t actively save locations. Dan Gilmartin, WHERE’s VP of marketing, said more than 20 percent of users save information. But by using implicit data about viewed sites, which aren’t weighted as much as explicitly saved locations, WHERE is still able to provide recommendations for users.What’s also nice is that WHERE can use a person’s taste graph to recommend places in a new city unfamiliar to two friends.
Gilmartin said the opportunity now is in tackling the problem of where people should go instead of location services that are focused more on checking people in when they arrive. “People get together on Friday nights, and co-workers go out for lunch, but the question is: Where do you want to go?” said Gilmartin. “That can be really time-consuming, but [with] this social release [of WHERE], we really eliminate the pain point there.”
WHERE is also integrating the Bump API to allow two WHERE users to bump their phones together and get recommendations. Sharing through Bump can happen between users who aren’t friends. It’s a simple mechanic, but it also connects more users to WHERE’s recommendation engine. That’s where the power of local recommendation services come from: in user data. It’s why the Facebook and Bump updates are useful, because it helps WHERE better understand its users and what they might like by making the process more social. The recommendation business is still young, but WHERE is proving it’s taking this very seriously. It would be nice if it got more data from competing location services, but it seems to rightly understand the value and power of delivering good places suggestions.
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