In an attempt to build more regular engagement, a number of social travel sites have started styling themselves after Pinterest, which has become its own travel discovery resource for many users. Now, Gogobot, the biggest of the social travel services, is falling in line, putting big pictures front and center as part of a new web site redesign.
But don’t call it a Pinterest-clone for travel. The site is trying to differentiate itself by using bigger photos, which are largely pulled from its trove of user-submitted postcards from Gogobot’s mobile app. That’s different from Pinterest and other travel sites that use photos often pinned from the web. Gogobot is also connecting pictures to its large database of structured information, so clicking on an image pulls up data on a location, including user reviews, other images, hotel information and other planning tools.
The idea is to make Gogobot more visually inspiring and more of a regular resource for users, who don’t have to be trip planning to get something out of the service. The redesign also helps Gogobot make better use of all of its photos which were less accessible in the old news feed-based format. And it gives users another way to get into Gogobot’s database of 60,0000 destinations and 8 million places shared by users. Ultimately, it’s still about being a great, personalized travel resource, said founder and CEO Travis Katz.
“A lot of other services are focusing on purely inspiration, but you can’t use Pinterest to plan a trip,” said Katz. “For Gogobot, it’s not just about going visual, but tying visuals to useful information. We are focused on not just giving you ideas but also the tools to take it from idea to action as fast as possible.”
Gogobot, which taps people’s social connections to help them plan trips, has emphasized photos from its launch in 2010 with its passports feature, starting out with a collection of 200,000 images. After the release of its mobile app in October, it’s now getting tens of thousands of images a week from users, most of them uploaded from their smartphones. But in the old design, many of the photos were accessible only when people drilled down into individual locations.
Gogobot follows in the footsteps of services like Trippy and Gtrot, which have rolled out more Pinterest-like interfaces. Gogobot, however, is a lot bigger than those rival services, having recently passed 1 million users. The move to a more visual interface highlights the ongoing challenges for social travel services. Travel is still an activity that’s only done a few times a year so it’s hard to build a lot of regular engagement around a social travel service. Gogobot and others have to figure out a way to keep people coming back between big trips. Getting visual helps address that need but it’s still not clear if that will sustain many of these services with enough traffic and ultimately revenue.