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Next Stop For Google Alums: A Review Site

imageIs there room for a new review site in a market dominated by companies like Citysearch and Yelp? — which officially launches today — thinks it has found a niche: Short, Tweet-like reviews of businesses and locales (See above right for an example). “It’s a lot like what you would (say) if you had a friend who was visiting (your city) — the whole site is built around positive, short recommendations,” co-founder Adrian Graham tells paidContent. Graham, along with co-founder Carl Sjogreen have deep Google (NSDQ: GOOG) pedigrees: Graham helped launch both Google Groups and Picasa, while Sjogreen was instrumental in the creation of Google Calendar. A third founder is Charles Lin. For now, they’re backing Nextstop with their own funds. Graham declined to say how much they have invested in the business.

Graham says that he along with Sjogreen and Lin launched out of their own frustration while traveling to cities they were not familiar with. “It’s difficult to find interesting things to do — both specific to our personal interests and that are unusual or off of the beaten path,” he says. Graham acknowledges, though, that it’s also a space that advertisers are particularly interested in. “Advertising is a really lucrative opportunity in the travel and local spaces — that is definitely something we thought was an interesting opportunity,” he says, adding that when people are actively looking to discover a new location, they are also more receptive to advertising. At the moment, though, advertising is not a priority for the site, since content has to come first.

Nextstop has been in testing since fall. To populate the site with reviews, the founders turned to friends and also to prominent bloggers, who have contributed either specific reviews or collections of them (called guides). There are now entries for locations in more than 1,000 cities in 100 countries, although for the moment the site highlights only 12 major locations on its home page. Anyone can contribute — but there are some limits. For instance, reviews can’t exceed 160 characters — and they’re almost always positive. “The idea is it’s easy to share because it focuses people … They don’t write a whole story that is unrelated about their experience that really doesn’t help you decide whether or not you want to go to a particular place,” Graham says.

2 Responses to “Next Stop For Google Alums: A Review Site”

  1. I have to agree with Brian. If I want to go to a new destination I want informative, real and comprehensive information….the good and the bad! I can’t see a lot of use for a limited review except to tickle the tastebuds for a certain destination. There certainly needs to be links to proper information. I go to a site where I can read a range of reviews before booking, so keeping it positive is not helpful unless it is true either and could lead to some very disgruntled travellers.

    I remember feeling I had a lucky escape as I nearly booked a hotel in San Francisco…untilI searched for reviews where I found them all negative with well founded reasons!

  2. While this is an interesting idea – really short reviews actually don't help me much. At HomeStars, where we have over 28,000 reviews on Home Improvement companies, we actually have a minimum number of words for a review because it's not really helpful to others reading the site when there's only a short clip of a review. I mean how helpful in finding a good plumber is something like "he did a good job – well done"? Let's get a little more.

    Even in the sphere of restaurants where the volume of reviews is much higher, am I going to trust a 160 character review? "Food was good, service was okay" Give me something more!