Travelhiker.com adds user incentive and looks for investment

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Travelhiker.com, a social networking site based around travel, has launched a revenue-sharing feature for its members who write full-blown travel guides.

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The way it works its this: An existing member can write a long review of a travel destination e.g. a gourmet’s guide to Paris or a backpacker’s guide to Sydney. They post recommendations about what to do, where to stay or where to eat for example, as well as uploading important upcoming events at that location and links to useful websites. By signing up to write a Guide, they are able to upload to the site their Google Adsense account number and earn 50% of the ad-revenues generated from the traffic to the review. Payments to contributing city guide members will come directly from Google. By rotatiing its own Google Adsense code, Travelhiker recovers the other 50%.

One’s immediate impression of this model is that this is going to create a big stumbling block for the average reviewer, who probably won’t bother getting an AdSense account since they won’t see themselves as publishers.

In theory there is no limit to the amount of Guides that can be assigned to a particular location, which is good for the user wanting information, but not so good for the writers wearily thrashing out their city reviews in exchange for a AdSense pennies.

Launched two months ago, the site is owned and run by recent Oxford University graduate James Holmes (email james [AT] travelhiker.com) who contracted Magnitude.co.uk to build the site in a no-equity commission.

Members of the site can already write a travel blog, air opinions, share reviews, upload travel photos and potentially find travel companions. Trip Sharing means you post about a trip you are intending to take and ask the community for advise on the trip. Google maps are integrated with the travel guides and reviews.
So far Holmes has spent under £50,000 developing the site with friends and family funding and is now looking for more investment to take it to the next stage.

Talking to TCUK, Holmes said the site launched in August and has done minimal marketing to date. Although not strictly a “beta” site, he admitted it was still being developed.

Holmes is confident that the social networking effect and search engine optimisation will get them noticed. Their Alexa page views shows they have been bumping along the bottom in traffic terms, but that little uplift in the last month looks like they are on the right track at least.

Our opinion is that it’s early days for this site, but it is positioned in more or less the right direction. The execution of the site needs to be improved however, and it’s also easy to see how a larger and better executed competitor like TrustedPlaces.com could simply draw the ‘travel’ aspect of this site’s strategy into its own operation.

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