There are a lot of sites popping up these days trying to make travel recommendations better and more precise. Some, like Triposo, are making travel apps based on algorithms, while Trippy wants to give you social, “friendsourced” recommendations via Facebook, or rapidly growing sites like Gogobot, which provides a gamified, Yelp-like platform where you can leave reviews of destinations you visit and get recommendations from your friends.
These are all great options, but sites like Trippy, CouchSurfing, and more are off-Facebook platforms that connect to the social network through Facebook Login. A new travel site launching today, called Twigmore is cutting out the middle man and launching a travel network directly on Facebook. Twigmore Co-founder and CEO Stephen Smyth tells us that many feel that travel network is a natural extension of the Facebook platform but they don’t want to sign up through an off-site application to get their recommendations.
Smyth says that, with Twigmore, he wants to put people, not places, at the heart of a travel platform; while most travel websites focus on places, offering pictures of hotels, restaurants, etc., Smyth says that it’s not only friends and people we inherently trust that give us the best travel recommendations — the best insight and tips come from people who actually live at these destinations.
The problem is, however, that it’s hard for travelers to find trusted locals who can answer questions, show them around, or just help when things come up. Twigmore wants to tackle this obstacle by connecting travelers with locals through friends. That’s where the co-founder thinks they can gain a leg-up on other travel sites: By helping travelers find real people on the ground wherever they travel.
On Twigmore, when a user is planning a trip to Berlin, for example, they may discover that a friend knows someone who’s currently living in the city. If the traveler likes live music, with a couple of clicks through their Facebook profile, they can discover what kind of music the person likes, get introduced to the local contact for a scoop on concerts, and perhaps even go see a concert with the person when they get to Berlin — and make a friend in the process. What’s more, Twigmore users can get notified if other friends are going to be in the city at the same time.
Smyth says that the idea for Twigmore was inspired by the Facebook-focused professional networking approach of Branchout, which is basically like LinkedIn for Facebook. In the same way, Twigmore wants to become Lonely Planet for Facebook.
Twigmore also wants to offer its own recommendations for things to do when people arrive at their destination, a starter kit, if you will. They’ve just begun adding features there, and have started with Groupon Deals for some discounted activities for people to during their stay in 100+ U.S. destinations.
Smyth also said that he wants the product to be 100 percent personalized, and thus far users can only interact with friends or friends-of-friends in Twigmore — no strangers to be found. He also said that he sees an opportunity (a la Airbnb) for the platform to become a place where people can find homestays with trusted friends (and friends-of-friends) while they’re traveling so they can save money on hotels and lodging.
Twigmore was founded in October 2009 in New York City by media executives Stephen Smyth and Peter Baer, formerly of Thomson Reuters and Warner Brothers, respectively, and in just a few months of beta testing, Twigmore users have already built a database of over 1.7 million local contacts in over 38,000 cities around the world.
The startup has raised $275,000 to date from angel investors including Shaun Abrahamson (investor in Zocdoc, Trialpay), ex-Googler Ien Cheng, and Glenn Asano.
For more, check out the site on Facebook here. Let us know what you think.