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Monday, February 23, 2009

Travel by Twitter: travel revolution or evolution? Case Study #2 A Paris Twi-Trip

You head out to dinner at the last minute, without a reservation, only to find that your favorite eatery that always has tables free is full. What to do? You're bored with the same-old and you didn't bring your favourite restaurant guide, so you decide to send a tweep on Twitter instead. Maybe someone knows of a fab new place to eat in your 'hood? And they do! And you quickly get a dozen other tweeps with tips... So, you can see yourself using Twitter for restaurant, hotel and bar recommendations, and no doubt other travel tips, but can you envisage planning a whole trip using Twitter? The Twitchhiker is, and in less than a week he leaves to travel the world for a month based on the kindness of Twitterers. However, The Guardian's Benji Lanyado has already conducted a variation of that experiment... Inspired by British actor etc Stephen Fry, who uses Twitter to get local suggestions when he travels, and compelled to test it out in Berlin after a flight delay, Benji set off for Paris recently on a 'Twi-trip'. He didn't plan anything in advance, arrived, then asked his Twitter-followers "I'm at the Gare du Nord, what should I do?" Have a read of Benji's Live Twi-Trip to Paris and his Verdict. Essentially, within 20 minutes Benji had received 17 suggestions, and 32 hours and 13 requests later, he'd had 253 suggestions! Apart from a few places being closed and others being miles away, Benji was pretty pleased with the tips he got. A few places he loved, such as Ateliers d'Artistes, Chartier, and Hotel Eldorado's bar, which he thought he might not have found on his own - although they have appeared in guidebooks and in the travel press. But, as Benji admitted, while he might have found lots of great stuff in a guide, he wouldn't have had as much fun. He writes: "The biggest overall impression? I've never felt so accompanied while travelling alone." The aim of Benji's experiment was to find out how Twitter can be used for travel. One thing it certainly demonstrated is, as Benji writes: "If you are at a loose end, or are looking to do something spontaneously, there are plenty people willing to help you." I'm very curious to see whether this sort of use of Twitter is just one more shift in the gradual evolution of travel, or whether it's going to represent a major revolution in the same way the Internet changed how we plan our trips and indeed how we travel.

Pictured? A bar in a very famous city. It's as popular with locals as it is with tourists - and with good reason. Do you know where it is? I bet someone out there does...

1 comment:

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