Innovation That Matters

Personalized travel books blend search & curation

Travel & Tourism

The internet has long offered online alternatives to the traditional printed travel guide, frequently with more current information and at least rudimentary customization capabilities. A new service from Technorati founder David Sifry, however, takes the concept a step further by tapping into the full wealth of information now available online with a professionally printed and ad-free personalized format that puts all the personally relevant parts in one place. Now in beta, Offbeat Guides creates personalized, up-to-date travel guides to more than 30,000 travel destinations using a combination of search technology and curation by both amateur and professional travel experts. Users begin by inputting their destination, their departure location, their name and their dates of travel. Offbeat Guides’ technology base of spiders and crawlers then goes out and finds the best information available on the internet–tapping such sites as Wikitravel, Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, AccuWeather, Google Maps and Eventful–and combines it with the most current information from a stable of established authors and thousands of locals. The preliminary result is a guide book of some 100 pages including local maps, festivals and events, exchange rates, key phrases in the city’s language, weather forecasts and more. Users can then customize that initial report, deleting unnecessary chapters, for instance, or adding information such as their itinerary or recommendations from friends. Once they’re satisfied, they can download their guide in PDF format for USD 9.95, or they can order a full-colour, 8.5-by-4.5-inch printed guide for USD 24.95. Based in San Francisco, Offbeat Guides joins a space populated by competitors with similar–yet different–business models, including TripIt (which we’ve previously featured), Miss Information, Virtual Tourist and Nile Project, which is in beta too. We also can’t help but think that sites like Blurb and Life Trackers could enable any travel-savvy minipreneur to produce similar bespoke guides of their own, tailored to each client’s personality and plans. Time to launch a little travel-guide expedition….? Spotted by: Ruben Sage



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