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may 07 2012

Friends vs. Strangers: Who Gives Better Travel Advice?

There are two types of social networks out there—groups of people that you know from real life (Facebook, LinkedIn) and groups of like-minded folks that you've never met before in your life (TripAdvisor, IgoUgo).

The former operates on the assumption that you trust your nearest and dearest more than a group of strangers, the latter that the wisdom of the crowds is greater than the sum of its parts.

I don't know about you, but I certainly do place more trust in my friends—as you might expect, I tend to have a fair amount in common with my friends, and if they say a restaurant or a hotel is good, I'm likely to agree. That said, while I do have a pretty well-traveled, international set of friends, they haven't been everywhere I want to go, so I find myself relying on a combination of strangers and friends to plan my itinerary.

Of course, there is always the possibility that even as I'm planning my trip to Peru I might have forgotten that my friend Susan used to live in Lima. Not to fear, there are tools that make sure that I don't forget about Susan. Trippy is one of them—the app, which Sean O'Neill wrote about last week—analyzes all of your friends' posts, determines which ones might have the most relevant advice for your trip, and then posts a query directly on their wall asking for travel advice. It's not the only company to do this either—Uptake, among others, also uses an algorithm to identify friends who might know your destination and to ask them for advice.

Last year, Bing partnered with Facebook so that when you sign in and search for a city it shows you all of your friends who have lived in city (and what they like in that city).

As you can see, it's getting easier to find friends who could provide advice. My question is: which of these types of networks do you find more useful? Are you more likely to trust advice that comes from your friends? Or do you think that hundreds of people can't be wrong? Or do you use both networks? Vote in our poll or tell us below.


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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.


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