Travel Guides 2.0
What's the worst part of most printed travel guides? Lugging them around. Plus, although they're written by travel experts, I generally find that I really only need portions of the book, not the whole thing. After all, how many hotels can one person stay at during a one-week trip?!
What's really needed here is more flexibility and customization. I'd like to pick the contents from a list of options and create my own custom guide. That's possible now thanks to Professional TravelGuide's new service, eGuidebook. You'll find information on more than 7,000 destinations and it's easy to pick and choose the content you want in your custom eGuidebook. Build it by yourself or in collaboration with other friends or family members. Once you're happy with the contents, turn your eGuidebook into a print product with the Pocket Guidebook service (click here for a demo). Pocket Guidebooks are produced via print-on-demand with prices starting at $18.95 (including shipping in the U.S.)
I tend to think cellphones and other portable devices will eventually become the key travel content delivery platform, but between now and then, we can use services like eGuidebook and Pocket Guidebook to add more of a personal, fun touch to a family vacation or other getaway.
However, I think travel guidebooks serve two functions, only one of which is guidance during the actual trip. They are also used to provide insight and ideas as one is planning the trip, and by offering a variety of hotels (often with a map showing proximity to key sights/restaurants, etc.) that helps with organizing the trip long before one arrives and provides context. I suppose there is a third function which is simply armchair travel: I think that is why I have an Austin travel guide on my shelf although my only trip to Austin was 24 hours spent completely in an office building and sadly allowing no time to explore what I am sure is a delightful city.
I do not disagree that carrying a bulky travel guide around on vacation is a pain. However, just as one is told not to look too much like a tourist by consulting maps and guides obviously, I wonder if noticeably consulting my BlackBerry might make me alluring to thieves. Also, I find it is sometimes hard to read the screen outdoors.
Posted by: Constance | April 21, 2008 at 12:37 AM
I tend to agree with Joe. The question is if we need travel guides in 2008, when we have fellow travelers on-line that are more up to date than a book who was edited 2 years ago. In the case of backpacker places, not once I have found myself following the recommendation of "Lonely Planet" just to find out that the place has lost its reputation longtime ago. With TripAdvisor, WAYN and http://www.triptouch.com , one can find very easily up to date recommendations, travel mates and all the travel info one's need to get oriented while traveling. The eGuidebbok sounds like a nice solution too.
Travel guides need to adjust to the new era, minimize their books size and be more up to date if they want to survive the travel 2.0 era.
Posted by: Dan Harris | April 21, 2008 at 08:42 AM
Hi Joe, Thank you for taking a look at the Pocket Guidebook and sharing your thoughts. I just want to add that SharedBook is the company that provides the technology to create your own travel guide, as well as for other custom and personalized book products. http://www.sharedbook.com
Posted by: Ann Manby | April 22, 2008 at 03:40 PM