January 14, 2013

Wikipedia takes on travel with Wikivoyage

On Jan. 15, the Wikimedia Foundation is taking its travel wiki, Wikivoyage, out of beta. The wiki is meant to be read online, on a smartphone, or printed out to take with you on your travels. You can even create a book with pages from Wikivoyage to build your own physical travel guide.

Each Wikivoyage article includes key details you’d need to know when traveling somewhere. For a trip to Bali that means which airlines fly to the island, and a list of major cities. A Disney World article will tell you how much tickets will cost and a breakdown of the monorail’s appeal. The articles are actually quite useful because it’s one page of all the very basic information you need to navigate a new city, country, or theme park.

It’s a great notion, but Wikivoyage is coming late to the already crowded travel industry, and the non-profit has some well-funded and very smart competition to outmaneuver — everyone from Yelp, to TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, Hipmunk and others. No one wanted to get into the encyclopedia business when Wikipedia launched, but the travel industry is among the largest and most lucrative of any category online.

And then there is Google. When Google purchased travel guide publisher Frommer’s in 2012, the search engine company gained tons of extensive travel guides and began adding relevant travel information to search results when you typed in Disneyland or the Palace of Versailles. Android phones with Google Now also get travel- and attraction-related information that shows up when you’re trekking around London or searching for the Eiffel Tower. That’s ideal for the smartphone generation, who as Google wants us to believe, is apt to hop on a plane to New York City without an agenda and needs guidance once they land.

Get the full story at Wired.com

Read also "Will Wikivoyage shake up online travel?" at Econsultancy