Social Networking needs to go to the next level

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...
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Web 2.0 has been a buzzword in the internet for a long time now. It has been bandied around for anything and everything. But, the question remains – how social is it? Have everyone adopted it to the extent they gain benefit out of it? Not enough, I would say.

Yes, there are Facebook Connects that most of the sites now use – connecting your FB profile to other sites. This is mostly used to take one’s profile information from FB and populate the same to the websites. But, is that social enough? NO.

How can one see the adoption of these technologies more than what is currently seen? Various ways.

For example, let us take the case of the hotel industry. I will suggest few changes that can be incorporated based on my personal (business) travel experience that I undertook recently.

I had to go to London for a short trip and for starters, I had to book a hotel for my stay – my travel agent took care of the air-tickets. I did a search on the travel sites for hotels that were budget but at the same time had emphasis on quality. I came across chains like Holiday Inn, Premier Inn and others. From these, I had to search for hotels that were close to my work-place (in this case, Canary Wharf). I had Google Maps open on another window where I searched for the postcodes given on the hotel sites. Probably one reason could have been my lack of knowledge about London – it took me a long time to find out suitable hotels that were comfortable for me on various parameters – proximity to office/tube station/eat-outs, quality of accommodation/service, etc.

If only this was helped by the website of the hotel, it could have improved my search and made me a repeat member of the hotel for my future travels also. How can this be done? There can be a page on FB created by the hotel chain, where I list my preferences about the travel – where I am supposed to travel? what food do I like? what are my choices in terms of theater/cinema/stage-shows? Using this information, the hotel can compare using the tags that describe the various attractions. This will give the end-user a personalized experience that he can refer to, when he is staying in the hotel. In fact, this can be accessed by the In-Room TV service that is available in most hotels.

Similarly, all information about nearby eat-outs can be shown on a map that will be very convenient to any traveler. Access to tube-stations or bus-stations from the hotel can be shown in a neat fashion that will help the users. City Attractions are usually shared with pamphlets at the reception. This can be also customized based on the preferences of the traveler on FB and corresponding ones that he/she is interested will be displayed.

Once the traveler has completed his stint, he can go back to the FB page and rank the service, hospitality, amenities provided, etc – this will provide very valuable insights to his preferences and then help the hotel in providing a better service when the same customer returns the next time. Imagine one’s delight if the hotel provides the same room that the traveler had liked during the previous visit.

Only by doing this amount of personalization to the user, one can say that the site has incorporated Social Networking features. Not by just having buttons on their site like “Like”, “Share”, “Tweet”, etc. What I have explained here is just a simple example – one can build on this and create more customizations that provide customer delight. Again, this can be rolled across various websites in different functions, not just travel sites.

What has been your travel experience ? Do you think there are sites that actually imbibe the Social aspects? If so, what are they?

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3 Responses to “Social Networking needs to go to the next level”

  1. Prateek Khare Says:

    No travel experiences yet. But I participated in the Software Czar at IIMB where we debated about Advertising/Behavioral Tracking/Viral Concepts and hence Web 2.0.

    So…If you were logged into your google account while surfing google maps or even doing a google search AND the web browsing history is enabled for that google account then congratulations, your preferences are already being traced and you are served overlay advertisements inside your gmail (right hand nav bar). Also the overlays on youtube video are served according to your preferences.

    Google Adsense has accumulated a lot of data and is the new GOD. It is dangerously close to knowing everything about you, already !

    The various games/apps at facebook warn you “..access you data…” and then store this data, including the communities/likes, etc. Then when you are on that app screen or playing that game inside facebook, you are served advertisements accordingly.

    Apart from this, Web 2.0 has made browsers smarter then ever – they are geo-location aware and it suggests you local business automatically !

  2. Prateek Khare Says:

    I do agree…there is lot more that is expected as we are reaching Web 3.0 capabilities. We are not there yet !

  3. Lee Cash Says:

    whoa… http://WealthBoost.org

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