Saturday, May 09, 2009

Travel Guides on Google Maps

Nextstop
Nextstop is a new online travel guide and social recommendation website that makes extensive use of Google Maps. The creators say it is "a collective effort to catalog the world's best experiences through concise and useful recommendations from locals, travelers and even passers-by."

There are already a number of well established social recommendation websites out there but the ease of use of nextstop should ensure it becomes a major player in the market. Adding recommendations to nextstop is truly an enjoyable experience, which can't be said of many social recommendation sites.

Adding Recommendations

When you enter the name of a place you are recommending nextstop uses the Google Maps API geolocation tool (and some other magic) to automatically find the location of your recommendation. It also uses Yahoo Boss and Google image search to recommend an appropriate photograph (see the screenshot below).



Nextstop uses Google Maps as one of the interfaces through which you can browse the recommended places. It is possible to refine the recommended places by 'where to eat', 'what to do' and 'where to stay' and by price.



Recommendation Ratings


Nextstop has also incorporated a user rating system, which should ensure that the quality of user recommendations remains high. You can see how many people have recommended a particular place and you can vote individual recommendations up or down.

When somebody votes up one of your recommendations your individual reputation score increases and when somebody votes one of your recommendations down your score goes down. There is a leaderboard of members and it is possible to follow members whose recommendations you like and trust.

Guides

Nextstop also has a feature that allows members to create their own 'guides' from recommended places that they they like. Guides can be a tour around a neighbourhood you love, or a collection of the best spots for a given activity (eg. scuba diving) around the world.

Each tour comes with its own Google Map. Therefore if you are planning to visit a city you can use nextstop to find interesting guides and print out the map before you go.


My number one recommendation today is to visit nextstop!

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