In a broad trend, travel players like Gogobot are moving aggressively into the "local" space in order to capture the attention of the mobile traveler.
This trend partly explains why Priceline bought OpenTable, and why TripAdvisor bought La Fourchette. Users book restaurants much more frequently than they book travel.
It's also partly why Foursquare relaunched itself as a Yelp-esque local discovery app. Local events are more relevant and front-of-mind than occasional out-of-town trips.
Unlike the web, where you can rely on search for traffic, on mobile you need to build a regular engagement and usage patterns.
The average user has downloaded 86 apps and only uses 26. Apps that are used once or twice a year (think: travel) are usually relegated to screen 3 or 4 and are often forgotten. About 29% of apps are downloaded and only used once, according to research cited by same-day booking app HotelTonight's Heather Leisman.
Everyone in travel is wrestling with this issue, from Expedia and Booking.com, on down.
Today Gogobot, a site that claims strong user growth in the past year-and-a-half, added a mini-social calendar that suggests it is attempting to change the curve on this by thinking holistically about not just the booking, but how to own the whole trip, from the research to the booking to actually figuring out what to do while you are there.
In recent years, Gogobot has been a platform for finding favorite picks from like-minded people. Users select overlapping like-minded interests, such as "nightlife" or "foodie", and then they get recommendations for things to do and see at a destination. Adding one's Facebook connections can add even more personalization.
The new feature on its apps for Apple and Android devices is that you can sign up for push alerts for a handful of events each week at major destinations, starting this month with San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, London, San Diego, and Silicon Valley.
Most of the alerts, as optional push notifications or as "tiles" when opening a city page on the app, will be about ephemeral events, such as a food truck competition on New York City's Governor's Island.
But some alerts could also recommend a something that happens on a recurring basis but you might not know about, such as a monthly nighttime hike in the redwood forests at a national park.
Gogobot will limit the number of alerts to a handful each week. Says CEO Travis Katz in an interview:
"We all face a real problem of the explosion of information online. If you type "what should you do this weekend?" on Google, you won't get a good result. We're offering something manageable and inspiring.
With this launch, Gogobot provides another reason why its users should be coming back every week. We aim to become more a part of the fabric of our users' lives. Users are then more likely to be in the habit of using us, and will be even more likely to make our app the starting point for their periodic trips.
Our picks are personalized based on your interest-based "tribes", which is not something others are doing."
The move is "dull" because it's not new. Curating local events is an old trick, at this point.
The functionality puts Gogobot into competition with event-based apps like like YPlan and TimeOut. These apps have been successful among locals, and argue that's true because of their comprehensiveness. But Gogobot seems to be betting that their effort to be comprehensive results in overwhelming users. It's opting for "curation" of tips in a world where we all think we are time-starved.
Gogobot claims to be the first company in travel to be showcasing real time, location-based event recommendations. In other words, this functionality is not yet found on TripAdvisor, Yelp,Foursquare/Swarm, or AirBnB.
Katz says that in the future it may work with external content providers if it can make sure that any re-purposed structured content stays on-brand with Gogobot's users. He would also considering adding tours-and-activities recommendations in the future.
The relevant (i.e., local) and serendipitous and selective aspects of the functionality may represent the missing consumer engagement tool that Facebook and Google Now -- two popular mobile apps -- may believe they need to improve their usage and engagement metrics.
Of course, TripAdvisor also wants to own the entire travel cycle, from inspiration through booking and then with on-the-ground activities. TripAdvisor also has a history of using curated editorial content, not just broad-brush, more-is-more, user-generated content -- to appeal to travelers.
Gogobot, a travel reviews site, claims five straight quarters of monetization growth at a pace of about 50% per quarter. It says that its app redesign, which it introduced three months ago, has tripled the number of user sessions.
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