Online Travel Agent Cleartrip.com has re-introduced its travel guide Small World as a comprehensive mash-up, with partnerships with Yahoo, Flickr and Lonely Planet for content. Small World had first been launched by Cleartrip in 2006, in partnership with Loney Planet guide.
What Small World does very well: it gives you instant access to comprehensive information, on over 3.2 million unique places, according to Cleartrip. I was in Patna over the weekend, and a search for Patna reveals the following: The temperature (tepid, at 42 degrees), currency conversion, minimum Airfare from Delhi to Patna for the next 5 weeks, average room rate in a 3 star hotel in the city, Photographs from Lonely Planet and Flickr, Hotels rates and user rating, and interesting places to visit.
This new version was first demo’ed at TEDxMumbai* in April:
While Small World has adequate information, probably more than many sites, I do feel that it could do more as a mash-up.
1. Wikipedia Integration: When travelling, I tend to look at Google Maps for the place on my mobile, with the Wikipedia layer integrated. In terms of places of interest, I noticed that neither there were locations which were included in Small World and not in Wikipedia, and vice versa. Cleartrip could combine the two, and get the best of both Lonely Planet and Wikipedia; some of us are history buffs, and like to get a historical context to the places we visit. Cleartrip is using Google Maps on the site anyway.
2. Event Integration: Perhaps in collaboration with one of the many event listing sites, Cleartrip could also offer users details of interesting events in a city that they’re planning to visit; events do impact some travel plans. For example, last year, when in Koh Samui, I missed the Full Moon party by one day; had I known about it earlier, I’d probably have altered my plans accordingly. The tough part, though, would be trying to find the one event listing partner with accurate information for the entire globe, and then curating the events based on the audience
3. User Generated Lists: One other way for Cleartrip to collect rich city-specific information would be to allow its users to mark out places they intend to visit on the map and print their schedule. Particularly in case of International travel, a map would help Cleartrip users estimate time of travel, and plan their trip accordingly. One could also allow them to share with others, a list of their favorite places in a city, and why they would recommend visiting those places, and share the information with either their friends or others. For example, Lonely Planet doesn’t mention the breathtaking Satiburi Samui golf course (the photos don’t do it justice) overlooking the beach at Koh Samui.
(update) 4. News Integration: The other context that one looks at while visiting a city is the latest news associated with it, particularly when travelling internationally. For example, you would probably like to avoid a place if there’s a recent instance of conflict. The best case scenario for news – it gives you something to talk about with the locals. That said, news can also be misleading – for example, the attack on north Indians in Mumbai last year were limited to a few locations, but reading the news reports, you’d imagine that it was all through the city. Nevertheless, news related context is important.
It’s worth pointing out that Flickr is not at liberty to share with Cleartrip all the photographs uploaded by its users, and the use of content by Cleartrip is for commercial purposes. Saad Akhtar raised the issue of Cleartrip using a Creative Commons – non commercial licensed content in Small World earlier today.
To their credit, Cleartrip immediately accepted their mistake, apologised and has since taken the content down. Interestingly, they also pointed out that they intended to only integrate the following types of content, which are allowed can be used under specific conditions:
1. No Copyright Restriction
2. Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic
3. Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic, and
4. Attribution 2.0 Generic
* Disclosure: My attendance at TEDxMumbai (including trip to and stay in Mumbai) in April was sponsored by Cleartrip
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