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5 June 2008 / erikduval

Snowflake travel

When I talk about the snowflake effect, I often explain how we used to live in a world where hundreds of professionals and a big budget were needed to set up a radio station and how such a world requires economies of scale and mass audiences to make the investment worthwhile.

Nowadays, we can set up radio stations in software (, pandora, …) and we can have multiple such stations that together share an audience of … just one!

Offbeat guides brings the same concept to the world of travel guides. Michael Arrington explains the idea clearly:

Think Lonely Planet travel guides, except they are created on the fly from Internet data sources, customized to you personally and then delivered via PDF instantly or (a color printed version) by mail within 4 business days. Data comes from open sources like wikipedia, wikitravel, Flickr and Google Maps, as well as proprietary sources that have cut deals with the company. […]

Users can add or remove sections that appeal to them (museums, for example, or walking tours), and the guides include things like up to date weather forecasts, events that are going on during your visit, current exchange rates, etc. If you tell it where you are staying, the guide will include walking maps based on that location.

David Sifry mentions future plans for more snowflaking:

you’ll be able to tell us a bit more about yourself and have the guide tailored for you: If you’re travelling with kids, for example, or if you want WiFi maps, or food preferences.

Probably like many of you, I’m thinking more about upcoming family travel (yes, please do send me your recommendations for places to go to and things to do in California with the kids!). I definitely would like to have a Snowflaked Travel Guide!

Know of other Snowflake examples? Please leave a comment or send me a message!


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