A couple of weeks ago, the non-profit behind Wikipedia, Wikimedia, launched Wikivoyage.org. The new site, which will mirror its counterpart as a hub of free, non-advertised, edited community content, will focus on travel information posted by travelers and already hosts over 50,000 pages of information on places, trip itineraries and various travel topics.
Wikimedia’s Executive Director, Sue Gardner, stated “There’s a huge global demand for travel information but very few sources are both comprehensive and non-commercial. That’s about to change.”
It’s official debut caused media speculation over whether the new site poses a threat to established guide book platforms, both off and online. Traditional travel book sales are already suffering, with sales diminished by 19 percent from 2011 and 27 percent the prior year.
According to a post by NBCNews.com, the VP of Publishing at Lonely Planet, doesn’t think the new site will pose a credible problem for the travel guide company. Brice Gosnell said, “It’s been 10 or 12 years since we’ve had this sort of competition and what we’ve found is that people still want branded, trusted content. With user-generated content, you don’t know who it is and you don’t know what their experience is.”
The same article points out that the traditional Wiki style – dry, objective and focused on facts – doesn’t lend itself to the inspiration phase of travel planning, while it might become a key resource for traveler’s doing research at later phases.
What do you think? What businesses, if any, are likely to experience direct competition from Wikivoyages? How might destinations and travel businesses utilize the new site as additional social media platform for marketing?