Nuremberg, GERMANY — Since its launch in December 2010, TouristInfo 2.0, a free social network for travelers, vacation providers, hotels and B&Bs alike, has grown into an appealing, high-quality source of tourist information with contributions from over 20 countries.
“The way the site has taken off shows that, in spite of the literally thousands of sites, including Facebook and MySpace, that offer free online sharing capabilities, our approach is highly competitive,” says Dr. Eckard Ritter, the network’s founder. “Early results are worthy of the ’2.0? name: in 2 months the site has covered 20 countries, counts 200 members and boasts 2,000 photos, not to mention an Alexa ranking around 200. The eagerness of so many early adopters to upload quality content at such an early stage proves both the credibility of our concept and its ease of use.”
TouristInfo 2.0 members can upload and share photos; create albums and embed them on their home pages; add events and send invitations; build rich profiles; and pull in content from other sites. Regardless of the content they create, members can use their own status update notifications for sharing it – within the network and also with their Facebook friends and Twitter followers. All pages, profiles, photos, albums, posts and events can be liked on Facebook. Moreover, members can post to the TouristInfo 2.0 blog, whose entries are automatically republished on TouristInfo 2.0?s Facebook page.
The touristinfo.ning.com site is part of a larger network of blogs (Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous), microblogs (Twitter, identi.ca, status.net) and other social media which help members get the word out in the world of Web 2.0.
From the flat, muddy coast of the North Sea to South Africa’s ocean beaches, from farm holidays to safari vacation tours, contributions in the form of photos, albums, member profiles, blog posts and videos range from hotel descriptions to reports filed by tourists and true locals. The rich array of content includes photos and paintings submitted by members registered as “artists” and reports on artwork and events discovered by enthusiastic travelers on their journeys, including souvenirs from a Slovenian wedding and landscapes from the Isle of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea.
The two countries with the greatest number of contributions are Germany and South Africa. Multiple photo albums, videos and in-depth tourism and regional information have been posted for both countries, while the most striking contributions are featured on dedicated editorial pages. More country pages will follow as content is added.
“At this early stage in the network’s development, the emphasis is on presentation rather than communication,” explains Dr. Ritter. “Members are using TouristInfo 2.0 to publish their media and test how the network contributes to their overall findability on the web. Over the coming months, and particularly during the summer vacation (in the northern hemisphere), we will begin to support sharing and communication via groups, blogging, forums and discussions to add even more value to our network.”
Membership in TouristInfo 2.0 is a rewarding experience for all Internet users who enjoy exploring travel, tourism, leisure, sports and recreation content, regardless of their online skills. The site is user-friendly and ideal for the non-technically inclined who still want to build great-looking content with no hassle.
For advanced users, the network also allows seamless integration with Internet applications such as e-mail (address book importing), Facebook (personal profile and pages), Flickr (importing photos for TouristInfo 2.0 albums), social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us (via RSS) and YouTube (video embedding). Moreover, members’ profiles can be customized and tweaked in multiple ways to replicate the look and feel of their home pages. Membership is free, but must be approved by site administrators.
Internet Partnership, based in Nuremberg, Germany, helps hotels and tourism organizations get found more easily on the web and reach a global audience. Dr. Eckard Ritter has more than 16 years experience as an entrepreneur, technology expert and inventor. He has developed several tourism sites for German and European destinations, booking systems and online site builders for mobile and desktop formats.