Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Needed: Netflix meets Yelp; Netflix meets TripAdvisor

This post based on a suggestion by my wife:

The reviews of restaurants on Yelp and of accommodations on TripAdvisor are a great start - they help us discover places we might not have found otherwise. And they are giving a boost to the locally owned business as opposed to the chains.

The extra value you are paying for at Panera or a Marriott, after all, is that you can trust the place to be pretty decent, just like the ones you've eaten at or stayed at before. But if you can get this level of trust in an independently owned establishment from Yelp or Tripadvisor, you don't need that brand quite as much.

But for this transformation to truly take hold, we need Yelp and TripAdvisor to mature to the point where we can see the reviews from people like us. We need a Netflix-style recommendation engine that takes into account our preferences as expressed in our past reviews.

If the person reviewing a local restaurant also gave Subway five stars, I don't trust that person, and I want their opinions filtered out.

When Yelp and Tripadvisor can take my past reviews into account, they will dramatically increase my willingness to contribute reviews, because then I'll be creating value for myself. The more places I review, and the more thoughtfully I review them, the better the site will work for me.

If Yelp and Tripadvisor don't do this, some site surely will.

Same goes for Amazon: I want to the book reviews of people whose preferences are similar to mine.

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