European social travel startup minube has officially launched the first English-language version of its iOS and web app in the US after building up a vibrant community of 500,000 travelers in Europe and Latin America.
Minube was designed to inspire travelers to discover new destinations, sights, restaurants, hotels and shops, both locally and abroad, by using the positive recommendations, videos, and 800,000 photos uploaded by their community.
Some unique features from minube include the “Inspiration” screen, which suggests members new destinations based on things like color, continent, distance from home, and type of trip. The “Saved” feature allows friends to collaborate on customized travel guides and download them for offline use on a smartphone device or iPad. An in-app store features user-made mini-guides made by passionate locals who know their area best.
After reviewing the press kit, we still weren’t entirely sure how minube works, how it coordinates with other social networks, and how it stands up to its biggest competitors. We spoke with Chris Pearrow of minube for greater clarity on these issues.
SOCIAL NEWS DAILY: How exactly does minube work, or what is it comparable to?
CHRIS PEARROW: Well, minube is a website that tries to cover the whole spectrum of the travel experience: inspiration – planning – booking – traveling – sharing. As far as “Inspiration” goes, we differentiate ourselves from some of the other travel sites by focusing on recommendations, not reviews. If you didn’t like a city or had a bad experience in a restaurant, we’re really not that interested. What travelers want to know is where to go and what to do to have an amazing, memorable experience.
Our “Inspiration” screen helps with this process by letting you find original destinations. Let’s say, for example, I’m planning a honeymoon with my fiance. I can go to the “Inspiration” screen and select the “fall in love again” category and get great recommendations about destinations that our users have deemed romantic, many of which I would have never heard of or considered. As far as planning goes, you can use the “Recommendations” on minube to find interesting places to visit as well as restaurants and hotels. These places can be saved into a “plan,” which is essentially a personalized travel guide composed of only your favorite places. These personalized guides can be compiled and edited socially with your friends, are available 100% offline to save on roaming charges.
Flight/hotel booking is currently available on our international sites and we’ll be introducing it to our English language sites soon. During your trip, you can upload your own recommendations and experiences in real time. If you’re having an awesome meal, you just snap a few pictures, write a short blurb if you like, and then it’s uploaded instantly to minube or to Twitter and Facebook. Your positive experiences can then serve as inspiration for other travelers. So, in this sense, you could say we view the travel process as cyclical rather than linear.
SND: How do you keep it vibrantly social? What I mean is this: It seems that people who are not world travelers will use it on and off, so how do you keep them coming back even when they’re not traveling?
CHRIS: Good question. It depends on your definition of a trip. The traditional idea of a trip is an airplane and hotel, but they can also be local. If I’m stumped for plans about what to do this weekend or even this afternoon, you can use minube to discover new places, shops, and restaurants in your own city. You can use the inspiration screen’s distance feature to find the best things to do within 5 or 10 miles of where you are, or search for ideas for weekend day-trips. We obviously can’t be traveling all the time, but that doesn’t mean we’re not doing interesting things at home, and minube is a good tool to share the things you discover locally.
SND: Do you coordinate/link to other social networks? (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
CHRIS: Absolutely. You can sync your account with your Facebook and Twitter account which gives you a lot of possibilities. First of all, you can use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to search for friends on minube of invite them to join. You can also post your own experiences as well as your favorite places from minube on your social networks.
SND: Who are your biggest competitors, and what, in your opinion, do you offer that they do not?
CHRIS: As far as our competitors are concerned, we would say that TripAdvisor is our biggest in the realm of travel planning, Foursquare in mobile, and Gogobot in terms of social. What makes us different? Well, for one, we’re an international site with pages throughout Europe and Latin America, so, for example, if you’re going to spend a week traveling through Italy, you can be assured that most of the content you’ll find on minube comes from Italians (translated into English using our Drunken Translator service), rather than from other tourists. Secondly, we put a premium on inspiration (the difference between a recommendation and a review). Finally, we feel that we’re the only site that covers the inspiration – planning – booking – traveling – sharing spectrum, mobile and in real-time.
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minube: from travelers to travelers from minube on Vimeo.