Crowdsourcing city guides

getting-directionsYou might think that the crowd and travel guides are quite old bedfellows.  After all, sites like TripAdvisor have been harvesting the opinions of travelers for years now about the places they’ve been and the hotels they stayed in.  Of course, the nature of these sites tends to limit the insight you can gain from a particular person to the one hotel or restaurant or wherever.  Whilst very useful therefore, they do have their limitations.

That isn’t to say that attempts haven’t been made to provide a more rounded guide to a particular location.  Sites such as This Great Little Place have attempted to employ the crowd to provide an extensive picture of the numerous great places you can visit in a place.  The Great Little Place in London site for instance was a regular source of information on finding relatively hidden gems here.

It could also be argued that an early selling point of sites such as Airbnb was that they gave you access to such local knowledge.  By staying with a local host, you would potentially gain insights from them on the places to go, the cuisine to try and all of the various other crucial tips that locals know much more than tourists.

Scouted is a new app that attempts to do a similar thing.  It offers a range of city guides that are based upon the recommendations of local people.  They can recommend the kind of cafes and restaurants to go to based upon their personal and every day experiences.

The service allows anyone to start creating a guide for their own city, with some curated highlights from the crowd based recommendations included on the homepage of the site.  Alongside each guide is a bit of information about each curator, such as their social media profiles and a personal bio (with picture), so that you can easily gain an understanding of the kind of person making the recommendations.

The aim of the site is to create an easy to use service where you can find recommendations from people that are broadly like you in terms of their interests and outlook on life.  At the moment, the site covers several US cities and a small handful of international ones, and as the site is relatively new the number of guides for each city is relatively small.

The London guides for instance had a distinctly creative bent to them, being written primarily by art/creative directors, and from my initial search, there was not a single recommendation of anything at all from south London, which seems rather a shame.  Hopefully in time however the site will grow and provide a more rounded view of some of the less trodden places.


5 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing city guides

  1. Interesting concept, although it does appear to be a bit of an echo chamber at the moment. I suppose the key is to get a wide cross section of participants.

  2. Indeed, TripAdvisor and AirBnB are at the forefront of local, crowdsourced city guides but there are a variety of start-ups that cater to this niche. You mention That Great Little Place, and I also know of Staying Native with its tagline "do it like a local". All initiatives that cater to the trend of traveling more authentically, off-the-beaten path, and experience a place like locals do.
    Not sure to what extent these models are scalable, as Google is also in this sphere with Google Local, not to mention Foursquare (and its revamped approach), Yelp and others. But I certainly think crowdsourced city guides make a lot of sense, rather than relying on outdated, printed guidebooks…
    Cheers Adi,

    • I suppose the lure of this kind of service is that you get to understand a bit more about the people making the recommendations. It almost flips things on its head. With TripAdvisor et al you find a place and then see what people think about it. With this, you find a person that is similar to you, and then find places they enjoy going to.

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