Saturday, 3 October 2009

Here, there … Tweets and Twitter Everywhere

What are you doing?” is the only question Twitter asks you when you log on. The answer to that question is limited to 140 characters, and to be honest I have always disliked restrictions in general and for text messages in particular as it can happen that I have a lot to say.

It might sound a bit strange, when Twitter states on their own website that “the answers to this question are for the most part rhetorical”, because users actually do not expect a response. So, whereas on Facebook you expect that your friends comment on or at least like your status updates, on Twitter it is mostly about following the tweets of opinion-leaders or other POIs (i.e. people of interests). In other words: I tweet - you read!

Whatever you might think about this micro-blogging service, it does make a lot of noise in the Internet world and also gets more and more attention in the tourism industry.

A Twitter-based hotel booking engine was launched only a couple of days ago. Inoqo (www.inoqo.com) describes itself a last-moment social media hotel booking engine which only publishes hotel packages available within the next 48 hours. Twitter users can follow the stream for a certain city and receive real-time hotel offers (see illustration below, click on graphic to enlarge).


The service is free for the travelers. Inoqo’s business model is to charge hotels with a commission fee for each booking. Inoqo claims to react with their service to the recession hit hospitality industry and offers an added value to business travelers in particular who often need to book a hotel room on a very short notice.

Further, Twitter has recently added geo-location features which allow location-based services, certainly an added value for travelers on the move.

Twitter is a typical example of social web start-ups. Founded in 2006, Twitter has no profitable business model but was able to raise more than 100 million US$ of funding and apparently the company value is up to 1 billion US$. Twitter with its 60 odd employees attracts now 54 million visitors per month, according to an article published in the New York Times.

Well, let’s only hope we will not drown in the information flow. But Twitter assures that users are very much in control of whose updates they receive, when they receive them, and on what device. For instance, you can schedule Twitter to automatically turn off at dinnertime.
And isn’t that great to have control over not being distracted from eating?

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