You see them all the time on Facebook and Twitter. The infamous travel check-in…
“San Francisco, I am in you”
“Oh hey, Beijing”
“What’s up Barcelona”
“Tom is at LAX via 4Square”
They are often accompanied with a photo.
Why do people do it? Two primary reasons.
- To broadcast to their network that they are now safe in a new city.
- To get recommendations for things to do, events, places to eat, or people to meet.
But you know what?
The vast majority of the time — I don’t care. I care about the first, that they arrived safely, but their arrival does not directly effect me 80+ percent of the time they check-in somewhere, so it’s mostly just noise to me. Their public check-in is only achieving half of it’s purpose and, in the mean time, that update is not enriching their travel experience in anyway by me having seen it.
You know the check-ins I want to see? People I know who happen to be nearby or close friends and family anywhere. And maybe friends checking-into a place I know extremely well (such as Seattle, Santorini, or Chiang Mai).
These are the people I can help, these are the friends I can connect with other friends in that new city, or share a quick tip of my favorite Seattle coffee shop. But instead I have to sift through the noise and, lets be honest if we’re talking about the travel community, spam. The sad fact is that I just don’t end up seeing the relevant check-ins because the signal to noise ratio, so I feel frustrated by the onslaught of information and that friend/traveler checking-in somewhere loses the chance to find an amazing new experience or a new friend by not asking the right people for help.
We know there are many other people not in your Twitter stream or Facebook graph, who would be willing to help you with some great information or an introduction — IF they knew about your location. Those people could be friends of friends in that specific city, someone who went to the same high school living in the town you just arrived in, people with extended knowledge of the city or country you are in, or a local who lives in that specific town. THOSE people should have an easy way to see your check-in and provide the trusted travel information you seek.
But the ability for the right people to see those check-ins doesn’t exist today. In fact, the lack of transparency surrounding the locations of other travelers was the very original frustration I encountered in 2010 that led me down the path of creating Oh Hey World. Twitter, FourSquare, and Facebook? None of these solve the problem.
I hope we agree.
You see, transparency is good. Bringing visibility to information, databases and conversations that used to be locked in dark silos is a common theme across successful web properties. The benefits of “one to many” compared to “one to one” are well documented so we won’t hash it out, just to say that we recognize it’s needed in the travel sphere.
There’s a basic premise behind Oh Hey World:
You never know who might care about where you are.
I first mentioned the quote in AGBeat’s piece on Oh Hey World, and it keeps popping up again and again in my mind as I run across different travel scenarios. With OHW now, we aim to ensure your location is made visible to the people who wish to know your whereabouts. A centralized system for tracking locations and future trip plans for everyone would improve the entire travel experience for millions … and most pointedly, you.
This type of platform has been tried by many, and many have failed. But the problem is still not solved, so we’ll keep trying. We know it can be done, and that it’s going to take years to execute on, and so we’re building the OHW community one step at a time. Asking the right types of travelers who share our values, those who value meeting the right people at the right time on their travels, to join the community.