Lonely Planet takes ‘citizen journalist’ route

Lonely Planet has launched Trips, a photo-based self-publishing mobile app which will compete with Instagram by offering travellers a social media platform to share their journeys.

It will also generate free content for Lonely Planet.

Trips enables anyone to upload photos and videos directly from their phone’s photo library to write stories illustrating each trip. Similar to Instagram, users can ‘like’ other people’s trips and follow them, as well as save favourite stories and discover new trips by location or theme.

In addition, Lonely Planet’s team of writers and editors will jump in and curate top recommendations for people to view.

Lonely Planet says the app is about sharing content and feeling good when people give your post a ‘heart’. But let’s face it, it will also expand Lonely Planet’s online presence on the cheap, delivering the business free content.

More travellers are turning to search engines and forums to find information about destinations, making Lonely Planet travel books less relevant than they once were.

‘We’ve been around since 1973, and at that point a book was one of the few options in terms of getting out the depth of our information to travellers,’ said Lonely Planet CEO, Daniel Houghton. ‘But the business has a real history of jumping on to new platforms.’

ProCounter asked Lonely Planet if it saw Trips as a way to source free content.

‘Trips is a platform for travellers to share their experiences with one another – much like they do on social media – but connecting them with other like-minded travellers and surfacing the best quality (through featured collections) as chosen by Lonely Planet’s experts,’ Lonely Planet US office responded, via Adam Bennett, the Asia-Pacific media contact. ‘These traveller stories are not supplementing or replacing Lonely Planet’s core content offering from our expert writers out on the road. All user stories which are submitted to Trips remain the owners and Lonely Planet will contact users for permission if the user’s story is to be included in any promotion for the app. Users can also opt make their trips private if they want to – so users don’t have to expressly give Lonely Planet their content.’

Bennett said that all users own the content they post to Trips. However Lonely Planet has the rights ‘to use and distribute the content you post. These include rights to use your content to make the app work, promote the app, promote Lonely Planet and the right to grant others the rights to use your work.’

Lonely Planet teamed up with Unsplash, a community of photographers who give away licenses to their photos, to sources photos when designing the app. Make what you will of that!

BBC tech writer, Dave Lee, notes that Trips requires users to take nice photos and craft a story, which is a bigger investment of time and effort than competing social networks like Instagram.

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