Friday, February 11, 2011

Expedia's TripAdvisor has purchased EveryTrail

Is the latest corporate merger good for trail lovers?

Last week, TripAdvisor acquired EveryTrail, the distributor of online trail guides. If you don't recognize the name TripAdvisor, you may have heard of their parent company, Expedia, the internet travel giant.

This could be good news or bad news, depending on the final outcome of the merger. It would be good news if Expedia used its online muscle and presence to further promote trails as a viable and preferred travel activity. This would expose even more people to the joys, health benefits, and environmental benefits of trail travel. More people would realize that they can use a particularly awesome trail as a major deciding factor for choosing a vacation destination. At the very least, destination trails could become one of the talking points when discussing vacation spots.

It could be bad news for trail users if Expedia changes the Everytrail experience too much. For example the current model for Everytrail is to offer both trips and guides. Trips are free and offer some basic information about trails worldwide. Guides are much more extensive and usually cost about $1.99 per trail. Bundles, or groups of trails bound by a single theme, cost more than guides, but are usually less expensive on a per trail basis. In other words, if you buy the Southern Trails bundle, it includes

Everytrail Guides can be downloaded onto a smartphone such as an iPhone or a Droid. Users can then access trail information including a map, photos, points-of-interest, and a written description of the trail directly from their phone, before they leave for the trail (for trip planning purposes) or while they're on the trail. Most of the guides show how to get to the trailheads, give visual directions for following the trail (map), include links to other useful websites, and have information about lodging, camping, food, equipment/bike rentals, and other important details.

Time will tell whether this business acquisition will be good for trail users and guide publishers. The current business model is one of those rare win-win situations where those of us who publish guides on Everytrail have the opportunity to make a (very) small income by publishing guides while trail users have the convenience of an informative guide located right on their smart phone. They no longer have to pay the big bucks for a bulky guidebook that includes way more trails than they'll ever explore. Everytrail guides allows users to purchase guides for just the trails they will actually visit.

If you're not familiar with Everytrail, click on one of the links above and give them a try. Remember all their trips are free and even some of the guides are now free. Let me know if you agree that, given the current Everytrail model, downloadable trail guides are the wave of the future.


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