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Google Destination Guides: Not Much There -- Yet

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A part of Google Co-op, "Destination Guides" was promoted as “Google City Guides” at Google Press Day today. And while everything about Co-op has been officially qualified as a “work in progress,” this is something of a disappointment –- as are many of the content areas and the general user-experience of Co-op.

Danny has a more complete write up of Co-op here. Co-op is an ambitious project, not unlike Base, to create verticals, add structured and user-generated content and make the search experience more personalized. If you want to create your own "vertical search engine," which is one of the aims of this project, it’s also somewhat confusing.

The concept is cool, the experience not – yet.

Google?s ?Destination Guides? aren?t really city guides, in my opinion, they?re travel-related information. Right now, there?s not much of a there there. They?re really quite weak compared to, for example, Citysearch, Yelp, AOL City Guides or many of the well-known travel sites.

I?m going to New York later this month so I plugged in "New York."

What you get are a number of standardized categories that allow for subsequent query refinements: i.e., ?Suggested Itineraries,? ?Sightseeing,? ?Dining Guides,? ?Lodging Guides,? ?Museums? among a number of others.

Here are the results for Lodging Guides. They aren?t very satisfying. I can?t compare prices on hotels or see recommended hotels; I still have to click on more links to get to hotel verticals, travel aggregators, etc. It?s not really all that helpful. Yahoo?s travel metasearch site FareChase or its community travel site Trip Planner produce much more useful results at this point, as do sites like Openlist or TripAdvisor.

Once more content partners become involved and more community content becomes available the Destination Guide experience should improve. That might equally be said of Co-op in its entirety.

As Google's Marissa Mayer said today, ?Innovation not perfection.?


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