Travel social networks taking off

The financial meltdown accelerated an already renewed emphasis on traditional values, altruism and humanity. Now, more than ever, we desire to connect with family, friends and those with common interests. The phenomenal success of social networking site Facebook exemplifies the trend.

Connecting travelers has been an ongoing theme over the past two years or so, as social media and private online communities have been bringing together like-minded travelers before, during and after their travels. SeaDream Yacht Club, Hyatt and American Express all use online communities to connect members, guests and passengers in advance of their travels and share “insider” experiences.

Also helping fellow flyers hook up was KLM’s first effort, focused on frequent flyers in China and Africa. But now Air France/KLM have launched a larger network called Bluenity that allows members to meet other people traveling on Air France or KLM online, at the airport, aboard the plane or at their destination. Members can use the site to offer tips, make comments on a variety of travel topics, or search for fellow passengers on a particular trip and arrange to meet them, exchange destination information or share a taxi on arrival.

Despite their claim that it is the first social network for travelers launched by an airline, Bluenity, which is similar to British Airways’ MetroTwin and GenFlyLounge already connecting Lufthansa guests. And with more general sites like Dopplr already connecting passengers across airlines, it’s not clear whether a single-airline network will “fly,” so to speak. Watch this space….

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