Inbed.Me: Meeting People On Your Travels Before You Even Arrive
They say that travel is more about the people you meet than the places you see. That philosophy is alive and well at Inbed.me, a new website that helps users find and interact with fellow travelers – before they even board a plane.
Inbed.me, which was created in June 2011 during Startup Weekend in New York City, is a new extension of social media to the world of hostel travel. Unlike CouchSurfer.com, inbed.me is less about finding a cheap place to stay than it is about pairing travelers with other site users who are going to the same destination. It’s intended to make users’ vacations more social and ensure that, before they even take off, people already have a set of friends they can explore with and get to know. The site has already received positive press and won second place out of 20 startups during Startup Weekend.
“We believe that online travel planning should take advantage of the beauty of the social web,” Diego Saez-Gil, CEO of InBed.me, toldMashable. “By connecting with other travelers with similar interests going to the same destinations, travelers will be able to get tips and plan activities together.”
Inbed.me is novel and interactive but it’s clearly not for everyone. The site is primarily for hostel and inn travelers (aka college kids and aging hippies), which suggests it appeals to a niche clientele of visitors who are already looking for a cheap and social travel experience. Travelers to hotels, people already part of large groups, and families are not part of the sites’ target market. So, if you are travelling to New York and staying at the Four Seasons, inbed.me ain’t for you.
But for those travelers who are looking for a uniquely social experience in budget accommodations, it offers a new way to check both the safety and sociability of a potential hostel. Is it the kind of place where you want to stay? Are the other visitors there interested in interacting with you on their vacation? Before now, there was absolutely no way to answer those sorts of questions, which was what made travel the adventurous crapshoot it has always been. Inbed.me offers the potential to answer those questions and completely change travel experience of its users.
YoBucko: Practical (Financial) Magic
You’re 24-years-old and a recent college graduate – now you can breathe easy! Wrong. You may be done with that god-awful class, your lab partner with B.O., and living in a broom closet with four other people, but now you get to pay off those student loans. And did I mention? You know nothing about finance or money, except, of course, how to spend it.
Not to worry, though, because that’s what Eric Bell expected, which is why he founded YoBucko, a free, online personal finance guide targeted at 20-something-year-olds who are just starting out. The platform consists of two primary features: a social support network and an online marketplace.
The website is so simple that at first glance it seems like the only thing they offer is articles related to a variety of topics: loans, education, taxes, jobs, credit, and budgeting, among other issues. But you can find all that on your own with Google. Continue clicking around, though, and you can find a veritable minefield of information. Across the top of the site are multiple tabs such as “Learn: where you can find the articles by topic, “Ask YoBucko”, which includes FAQ’s and the option to ask specific questions of your own, the option to sign up for their newsletter and even “Tools”, which offers users topic specific worksheets and financial calculators. One particular strength is the “Shop” option (no, sadly, it’s not t-shirts with the pig on them). The shop function brings to financial services and products what websites like BizRate and NexTag offer for other products, allowing you to compare prices on credit cards, student loans, different types of insurance, software and more.
The marketplace compiles product reviews from thousands of users and experts, then generates a percentage score that enables users of the website to quickly locate only the top three solutions in each product category. That, essentially, is why YoBucko seems to be better than just uselessly fishing for solutions on Google, since it does the sifting for you. Also available are multiple support groups and forums where you can connect with financial experts and others just like you.
There are some other websites, like FeeFighters, that appear to be competition for YoBucko. But FeeFighters only helps users compare prices and fees for various credit cards. YoBucko, conversely, integrates information services like articles and videos, interactive forums and practical real-world help across a range of topics, which you need to in order achieve your financial goals. Maybe now you can finally move on from your Ramen-noodles-every-night diet and be a real grown-up.
Pinterest: The Visual Way To Share
Social media’s pervasive touch gives individuals numerous ways to share information. Between Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter, users get constant updates on their contacts’ interests and activities. But social media lags in terms of promoting safe visual media sharing with people outside of your friend zone. Meet Pinterest: one of the hottest social media websites and the best way to share photos you have taken or found with everyone out there in the world.
Pinterest is genuinely new: it provides an easy-to-use, intuitive way to share images and it lets users share them with everyone. Previously, sharing visual media was much more difficult than sharing information or updates. Photos on Facebook or Twitter often look small and too many of them will make your whole profile appear crowded and messy. More important, other social media is geared at letting you share your social media with your friends for personal reasons. Pinterest is different: it is about sharing images that interest you with strangers who may share your taste. It’s a new form of social media sharing, one that is safe, artistic, visual, and impersonal, which explains its instant appeal to a large demographic of web users.
The site appeals to a very large set of users but it has targeted a narrower demographic than most existing social media: 97-percent of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are women. But, considering it appeals to a wide demographic range of women, that is not much of a limitation and the site has taken off since its inception. It has already reached the 10 million unique visitors per month mark and continues to grow exponentially.
Pinterest will survive because it offers a totally different model for social media engagement. It’s not “look at me,” it’s “look at this,” which appeals to web users who want an outlet to share visual ideas that may not be directly connected to their own lives. In its own way, Pinterest is a reaction against the constant personal crowing of social media, a rebellion against the non-stop endless influx of personal information about the individuals in our lives. Because it is very simple to use – users simply join the community, upload content, and share it – and it lacks the overused ‘personal touch’ of Facebook and Twitter, it is unique and should have staying power in the social media world.