FlipKey – applying web 2.0 principles to an underserved market

It was great catching up with TJ last night. TJ and I worked closely together on Compete.com from inception to launch. He also taught me a lot when I was at Compete, and I thank him every day for those seemingly small, but significantly valuable life/work lessons that stuck.

TJ is now one of FlipKey’s co-founders. FlipKey was conceived with the basic idea of applying web 2.0 principles to under served markets — in their case vacation rentals.

TripAdvisor invested in FlipKey last year, and it’s great to see how well they’re doing. TripAdvisor now includes FlipKey reviews on its own network of sites, which attract over 30 million visitors a month worldwide.

The big challenge with UGC is reaching critical mass quickly. FlipKey took an alternative approach compared to its parent TripAdvisor. Rather than offering an open review system where consumers were required to find the site and home/accomodation they stayed in to leave a review, FlipKey went directly to the source (the rental management companies) and created a Reputation Manager that invites confirmed past guests via an email to leave a review. This also ensured higher quality of reviews, as the reviewer is guaranteed to have actually stayed at the vacation rental. Smart.

Last night we also brainstormed some _big_ ideas for Shareaholic, which took me right back to when compete.com was hatched — lots more on that soon 🙂

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