When Peter posted in our forum last month about the launch of several new features and additions to our budget accommodation area, it was an exciting day for us. There's often several months of work and testing behind the larger announcements, and this one was no exception. Amongst several more common features such as reviews/ratings/mapped properties, we also launched something we believe is quite unique and specially of interest to members of a community like Travellerspoint. I thought I'd highlight that something, which we're calling Social Bookings, in this blog post.
Here's how Peter described it in the forum:
See if other Travellerspoint members are staying there!. If another Travellerspoint member has booked the same property for the dates you are searching, you will see a note saying that "another Travellerspoint member is staying here on these dates". If you are the social type and are interested in hooking up with other Travellerspoint members while travelling, this might sway you to choose a different place to stay. I'm calling this "Social Booking". Once you have made the booking, you will be able to see what members are staying at the same place and be able to get in touch with them via Travellerspoint.
Peter's description is a good one but with something so unique, I thought it would be a good idea to take a more practical approach and walk through some of the steps involved with this.
Social bookings is a concept tailored towards independent travellers, much like those who in the past years have posted thousands of requests on our Travel Companions forum to meet up with other travellers heading to the same destination on the same dates. Anyone who spends time on any of the more active travel forums will know that there are literally millions of posts like this made. Backpackers setting off on a gap year to Australia for example can consider this an alternative to a group departure if they are nervous about not meeting anyone at the hostel on the first few nights. This isn't for every traveller and we're well aware of that, however we're convinced there's a large group of travellers who are going to absolutely love this feature!
How it works
Whilst browsing the budget accommodation area (which includes hostels, cheap hotels, guesthouses etc), you will see properties where other Travellerspoint members are staying on the same days.
Let's have a closer look by expanding this listing:
If you'd like to know what kind of rooms they have available and at what prices each come, click on the name to take to you to this:
~ hey look, this place now has 2 other members staying there on these nights; it must be popular!
Let's say you decide that this looks like an awesome place to stay in Amsterdam (which it is by the way!) and you proceed to make a booking. You'll be presented with a few short details you have to enter to book and at this stage will be asked if you would like to "Allow other Travellerspoint members to see you are staying here". As you can see, this is an opt-in feature only. It's completely up to you if you want to participate in this, don't tick the box and no-one will ever know any different.
At this stage, you still haven't actually gotten the details of which members are booked at the property and not until finalizing your booking does this information appear on your confirmation.
In this case both members are showing as being online (light green) and both have a full name filled in, but that's a choice that individual members make when signing up. You can choose to have a look at their profiles and see if this is the kind of traveller you'd like to hang out with based on that, or you can just send them a message directly through Travellerspoint. There's an option immediately below the names to undo your choice of having your name show up and you can unlist like this at any time through your booking confirmation page (which is emailed to you just in case you forget it of course).
This feature is currently in beta (edit: no it's not, it's now live!) while we expand on some of the other functions (like getting even more properties mapped!), but works like a charm *already*. Only Travellerspoint members have access to the Social Bookings feature, but of course anyone can place a booking at any time without being a Travellerspoint member!!