Social media trip planning gets another boost

Expedia-owned hotel booking site Hotels.com has launched a new Facebook app that allows groups to collaborate on hotel bookings.

The "Hotels WithMe" app, which launched September 28, allows Facebook friends to share hotel information by creating a "trip" and inviting participants to join them.

All members of the trip can then search for hotels, add them to a shortlist and discuss them, with prices and availability changing in real time.

Once a shortlist has been selected, members can vote on their favorite and book via the Hotels.com reservation system.

The app, which was developed by Columbus Internet, includes all of the 120,000 plus properties offered by Hotels.com and allows guests to see hotel information, photos and Google Maps and Streetview data.

Hotel.com's Josie Shah said that "the new app will make the process of choosing and booking the perfect hotel for you with family, friends, and colleagues simple and straightforward, and most importantly a truly collaborative experience."

Hotels WithMe inherits some of the functionality from Columbus' previous effort at a group planning application, the Google Wave-based Travel WithMe.

However, with the August announcement that Google was discontinuing development of Wave, the Travel WithMe application now appears to have a limited future.

Social media sites such as Facebook are becoming an increasingly important way for travelers to find destinations, co-ordinate planning and gauge opinions.

In June, travel review giant TripAdvisor rolled out its own Facebook Connect integration, allowing users to connect with friends to get hotel recommendations.

http://apps.facebook.com/hotelswithme/

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