The following content is taken from the March 2009 enRoute magazine which I read on a recent Air Canada flight to Toronto.
Travel is a social activity. You meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. On a business trip, you hang out at your hotel bar and meet others doing the same thing. You strike up a conversation. Sometimes, you stay in touch. Every business trip is really a trip to meet someone.
So it’s not really surprising that the social aspect of travel has morphed into social networking. Sites like FlyerTalk are not just message boards about airlines and airports but also places where people “meet” and talk and, eventually, socialize.
The endless number of applications built around travel speaks to our desire to see the world or, if we can’t, to experience it vicariously through others. What these sites do is something many are calling “intelligent networking.” Our business trips are often networking opportunities, and the Internet has allowed us to network without leaving our desks.
On Twitter anyone who is thinking about travelling announces it to the world. The “tweets” come in waves when someone is actually on the road; it’s almost as if you’re travelling with them, and, in a sense, you are. From Twitter you can link to a site where you’ve uploaded your photos, so your followers can see what you’re talking about.
Go to Flickr, another photo-sharing site, and you can sort through millions of vacation photos from all over the world.
Why are we doing this?
Well, what’s the first thing you ask when meeting someone who’s been away?
How was the trip?
Because travel is social. You want to know the story. Watching others travel allows us to construct our own stories in our minds. Every traveller has something to relate, no matter how mundane the reason for travel, and every anecdote has the potential to illuminate and entertain.
And if this social travel allows me to grow my network and even wins me new business? Well, that’s about as intelligent as networking gets.