Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Yeah, but what does everyone else have to say?

So you're planning a last-minute weekend getaway, and you've both decided Saturday night should be a splurgy, super-special, won't-soon-be-forgotten kind of dinner. You've got it narrowed down to three possible restaurants you found on Yelp, and bookmarked all of them into your Planapple trip.

So how to decide? Wouldn't it be nice if you could check the reviews on other sites like TripAdvisor and Yahoo Local, look at a copy of each restaurant's menu, or check on OpenTable to see if there are even reservations still available? "Easy enough," you say, "I know how to use the web."

And you could do that. But at Planapple we hate having to repeatedly retype things like the name of each restaurant. And we hate getting to a site and finding out it doesn't actually have any information on the restaurant. So instead, we're going to make Planapple do the work for you.

We've added magic links on each item's details page. In the bookmarks section, we'll show you all the links we could find for that place at other web sites, automatically...

... some you know, and some you may not have heard of before. But all there, ready for the clicking, without any extra effort on your part. Ta-da!

Oh, and while we're working magic, we've also started automatically filling in missing contact info (phone number, official web site, contact email) for places you bookmark.

This new feature is experimental, and we expect it to get better over time. Right now, it works best if you originally bookmarked a place from Yelp, TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet or CitySearch. It's primarily for commercial establishments like hotels, restaurants, and other businesses -- although it also knows some parks and museums. And coverage is generally better for places in the U.S. and Europe than elsewhere right now. If the additional links don't show up for an item, it either means we couldn't recognize the place you've bookmarked (try setting its address if there isn't one there) or that we couldn't find any other links for it.

[For the technically-curious among you, the powerful magic comes from a company called Factual.]

Let us know what you think, or if you find any problems with the links and contact info we're adding. Happy planning!