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Travel Smarter

Before your next trip, hit up these online communities.

There's nothing worse than going to an unknown city and having no clue where to stay, where to eat (with or without clients) or what to do if you have any downtime. Before your next trip, hit up the various online communities that provide photos, videos and the inside scoop on what to sample--and what to avoid.

$244 billion: the amount generated by business-related travel, according to the U.S. Travel Association
Some social networking sites provide peer-only reviews: TripAdvisor offers candid assessments of hotels, resorts and restaurants; Skytrax users rate airlines and airports; and Gusto reviews hotels, restaurants and attractions. Others, such as WAYN, include peer reviews along with content from travel experts, including travel writers and travel agents. Hotelicopter combines a search engine with community features that connect colleagues and friends. From there, users have their choice of more than 30 hotel booking sites. Virtual Tourist users post questions in the site's forums, or they can choose to e-mail a specific travel query to an individual member. Wikitravel and World66 are both open-content travel guides, which allow users to add or amend content on hotels, restaurants and attractions around the world.

Travel suppliers are also offering to sponsor social networking sites for a community made up of their customers. On Sheraton's homepage, guests can log on to praise or bemoan their hotel experiences, or make recommendations to other road warriors. At Members Know Travel, American Express customers participate in forums moderated by Travel + Leisure writers. Its "Cardmember Favorites" guide lists the most popular hotels and restaurants around the world. And the rankings are based on card spend rather than polls, which gives the list some empirical heft.

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This article was originally published in the June 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Travel Smarter.

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