Facebook Announces The World’s Most Social Landmarks

For those looking to meet others and make connections when traveling, Facebook has named the 25 most social landmarks in the world. To collect data, the social network looked at user check-ins across 25 cities around the world, to determine which sites were the most communal. They found that parks, shopping centers and gardens attracted the most people, although in Norway the popular hangout seems to be T.G.I. Friday’s.

The top 25 attractions in the world, in alphabetical order by country, were found to be:

1. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Unicenter (shopping center)
2. Melbourne, Australia: Crown Casino
3. São Paulo, Brazil: Parque de Ibirapuera (park)
4. Toronto, Canada: Rogers Centre (sports stadium)
5. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Tivoli Gardens (cultural center)
6. Paris, France: Avenue de Champs-Èlysèe (iconic neighborhood)
7. Berlin, Germany: Kurfürstendamm (iconic neighborhood)
8. New Delhi, India: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (house of worship)
9. Dublin, Ireland: The O2 Dublin (concert arena)
10. Rome, Italy: Colosseum (historic landmark)11. Tokyo, Japan: Tokyo Dome (baseball stadium)
12. Mexico City, Mexico: Centro Historico de la Ciudad de Mexico (historical area)
13. Aukland, New Zealand: Eden Park (park)
14. Oslo, Norway: T.G.I. Friday’s Aker Brygge (restaurant)
15. Moscow, Russia: Propoganda Nightclub (nightclub)
16. Singapore: Singapore Universal Studios (amusement park)
17. Johannesburg, South Africa: Montecasino (casino)
18. Seoul, South Korea: Lotte World (amusement park)
19. Barcelona, Spain: Camp Nou (soccer stadium)
20. Stockholm, Sweden: Gröna Lund (amusement park)
21. London, United Kingdom: The O2 (concert arena)
22. Chicago, United States: Wrigley Field (sports stadium)
23. San Francisco, United States: AT&T Park (park)
24. New York, United States: Times Square (entertainment district)
25. Los Angeles, United States: Staples Center (sports arena)

What’s your favorite place to meet people when traveling?

Location-Based Smartphone App Makes Travel More Social

There are many smartphone apps that exist to make travel more social. These apps allow you to find travel buddies, see who will be at your accommodations and even stay in people’s homes for free. However, there is a new app on the market called Zamp that is helping travelers to discover who’s nearby and connect with them in real time.

The app is a location-based service that travelers can use to share and receive tips, arrange meet-ups and coordinate transportation. For example, through their airport check-in, users can see who’s on their flight, send messages and plan trip details like taxis and tours. There is also a fun feature that tracks users’ travel stats, like miles traveled, most frequented routes and preferred airlines. And to help service providers, Zamp allows for immediate user feedback to be given.

While this may not sound new, Zamp places an emphasis on making travel more social.”Many other travel services place an emphasis on travel booking or planning or post-travel reviews,” explains Sam Zebarjadi, one of the founders of Zamp. “We are focused on making travel more social, as it happens, and the platform is really built as an intelligent analytics and data engine.”

At this time, the company is working on building strategic partnerships to create more features and enhance the user experience. For example, they have teamed up with the Frequent Flyer Network to create a branded travel “lounge,” where users can communicate in real time from anywhere in the world. They’re also working with TripIt to enhance the flight check-in service.

Available on iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android. Free. Click here to download.

Cruise industry sails into social waters

Not all that long ago major cruise lines, like many other industries, did not have much time for social media. They gave Facebook, Twitter, bloggers and other social platforms half a look then settled back into their comfy traditional marketing chairs, content with business as usual.

They didn’t get it.

Lately though, the tide has turned and cruise lines are getting on board for what looks to be a wild ride.

Today we see major campaigns aimed at engaging us in a conversation. This is the stuff that brought terror into the hearts of cruise line executives not all that long ago. They did not understand what to do with social media.

Today we see lines like Carnival Cruise Lines diving in head first on several fronts. That’s important because Carnival Corp, parent of Carnival Cruise Lines (@CarnivalCruise) and many others including Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) and Holland America Line (@HalCruises) often sets the pace other lines will follow in all sorts of stuff.

Most recently, Gadling told you about Carnival sailing to Times Square for New Years Eve where the line will drop a ton of confetti on the crowd at midnight. Carnival will cross the line into social engagement in a big way that night. Much of that confetti will come from visitors to New York’s Times Square who stopped by the line’s “wishing wall”. There, they will hand-write their hopes and dreams for 2011 on red, white and blue slips of paper to be included in the drop on to party-goers at Midnight. It doesn’t get a whole lot more engaging than that.

But that event is just the most recent social effort by Carnival. The line’s senior cruise director John Heald has a popular long-running blog, the company’s twitter handle (@CCLSupport) answers questions issues swiftly and the line’s website promotes more interactivity than ever before.

Carnival gets it.

They are not the only ones either. Princess Cruises has thoughtfully entered the social arena with their Twitter #FollowMeAtSea trips where travel bloggers and writers were invited along for an actual cruise to write and blog about. They shared their experiences with loyal followers on Twitter and Facebook, bringing them along for the ride. I was on the last one, a 12-day cruise tour through Alaska in June.

On that Twitter press trip, Princess defined just how globally penetrating active social engagement can be for cruise lines.

Along for the ride were a wide, diverse variety of bloggers and photographers from around the planet including Emmy award-winning JD Andrews (@earthXplorer), funny-man Rick Griffin (@MidLifeRoadTrip), Canadian adventure-couple Debra Corbeil and Dave Bouskill (@theplanetd) and Gadling’s Catherine Bodry. Homespun mid-westerner Beth Blair (@BethBlair) was there alongside Germany’s Emlyn Boecher from international travel icon @Traveldudes and Liz Wright (@Travelogged) along with luxury travel expert Carrie Finley-Bajak (@Cruisebuzz) to round out the group.

Communicating with followers from all corners of the world, Princess began a conversation that continues today and has expanded to include more than simply promoting the line’s products, raising awareness on global topics like environmental concerns down to micro-interests like dog sled racing.

Princess gets it. Industry-wide, it’s an evolving effort as cruise lines work on opening and maintaining an ongoing conversation with us.

Royal Caribbean tried and failed on Twitter by posting last-minute discount pricing without the engagement factor. The whole idea of using social media outlets as just another place to paste advertising has not been well-received by a public looking for transparency and engagement. Still, Royal Caribbean is evolving too with old-school efforts like giving away a free cruise to the audience on Oprah’s My Favorite Things while working a very active Facebook page and a popular Presidents Blog where President and CEO Adam Goldstein posts regularly.

In the lead for executive participation though is Norwegian Cruise lines with Executive Vice-President Andy Stuart (@NCLAndy) the first and only cruise line executive on Twitter. The line successfully integrated the launch of new mega-ship Norwegian Epic in a very social way by inviting along an A-list of cruise and travel bloggers like Vegas red-carpet brother team Bill Cody (@VegasBill) and Chris Rauschnot (@24K) along with TV’s Stewart Chiron (@CruiseGuy) and Radio’s Doug Parker and Matt Bassford (@CruiseRadio). Like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian has not turned its back on traditional media either though as President and CEO Kevin Sheehan takes to the airwaves this week on an episode of CBS’s reality show Undercover Boss.

Look for more social efforts by cruise lines in the near future too as more lines “get it”, realize the benefits of engaging existing and would-be passengers and move forward into social arenas. It should be a wild ride.

Flickr photo by Port of San Diego