Tripatini launches new “Ask a Travel Expert” features, contest

Gadling first reported on Tripatini, a new social networking website for travelers back in January. The site has earned a devoted following thanks to its large and growing community of passionate travelers, journalists and industry professionals. Recently Tripatini unveiled a new feature to tap into the collective experience and expertise of its members called “Ask a Travel Expert.”

For all the information that’s floating on the Internet, one of the most frustrating aspects of travel is finding reliable, up-to-date information. Tripatini’s Ask a Travel Expert fills that gap, creating a dedicated Q&A forum where information seekers can ask the site’s savvy travelers and travel experts specific questions about their trips. Right now there’s ongoing discussions about New York food trucks, shark cage diving in South Africa and tips for the Hawaiian isle of Kauai. Tripatini has also built their Ask a Travel Expert function around an embeddable widget which can be added to websites anywhere on the web.

Best of all, to help promote their new Ask a Travel Expert feature, Tripatini is giving away a trip for two to London now through June 30th. All you have to do to participate is simply ask or answer a question during the contest period and you’re entered for a chance to win. A forum to get answers to your most pressing travel questions and a chance to win a free trip? Sounds like good deal to me. Head on over to Tripatini’s Ask a Travel Expert page and complete the easy sign up for an account if you’d like to give it a try.

Tripatini offers social networking for travelers and experts

Tripatini screenshotTripatini is a new site in the Ning.com family, a fast growing platform for social networking. Anyone can create a Ning.com site, but Tripatini is flourishing with an interesting concept — allowing media experts and rookie travelers to get together.

David Paul Appell, a veteran journalist (Conde Nast, Harper Collins, Hearst Magazines, Frommer’s) and social network developer, re-branded Go-Lo.com as Tripatini in October of last year, saying, “We’re getting fabulous response from both the travel media and trade as well as the general public, but our original name, reflecting a focus on budget travel primarily, was proving too limiting. Today we choose ‘Tripatini’ not just because it sounds more fun — a potent, sophisticated cocktail of travel — but because it more clearly telegraphs ‘travel’ and is more welcoming, inclusive, and versatile.” Not long after that, The New York Post called Tripatini “Facebook for travelers.”

Once you’re all signed up for Tripatini (really easy, especially if you’re already on any other Ning sites), you can make yourself a profile, then join groups. The groups function much like Yahoo Groups and other message boards of yore; there are discussion threads where you can ask a question or post pertinent information for the group. Currently, the leading group on Tripatini is Media Only, which has 371 members (at time of writing) talking about the Chris Elliott scandal, suggesting eco-friendly hotels for one journalist’s story and whinging about freelancer issues (Examiner.com is taking a beating on that thread). Other groups are location-based, so if you’re planning a trip to, say, Malta, you can join the Malta group to get info or discuss the country with other travelers, PR folks and media experts.

Tripatini also offers to host your own travel-related blog, videos and pics, and has both chat and travel shopping functionalities. If you’re interested, click here to check it out!