World Travelers + Social Media = Dopplr
This week, 15 people in our class will travel to London to complete our Georgetown class in Global Communications in the Digital Age. We will join the other 24.5 million foreign travelers who visit England every year.
As a gateway to Europe, the U.K. welcomes tourists and business travelers. At the same time the English are also the most traveled people in the world. Even with the economic crisis, 58.6 million UK residents traveled abroad, and almost 20 million people travel through Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport for international travel.
It is no wonder that this travel hub would be the birthplace for Dopplr, a Facebook-type of social networking site for the jet setters. The name “Dopplr” comes from Christian Doppler, a 19th Century scientist who came up with what’s now known as the Doppler effect of moving sound.
Launched in 2007 by a London-based start up, Doppr tells you when people you know will be in the same cities. It also reminds you of people who live in the places you’re planning to visit.
The Dopplr offers users the following features:
- Users can send messages to Twitter with the words “D dopplr” followed by trip details (when and where) and it’s converted into trip information on Dopplr while keeping your information private. Or, users can send a message with a “@dopplr” prefix if they don’t mind the details being seen publicly on Twitter.
- There’s a Facebook app to share Dopplr updates automatically.
- iPhone app to update profile through the popular mobile phone.
- In addition, Dopplr users can also calculate the carbon footprint their journeys have produced and have that included in their account data.
- Dopplr also summarizes your trips with an annual and semi-annual Personal Report. Your report will include Flickr images for the places you travelled to and a number of other information like other Dopplr users that traveled to the same places you did and an estimate of the carbon emissions generated by your travels. They chose a clever representation for the environmental impact of your traveling: they tell you how much CO2 you produced compared to the yearly output of a Hummer SUV.
Dopplr’s 2008 Personal Annual Report for Barack Obama
The company claims that Dopplr’s users have already shared 110 million kilometers (70 million miles) of trips to over 2,000 cities around the world.
Dopplr positions itself as a boutique site targeting high-end frequent travelers. According to its CEO Marko Ahtisaari, the site’s users tend to be younger, better educated, more technically savvy and earn more than traditional frequent travelers, according to the company. Ahtisaari says Dopplr’s advantages over other sites are stem from the its very international operation. The company’s operations are split between Helsinki and London. Its backers and users include high-profile technology leaders from global innovation hubs , including Reid Hoffman, the Silicon Valley-based founder of LinkedIn, Madrid-base serial entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, Internet legend Esther Dyson and Japan’s Joi Ito, the current CEO of Creative Commons.
Also, about one-half of their users are in Europe, one-third in the U.S. and one-third in the rest of the world, with Asia-Pacific growing fast. And, over half of the people on Dopplr share trips with a person from another country. Compared to traditional frequent travelers Doppler users are more used to booking directly online with 80% booking directly on an airline website, compared with 30% for traditional frequent travelers, according to data released by Dopplr.
A survey carried out in early 2008 on influential tech companies by the Guardian Media Group named Dopplr as a company to watch out for. Dopplr’s high online mileage attained in just two years caught the attention of Nokia which bought the start up in September 2009.
It will be interesting to find out how a global, mobile service provider like Nokia would do with Dopplr. There have been no announcements about what they will do, but if they’re smart, they can use the site as a great complement to their mobile marketing initiatives targeting high-end travelers from London and around the world.