Recent startup, Uencounter.me is a virtual pin map that is social. It allows users to create a personalised virtual pin map to mark locations of interest, and its open design enables a wide range of uses.
For example, shortly after its ‘coming out’ last month (the site went “quietly live” in Nov 2011), the Uencounter team saw users focusing on its core function – to record encounters – but extending the concept to express gratitude. People were marking places they had lived, worked, or experienced adventure and recalling people in their lives who had left an impact. In many cases, the individuals they were remembering were participants in brief encounters or someone they had lost track of along the way.
According to Leslyn Kantner, Co-Founder & CEO, comments such as “What was that man’s name?” were frequent. So the team added an option to ‘send an encountergram’, when a user places a pin on the map to represent a specific location in time. The encountergram let’s them describe the encounter and select a predefined message such as “I think of you often” or “You made a difference” or they can create their own personal message. Recently, a user left a message for a random stranger who had stopped on the side of a highway in Nevada to help when the user had run out of gas a few miles outside of Las Vegas. Messages have been left for college professors, customer service reps, medical personnel, and first responders.
What’s in it for travel bloggers?
Well, the team at uencounter.me says that users are creating maps for many different reasons but there is a notable increase in the number of travel bloggers using the site to map their travels and draw traffic. The site has a built in social element; when a pin is placed on a map, all of the ‘nearby’ pins are presented to the user. The nature of the app encourages interactions between users about pins on the map. Bloggers are able to add a link to their blogs on the description of each pin they place on the map and Uencounter.me offers bloggers a badge to place on their webpage so that readers can link directly to the bloggers map.
It can also link travellers looking for specific destination ideas and information. For example, if a traveller is headed to New York City, there are dozens of pins on the uencounter.me map that correspond to bloggers who have written about experiences there. Many of them recommend or review restaurants, hotels, and things to do while visiting New York. The same can be said for locations around the world. Bloggers from India, England, Italy and the United States are dropping pins all over the globe. The experiences they write about range from petting tigers in Beijing, touring the African wine country, and traveling Route 66 in the US.
Favorite dining spots are also common with many of the bloggers and are represented in dozens of cities. Bloggers also share information about lesser known festivals and local attractions on their maps, allowing users to virtually experience destinations that popular guide books may miss.
Leslyn Kantner says:
We feel they are a perfect complement to our platform. We know that a lot of our users live vicariously through some of the travel bloggers and make travel decisions based on the comments of bloggers. It is not a review site per se, but it can certainly be perceived and used that way as users chime in about their travel experiences.
The uencounter.me team says that they are excited to see Travel Bloggers using the site and believes that as it gains popularity, the general public will find it a valuable tool for accessing travel information. The travel industry can also use the site since businesses and organisations can drop pins for where their customers or group members are located.