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On Monday, TripAdvisor debuted a refreshed design and a new social platform, called the TripAdvisor Travel Feed. It looks quite a lot like Facebook for travelers.

TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer unveiled the “social-assisted travel” tool, which is expected to be available to the public later this year. With it, travelers will be able to create TripAdvisor profiles with an eerie resemblance to Facebook, and follow other travelers: friends, family members and brands.

Kaufer explained that in preparation for his own travels, he would turn to TripAdvisor for inspiration and reviews, but he would still scour his email for recommendations from friends and family, and also walk around the office with a notepad writing down tips and suggestions. “Surely, there’s a better way,” he thought.

The TripAdvisor Travel Feed is supposed to be an answer to that need for balance: a way to distill individualized trips from the sometimes dissonant and overwhelming mix of suggestions that pour in from travel guides, brands, influencers, family members, friends, colleagues and anonymous reviewers.

Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

How it works

Currently in closed beta, the new travel feed will be the first thing members see when they log onto the TripAdvisor app or site: a homepage filled with content from favorite brands (including, for the first time, videos); reviews and trip suggestions from connections; and new round-ups and top-rated destinations from TripAdvisor. Here, travelers can also post their own reviews and share photos, and find recommendations for people and companies to follow. There’s even a familiar “thumbs-up” button.

When it’s time to book a trip, travelers can select a destination from the central dropdown, which will instantly adapt the travel feed to content, reviews, videos and photographs about that location.

Now, instead of simply reading reviews from mostly anonymous people, travelers can connect with — and be inspired by — people they trust.

A search for information on Nashville, for example, might resurface a review from someone in your network even if it was written two years ago — hopefully, one that’s still relevant. (A member of the TripAdvisor research team confirmed that the site will continue to try and filter out reviews about properties and experiences that are closed.) The travel feed will populate new stories from favorite brands and travel experts, popular things to do — even itineraries and trips created by the people you follow — focused on the destination of your choice.

Travelers will be able to create “Trips”: guides or itineraries filled with saved content that can be private, shared with travel companions and published to the community at large. And, of course, you can continue to book hotels and activities directly through TripAdvisor.

A TripAdvisor representative confirmed that non-members will see the same new design with the travel feed — so if the idea of having another social platform to manage sounds unbearable, you won’t be obligated to create one. The travel feed won’t, however, be personalized in any way.

During his presentation, Kaufer promised that the new TripAdvisor would deliver “everything [travelers] need to have the perfect trip” for their individual travel style. Whether TripAdvisor’s Travel Feed will take off, or go the way of Myspace and Friendster, is simply too soon to say.

More than 500 brands, publishers and influencers have already joined the TripAdvisor travel community — including The Points Guy. When the overhauled TripAdvisor emerges from beta later this year, you’ll be able to follow us there, too.

Featured image by Malcolm MacGregor/Getty Images.

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