Internet social networking and self-help travel websites are drastically changing the holiday planning landscape, the founder of the world's largest online travel advisory service said on Thursday.
By surfing the Web, travellers can get the opinions of friends and thousands of other tourists rather than having to rely on glossy brochures, guide books or travel agents, Stephen Kaufer told Reuters.
"We are extremely bullish of the view that social networks — getting advice from your friends — will fundamentally change the way people are looking at travel today," said the Harvard graduate.
Kaufer is head of the TripAdvisor site which publishes the opinions of travellers about countries, cities, hotels and restaurants worldwide. It claims to have the world's largest "online travel community".
He said social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace were also changing the way people viewed travel. Previously people would ask their friends, get some ideas then visit a travel agent. Now, he said, people instead valued honest opinions online.
"Certainly worldwide we have already seen that huge shift to the ‘I don't need the travel agents any more’," he said.