Yahoo revamps travel site

New Yahoo Travel to offer updated mapping features, Messenger tool and personalized trip recommendations.

Yahoo is set to revamp its travel Web site early Wednesday to offer new mapping features and a chat-based collaboration tool, as well as personalized trip recommendations and travel deals.

"What Netflix has done for movies and what Amazon has done for book recommendations we're doing for travel recommendations," said Jasper Malcolmson, director of Yahoo Travel.

Yahoo Travel combines Yahoo FareChase, which finds low-priced air fares, with Yahoo Trip Planner, a social network for travelers and would-be travelers where they can plan trips, create interactive maps and keep online journals and photos, he said. The site will allow people to insert tags, like "romantic" or "family-oriented," so others can find trips with similar themes. A new "Today's Picks" section will highlight 10 destinations, and a "Show Me" drop-down box will let people browse based on categories such as beach, art/architecture and nightlife.

The site also will offer hotel and flight options based on the nearest airport to the traveler and the most popular prices chosen by Yahoo users.

In addition, Yahoo is offering Yahoo Messenger Flight Planner, an instant messenger plug-in that people can use to plan trips together in real time. The site also features new mapping technology that allows other, more detailed maps to be layered over a Yahoo map. For instance, people can see details of the ancient Roman Forum ruins on top of the city map of Rome, parking lots at the San Diego airport, and hiking trails on top of the satellite map of the Grand Canyon.

Research from Harris Interactive conducted on behalf of Yahoo found that of more than 2,300 adults 43 percent had not decided where they want to spend their summer vacation and about 70 percent had not locked down their summer travel plans yet.

"Our intention is to become the site for people who haven't made up their minds about where they want to go," Malcolmson said.

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