Gowalla relaunching with travel guide focus

Formerly just a check-in service, Gowalla is shifting its focus toward the travel business and less on local services.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
Josh Williams shows off new Gowalla
Watch this: Josh Williams shows off new Gowalla
Gowalla is now a city guide. TechCrunch

SAN FRANCISCO--At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference today, the first product announcement came from Gowalla CEO Josh Williams. The new version of Gowalla will be bringing city guides to the service, leveraging the company's large database of places and updates from users.

The new version will launch shortly with more than 60 city guides using, of course, user content. But the service has new editorial partners, including Disney, National Geographic, and several universities.

With Gowalla, you can now create "stories" around events. Anyone you tag in a location and time becomes a full authoring partner of the post, and the presentation of these stories is quite good.

The question is: by focusing on the traveler instead of the resident, does Gowalla give up the nice deal-based transactional business that Foursquare and Facebook can run with? Perhaps, but the travel business is in many ways a much sweeter place to be. The advertising money is national more than regional, bigger, and more stable. You can still use Gowalla to check in at locations, so this is a bigger--and smarter--change than it may appear at first.

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