Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Lonely Planet today announced that Wenzani – a free app for the iPhone and iPod touch – is available in public beta from the App Store. Wenzani – a Zulu greeting which means “what are you doing?”- brings together recommendations from Lonely Planet and other top travel publishers along with local experts, and users’ social networks.
Wenzani is designed for those looking for trustworthy, high-quality recommendations in categories including restaurants, nightlife, shopping, hotels, cultural activities, kid friendly and live events. It contains three key features:
Combining Top Expert Recommendations – Users customize the app by choosing who they want to ‘follow.’ Wenzani brings together content from Lonely Planet, Frommer’s Travel and DK Eyewitness, the top three guidebook publishers in the US, and traditionally competitors in this space, along with other expert sources including BBC Travel, Time Out, and Hearst. In addition, Wenzani highlights local taste makers, for example Lonely Planet’s NYC-based Travel Editor Robert Reid and other lifestyle bloggers. These partnerships ensure that the guide offers the most comprehensive and respected expert information, with multiple recommendations to access.
Customized Algorithm – Wenzani’s technology presents the content according to context and relevancy, taking into consideration the user’s location and their social network, so that the information is constantly updated while on the go. Soon, Wenzani will filter by other factors such as weather, time of day, and whether the user is a local or visitor, so it becomes even more tailored and relevant to the users’ needs in real time.
Social Recommendations – Integrated with the curated expert recommendations is the social media function, which allows users to connect with their friends and other travelers in order to share their own personal experiences and recommendations. Users can browse their friends’ entries and recommendations, create their own listing to add into the guide, or ask a question to the community (e.g. “Where should I get sushi in midtown Manhattan?”) to get immediate answers pushed onto their mobile device. Wenzani also has a Facebook web app to allow users to integrate recommendations from Facebook into the guide.
Jenny Fielding, CEO of Wenzani, says, “Wenzani is designed for the social generation, allowing users to tap into leading content from multiple expert sources with socially curated recommendations. It’s creating a personalized guide on-the-go. It will help locals find new places and events, and travelers explore like locals.”
The first phase of the rollout will take the form of a limited beta with further updates planned for 2012. As part of the public beta, 100,000 downloads will be available.
Wenzani is available free of charge for iPhone and iPod touch from the App Store or http://www.itunes.com/appstore and will be available on other platforms in 2012.