Social Network Protects Summer Vacationers from Con-Artists and Fraud
Welcome to the era of the social network, where word of mouth travels at the speed of light, and “let the buyer beware” isn't a warning, it's a mission. YachtPals.com, the world's largest international social network for boaters, has developed a free world-wide consumer protection mapping app with boating business and marine industry customer reviews around the globe.
As the largest boating social network in the world, YachtPals.com was uniquely positioned to help in this cause. Using the latest Web 2.0 technology, and working with Internet technology giant Google, a group of programmers from the international organization were able to develop a consumer review system that allows boaters to identify and share information about any boating related company, anywhere on the globe. This week saw the groundbreaking beta launch of the free worldwide service – the first of its kind anywhere.
“We wanted to create something where people could just look on a map to find trustworthy boating-related businesses in their immediate vicinity,” said YachtPals publisher Brad Hampton, “so we needed it to be accessible from on board a boat, meaning via a notebook, tablet or even an iPhone or Droid.” The company relied on Google to provide much of the mapping technology, and developed the review system in-house. Said Hampton about the successful beta launch: “Since this is the first service of its kind, it was one of those things where you couldn't be sure it would work until you 'flipped the switch.' Once we did, it instantly began exceeding our expectations. We were all kind of silent, and then someone just said: 'This is huge!'”
The system is open and free to use. Anyone can look up a business without any registration required, and anyone but a business owner can join the site for free to post or review businesses. The reviewed companies appear on the site's global boating maps, which can be viewed via computer, internet tablet, or web-enabled devices such as mobile phones. This added accessibility is so people on boats who need goods or services can actually access the site from the water, giving them the ability to learn which local businesses to trust and which to avoid, before they even touch shore. Additionally, people at home or in the office can check out companies around the world, long before they arrive on vacation.
The interface (http://yachtpals.com/boatbusiness) is designed to be user friendly. What appears to be a familiar Google map displays the companies as icons, but a click on any company icon brings up the business name, location, and a simple 5-star rating. More information is available with another click, which brings up a detailed listing where users can learn more, read about others' experiences, and even add their own reviews. The developers created the system using very robust software and standards, and they are confident that it will be capable of listing every boating business on the planet.
It is the goal of all involved in this large volunteer-driven project to provide a free service which will help reduce or even prevent fraud and corruption in the pleasure marine industry, as well as to help boaters enjoy this and future Summers without fear of becoming victims. Now that the beta launch has been successful, similar systems for other leisure industries are currently being discussed. Welcome to the era of the social network, where word of mouth travels at the speed of light, and “let the buyer beware” isn't a warning, it's a mission.
YachtPals.com, the online boating community, is a global award-winning social network and news site for boaters around the world. A grassroots start-up launched on January 1, 2008, the volunteer-driven YachtPals.com has been consistently recognized by internationally respected news and boating organizations as being both the largest boating social network in the world, and the world's largest syndicated news source for boating-related issues. It has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, the BBC and dozens of other major national and regional publications and broadcasts around the globe, and is unchallenged as the largest international boating association on the Internet.
Submitted by Leah Bell
For more information, contact Brad Hampton