Local-search company Insider Pages Inc. wants to use high gasoline prices as an incentive to get Web users to write reviews of local businesses.
Insider Pages provides local search results, an area that has emerged as highly competitive. In the past year, giant search engines Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have added local search capabilities.
To give its site a more authentic local connection, Insider Pages ranks its search results based on customer reviews. The premise is that users prefer to get recommendations from their friends, or their friend's friends. When searching for a local hairdresser, restaurant or dentist, for example, reviews from people in a user's network will appear at the top. The more reviews, the better the local tie-in.
Pasadena-based Insider Pages, an Idealab Inc.-funded company, competes with other sites such as Seattle-based Judy's Book with membership networks building visits.
Insider Pages' latest promotion offers users a $10 gas card for every 10 reviews written. "The whole idea is to get more local business reviews on the site," said Stu MacFarland, founder and chief executive. "This one is timely because gas is really expensive, and we're giving people something they might really need right now in exchange for something that's really valuable to us."
Internet service provider Boingo Wireless Inc. added 30 North American airports and six European airports to its network of Wi-Fi hotspots. That brings Boingo's network to 163 airports worldwide, 93 of which are sprinkled across the U.S. and Canada.
But it's been a slow-developing market. Of 2,000 business travelers surveyed by the Gartner Group in a recent study, only one-fourth reported using Wi-Fi hotspots in airports or on planes, while 78 percent said that they would prefer to be out of contact while in the air.
Cost emerged as a main issue. "If you're a business traveler today, even if you have a Wi-Fi card in your notebook, you're not going to pay for Wi-Fi every month because you don't know where you're going to be able to get it," said Ken Dulaney, vice president of mobile computing with Gartner Inc.
Boingo's Wi-Fi access is also available on long-haul flights on Lufthansa Airlines (Deutsche Lufthansa AG), SAS AB, Japan Airlines Corp., and Singapore Airlines Ltd. Travelers surveyed said more personal space, larger baggage allowances and better in-flight entertainment were higher priorities than in-flight Internet access.
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