I've been on holiday for the last 2 weeks. Whilst away (and trying not to think about work), we took a boat trip where 12 people went off on a catamaran for the day, 6 of us from the same hotel. During the chit-chat that goes on in such a scenario, we got to talking about the hotel and how its location was surprisingly good for getting around - and one thing struck me: all 3 couples who stayed at this hotel (it was a Hilton, not normally my 1st choice of a vacation hotel, really) had used www.TripAdvisor.com to select where to stay.
Now for the last couple of years, I've used TripAdvisor to research places for holidaying, and it's always come up trumps... sometimes leading us to hotels or locations that we'd not normally have known about, or giving tips on what to do when we get there. I love the fact that it's constantly being updated and that you can take or leave some of the more positive and negative comments based on the style of writing and after forming an opinion about how experienced the author really is (eg. if someone thinks everything is brilliant, maybe they don't have much to compare it with).
There are plenty of web sites I'd use routinely, but there are relatively few that the "general public" might have cottoned onto and not see as a nice (eg. Microsoft Technet isn't going to be on the radar of your average PC user).
Obviously, news sites like news.bbc.co.uk have a general appeal but they're straightforward replacements for other sources of news. Sites like Amazon and any number of other shopping sites can replace the physical shopping in a store, and using their reader reviews might give you more context on what to/not to buy. Shopping comparisons like PriceGrabber or PriceRunner help the user find where the cheapest items are, so replace the need to shop around by going from store to store.
TripAdvisor, on the other hand, is like taking traditional holiday guidebooks and turbocharging them. I've already started researching the next 2 holidays 🙂
I mentioned a few other travel sites in a previous blog post - all part of the clued-up traveller's kit bag.