This summer, the annual study “Portrait of American Travelers,” by travel marketing company MMGY, highlighted the barreling trend of user-generated content. Forty-one percent of about 2,800 respondents said they visited a travel review site for destination information, up 7 percent from last year. Only 37 percent said they relied on friends and family for trip ideas. In addition, more than half of the participants said they trust review sites over ratings by such established opinionators as AAA and Forbes. “TripAdvisor has freed me from dependence on any individual or company that wants to profit from my choices,” said Ginny Cunningham, who has used the site for more than a decade. “Frommer’s, Fodor’s and travel agents are great, but they’re exceedingly limited in the real-life feedback they offer.” To understand how the company has altered the vacation-planning universe, I journeyed to Planet TripAdvisor. I found hotel managers who start the day by reading reviews written by recent guests and travelers who feed the community with hundreds of postings. I also gained a deeper understanding of the company’s own journey, a multi-part adventure that involves exploring uncharted territory as well as revisiting well-trod paths. Get the full story at The Washington Post