Concierges were always one of my favorite things about a hotel. If you didn't have a friend in the place you're visiting, the concierge could be counted on to steer you to great restaurants and uncover worthwhile activities.

Along came the Web, making the hotel concierge about as obsolete as a lobby landline. Consumers rely on the Web to deliver information, recommendations, and reviews for trips and activities, whether in an unfamiliar city or their own neighborhoods. Travel sites have thrived by helping users customize trips, providing travel-related content to enhance the booking experience, and up-selling purchases with car rental and hotel reservations from their partners. Restaurant review sites make it easy to select the right place to grab a bite.

Other types of companies can benefit from consumers' penchant for researching their plans online. Interactive marketers can now couple the concierge concept with the Web's convenience to deliver value as they promote their products.

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