TIME has chosen “You” as the Person of the Year for ‘06 validating the power of the Internet user and social networking online as a popular trend. Gavin Tachibana writes on Google’s social networking site, Orkut: “Everyone can create a piece of media (print, Web, or video) that can be seen by anyone in the Internet-capable world. You and I are just a click away from seeing how we survive on opposite ends of the earth, of communicating the events that matter to the core of our being and of the way we live.” The way we live includes, among other choices, travel.

With the designation of “You” as the Person of the Year, hospitality leaders are once more confronted with the redirection of their industry into its user base: the customer. Visionary literates of finance, technology and development have seized the moment to specialize in the debut of social networking sites that embrace the world of travel. While MySpace.com is all the rage among the younger set but doesn’t have a dedicated travel channel within its structure, Friendster, Bebo and Lindekln are other internationally-recognized social networking/professional sites which currently have not incorporated the world of tourism within their featured services whether free or premium.

Social networking advertising is expected to top $1.8 billion by 2010. Juston Parker, President/CEO of Parker Hospitality and Executive Vice President of Gusto.com comments: “Social networking is not new. From the beginning of recorded history, man has left his mark on cave walls to share with others the best places for hunting, food, and other needs.” Granted, social networking enables people today to connect with one another at the stroke of a keyboard; however, issues of privacy, user control and authentication are paramount. Truste was conceived to address privacy issues, and Wayn.com (“Where Are You Now") enlists Truste’s technology for its global-branded travel site tapped by international visitors principally 18-25 but strong in the 35-45 age bracket.

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