Candy cane themed visuals were overshadowed by listicles about winter and beach destinations.
National Geographic Traveler can no longer rely on its parent brand's recognition because social media is leveling the playing field for younger online based publications.
Talking to users should be easy for travel media brands, but a few have managed to dominate the conversation (like LP and Travel Channel) while others surprise despite their size (like Fathom).
Google Maps is the world's biggest funnel to destination-specific information, and it only makes sense to focus content on those users. Whether or not Zagat's distinctive ratings system and brand voice will continue to rise to the top remains to be seen.
The unmentioned part of the BI story is that Google quickly felt buyer's remorse over Zagat purchase, especially after the Frommer's deal happened. Google paid a fraction of the cost for the latter and got much more content, too.
It's likely the search giant will add Frommer's content into the mix once it gets normalized, if it hasn't already under Zagat branding.
Google's at the mall now, but perhaps it will try direct-mail and billboards next to prod people to write restaurant and hotel reviews for Google+.
As Google adds one Frommer's review after another to its database it's realizing that it got a great deal for $23 million and totally screwed by it's Zagat acquisition.
With three billion check-ins, Foursquare has a Fort Knox of data about consumers' retail habits, but a sizeable portion of its 30 million tips about places leave a lot to be desired. Foursquare will have to do a lot of partnering or get the check-in crowd into review-writing mode to improve its search results.
Although Google is a giant, its skills at creating and managing content on its own are easily some of its weakest. How well it's able to improve the Zagat mobile experience is the first big step it's taken since the acquisition.