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Travel industry embracing 'wisdom of friends'

Gtrot provides travelers with personalized results by destination on things to do and places to see based on their friends' activity on Facebook or Foursquare.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The travel industry is getting social.

About one-third of the 32 companies at this year’s Travel Innovation Summit at the PhoCusWright conference, an annual meeting of travel industry professionals, demonstrated products or services that prominently incorporate social media, whether users login to a travel site through Facebook or peruse restaurant recommendations from within their social network.

Websites or apps such as gtrot, FlyMuch, myTab, Jetpac, JetZet and Trippy join a growing field that already includes early innovators such as Gogobot and heavyweights such as TripAdvisor, both of which are already well-integrated with Facebook.

Travelers are more likely to trust recommendations from family and friends, said Dan Rose, vice president of partnerships and platform marketing for Facebook, just as they are more likely to trust advice from friends on which music to listen to or which movie to watch.

Facebook integration is also leading to more-engaged travelers. More than 57 million people have had their trip-planning experience personalized through Facebook, Rose said. And Gogobot users who login via Facebook are 40 percent more likely to write a review.

“We’re moving from the information web to the social web,” said Rose. “From the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends.”

For example, gtrot, this year's winner in the social media category, provides travelers with personalized results by destination on things to do and places to see based on their friends' activity on Facebook or Foursquare.

Travel advice shouldn't be dependent on how well-traveled your friends are, Zach Smith, co-founder of gtrot, told msnbc.com. Instead, gtrot aggregates travel recommendations from friends’ social network updates to provide more meaningful results.

"You don't have to wait for friends to give you advice," Smith told msnbc.com. "It's already here and personalized." 

Currently, gtrot is in beta and only accessible via invite code, but Smith says the website should be accessible to all by January.

“I think a lot of startups really want to leverage their momentum in social,” said Carroll Rheem, director of research for PhoCusWright.

Because Facebook is the dominant social media platform, she said, “now everyone’s putting Facebook out onto their site.”

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Joy Jernigan is a senior travel editor for msnbc.com. Follow her on Twitter.