angry travel planning
754 days ago
 

Sorry everyone – online travel planning still looks like it is broken

NB: This is a guest article by Tony Carne, general manager at Urban Adventures.

I’m finally getting a chance to get away for a while after a big year at work.

As a lover of travel technology and an avid reader of Tnooz and its TLabs Showcases in particular I was really looking forward to breaking out some of the great startups and their toys for travel planning.

After all – this was the year that people built stuff that would make those involved in the trip planning industry crap its pants! [Ed: perhaps not]

The selected destination is the most visited on the planet – France. We are going for a month and didn’t really have an idea of exactly what we will do. We thought we’d leave that up to the world of travel planning tech to take care of for us.

We’ve got our flights and the car is rented, so sorry to people who are solving those problems – we’ve got that sorted.

Our other limitation was that I have a PC and my wife only has an iPad but we obviously wanted to use all the tricks and tips to pull a trip together collaboratively. We both have smartphones but are not likely to use them for long range, in depth trip planning.

Issues

So off we went – first stop – well we aren’t going to Paris as we’ve been there plenty of times before and if we do, it will just be for a day to catch up with Tim from Paris Urban Adventures who can give us all the info we need on anything else we need to do.

Suddenly 90% of the solutions to travel planning seem to have become redundant as they are only covering the capital.

We attempted the social route. There are loads of social travel planning apps around so I gave a few of those a go. I signed up using FB connect with pretty much everything, let the app post to my account and shot out the word I needed help planning a trip to France.

The result… crickets.

I guess it worth mentioning that I’m a 40 year old guy with only a passing interest in what is happening on Facebook outside of our own page. I pop up a few odd photos of my daughter for far off friends and relatives to see and maybe go in to my personal account once every two weeks for a quick flick through.

Many of my friends don’t have accounts or haven’t looked at their accounts for six months or more. I may as well have just shouted out my front door as the response would have been the same.

I won’t call out the many different solutions we tried here as that is not the purpose of the article and potentially I’m not the target audience of those solutions. The purpose is to show that the opportunity and need still exists for those that can find the solution.

Why is there a problem?

Perhaps my circumstances are too extreme (mixed technology, social group not really involved in social media) or my requirements too vague (I just want to go to France, what sort of idiot doesn’t know any more than that about the trip they want to do) but they just are what they are and very little we used, made the planning experience easier.

To specifically nail down the common flaw I found with the majority of sites, solutions and apps for my situation as a first phase inspirational searcher, was that almost none even allowed search on “France”.

The search process would only allow you to pass if you chose something from a sub menu or predictive search list. I’d click a couple of options thinking there might be some gems behind those place names but that was rarely if ever the case. Mainly it was lists of hotels or feeds from Yelp or Foursquare.

One in particular allowed France and I thought they had cracked it until it landed me in Tuscany for the France search. Those sites may have been handy when I’d laid out my basic route and had a handful of specific village names but after a frustrating first encounter – I was unlikely to return.

And I wanted our trip plan to be in a single place.

(Part) Solutions?

I’m happy to mention the couple that came closest. Triposo did have a good depth on destinations in France. Some of it (the cities) was seemingly curated but a lot of it had nothing beyond the Wikitravel scrape. At least it was all in one place and easy to access.

It covers off a good portion of the world and it gave me a few town names I knew nothing about to go and do some more research on.

Mygola was the other one that gave me a patchwork itinerary to start from and links to where they were getting their information from – one of which was Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and Voila!

Here was the Aladdin’s Cave I was looking for to give me some rough jumping off points for a month in France of scenic villages and long lunches. Unfortunately for Mygola there was then no need to go back and pay to get more information.

What I expected to find from a planning perspective, I found in the Utrip’s app. If I was going to be in Paris I love the way Utrip just asked for a few different preferences and then within the blink of an eye laid out a full itinerary for whatever length of stay you wanted with route map and all.

I don’t know if the output of the actual suggestions is good but the planning style is great. If they have really good curating filter it will be a winner.

If Utrip can get enough information for more expansive journeys and allowed you to drop some of their recommendations and pin a few preferences of your own (that they could add to their own graph as they know my basic personality traits), it could be a perfect starting point for inspirational travel planning.

If it worked offline, on an iPad and had an alarm when I got within 20 kilometres of something I’d picked – I’d be in heaven.

Trazzler has some interesting content that it can push based on location as we go around for a bit of spontaneous visiting of places that we hadn’t found in other research methods and I look forward to seeing where that will take us along the way.

The events function in the app seems only to work on location so fingers crossed for the odd pie baking festival or medieval battle recreation to spring up en route.

It left me kind of stunned that there is nothing out there like what Adioso is doing in flight search that you can just type “a month in France” and be given a few different options that you can mix and match with a couple of keep or drop clicks or a preference algorithm to get the tour you want.

If you got me to click on whether I liked or disliked a few different hotel rooms, chateaux and farm houses with some pricing on them, you could give me some places to stay recommendations that I would most likely book there and then (we booked 11 places in the end, so that is commission times 11 for someone if they had the solution).

Wider dilemma

We are the fourth of our friends to undertake this type of trip in the past couple of years with only the length and some of the specific interests differing. If we add our parents and their friends to the list we are well into double figures over the past 5 years alone.

In the end we had a few of those people over for a BBQ and got out the AA atlas, which was by far the most fun part of the planning process.

We took those handful of the suggestions, plotted them on AA map and went to Airbnb and Tripping (as the best aggregator of all other accommodation rentals except Airbnb) to choose some great unique accommodation.

We’ve got a great trip now mostly organised but it didn’t happen online nor in a single place which is what I’d hoped for in a planning tool.

Presumably, now someone will tell me I just should have used Brand X – it will, or course, it will do exactly what I wanted and I’ll slap myself on the forehead and give that a try the next time a big trip rolls around.

If not, it’s still wide open for someone to consider what the actual planning process can entail. I see all the components out there separately – someone just needs to pull them together in one place across all the technology.

NB: This is a guest article by Tony Carne, general manager at Urban Adventures.

NB2: Angry planning travel image via Shutterstock.

 
 
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About the Writer :: Special Nodes

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  1. Jason Biondo

    Hi Tony,

    Points well said. We decided to build Trekeffect to help solve the problems you are facing. As all of the other people have summed up, travel planning is a really hard problem to solve. It’s a big data issue and most of these tech startups don’t seem to understand their customers. Our site isn’t even fully launched yet, but you can check us out at http://trekeffect.com or read more about us at http://www.tnooz.com/article/startup-pitch-trekeffect-attempts-tie-travel-planning-threads-together/ . We would love for you to give us a test run and work with us on making the best travel experience possible.

     
  2. Dan

    Woah guys, really interesting thoughts, I think entrepreneurs should invest more time in validating which customer segment has which specific problem and lots of vertical innovations will solve lot of pains. It just looks to me there’s the ambition to solve an entire industry problem at once.

    Thanks for your awesome overview!

     
  3. Peter

    Very good article. Unfortunately, there won’t be any solutions fast. There are so many trip planning start ups and frankly if you have been to the Innovation summit, you know that they come and go really fast. I am starting to believe that people actually do not want all this info and maybe that’s why none of these sites ever took off. Travel should remain spontaneous and personal.

    I like the social trip planning approach, but typically the friends that I would ask for advise are people I know very well and those are the ones that would answer my questions via any platform. Think about it, if you ask your 500 friends on Facebook what Museums to see in Paris, how many do you actually think will respond? Maybe 20 of your friends would actually take the time to look up the name of the hotel they stayed at 3 years ago or the museum that you should go to. Of those 20 friends maybe 18 have not even been to Paris, so you are relying on 2 guys who have been there and will take the time to tell you a few things. I bet you, before asking that question to yourself, you’ll know who those 2 guys are and you’ll give them a call :)

    Anyhow, when I travel I do it the classic way.
    Find a flight on one of the search engines (like my own Travelgrove.com)
    Search for a place (typically comparing booking.com to AirBnB and HomeAway)
    Read a simple Web-Based travel guide to know the top spots
    Finally, when at the country I use TripAdvisor to check for additional hot spots, and great restaurants

    Anyhow, for all you trip planning start-ups out there, do you think you can find a solution for all of this? Difficult I would assume… but I’d love to be proven wrong, after all if nobody will solve this, then Apple or Google will solve it with a simple mobile speech recognition system and all the info they have accumulated already.

    Cheers,
    Peter

     
  4. Michael

    I guess with an article like this it was inevitable that the comments would be swarmed with budding entrepreneurs pitching their idea and claiming it solves the current trip planning conundrum.

    The problem as I see it, will always revolve around having sufficient ‘relevant’ results. Filtering out the noise of any big data is always going to be challenging, as is finding the right balance of whether to push or pull the information to the user.

    This isn’t limited to trip planning online either…. I worked for many years on the front line as a travel agent and the problem is no different face to face (although I’m quite sure Mr Harrold will attest to this statement).

    Sure as an agent you can research information on the customer’s destination and tailor your recommendation to their specific needs, but what is to guarantee the information you just found on Katha in Myanmar [random example] is reliable? This also takes a lot of time and we live in a world of instant gratification.

    Also you need to consider that people plan in a variety of ways. Some know exactly where they are going, what they want to see, when they want to go and have a specific budget. Others have no idea other than the fact they want to get away…..most fit somewhere in the middle ground.

    So the question is, how do you build an application that can adapt to all of these scenarios while remaining fast and intuitive with sufficient relevant data without overwhelming the user?

    Sorry to be a party pooper but I think the ‘one size fits all’ travel planning app is not realistic.

     
    • Murray Harrold

      Agree totally. Would like to add that in my (high street) heyday – I had two ladies of a certain age who had been married to wealthy husbands. They had done some serious travelling. The number of times, people would come in and say “We want to go to (somewhere I had never heard of) …” and they would say “Yes, well… give that a miss, stay here… do this… avoid that” … and that information came off the top of their heads before opening any book or other information source.

      That sort of experience and knowledge is priceless. You see it very rarely, these days. I fear that soon, you will not see it at all.

      “One size fits all” is a waste of time, trouble and effort. Tech needs to take a step back and as I say… think about who is pressing the “buy” button, not who is booking.

      There is still room for a lot of innovation – a GDS (not a ruddy point and click thing) for low cost airlines being one …

       
  5. Peter Cannon

    Aloha from the opposite side of the world.

    I am stoked to find Tnooz.com after being introduced by a Board member with a link to Tony’s article. Kevin, I am enjoying your website. I am sure that you have readers that we would love to connect with.

    Tony, it looks like many are working on solving your problem but most solutions so far are local. Your best answer was to buy a guide book!

    We too are building a solution to Tony’s needs by using the good old fashioned travel map as our format. A Franko Map is a trip planner or a guide book worth of travel information and honest recommendations in captions provided on a two sided map. We are a vetted and condensed guide book. There is no advertising. The maps are sold in stores and on line.

    Hawaii is our first completed and mature travel destination. We have since expanded into Micronesia and the Caribbean (we love islands). We recently completed the official maps of Belize and Curacao. We are looking for strategic partners. Having honest “what to see and do” information and the ability to distribute maps at the destination are our primary criteria. Our end game is the solution that Tony was looking for while in France. We will then find an exit for our investors.

    Our Phase One was to build the Hawaiian Islands into a fully covered destination. You can find us in over 350 visitor stores throughout the Islands. Phase Two is to build more maps and to sell more maps in other parts of the world. Phase Three is to create information based guidebook-like web offerings with a booking engine that allows the visitor to fully understand a destination and then book their activities. We are in Phase Two and entering Phase Three with prototypes completed. This concept will be proven in Hawaii and expanded into other destinations. The adventure guides establish our credibility.

    If we had started in France, Tony’s problem would have been solved. Our solution starts with a website and ends with mobile applications and the ability to both research and book on a mobile devise. A beautiful map with icons will answer search questions like ocean activities, site seeing highlights, recommended restaurants, free things to see and do, historical sites, top tours etc.

    As a start up we are building destinations, earning revenues and we are profitable. Many are working on providing the solution that Tony looked for in France. Every solution seems local at this point. The world is a big place and Travel and Tourism is fully ten percent of the worlds GDP. So at this point please just know that a solution is evolving out of Hawaii and we would love to find strategic partners to work with us.

    Visit us at http://frankosmaps.com/ and plan your trip to Hawaii with a Franko Map. A twenty minute scan of any one of our maps will give you a very complete understanding of what to see and do here.

    A picture is worth 1000 words in any language.

    With aloha,

    Peter Cannon
    CEO

     
  6. Phil Gadzinski

    Great article Tony and basically you have described the problem statement we are working on with thubit. In a nutshell, and you have captured it, travel has become (or perhaps always was!) complex. And people don’t want to just read a Lonely Planet guidebook – they want, and you have clearly demonstrated it, all their searching and booking complexity removed and available from any device at any time and globally. Throw in the ability for their friends and wider, the social aspect, to give them ideas and suggestions and that’s the thubit business model
    We launch our fist Beta site next month and will build on from there – so will make sure we drop you an invite!

     
    • Tony Carne

      Hi Phil – definitely up for seeing what you come up with. Invite is appreciated. I’ll give a go when I get back from France ;-)

       
    • Murray Harrold

      No, it has not been clearly demonstrated. What we are seeing more of, is the “big house, small garden” syndrome – that is, “people demand big houses with small gardens” say housing developers. In reality, all developers build, are big houses on smaller plots and so, that is all one can buy. So too, in travel. Traditional Travel Agents are disappearing, which means people are compelled to use online services which, in turn , leads online developers to believe that there is this massive demand.

      The clue is in what you say and the the fact that you say “perhaps” demonstrates that one may have a rather tenuous grasp on the reality of travel. It is complex. Apart from the really easy packages and point to point stuff, there are an infinite number of ways of carving the roast. Many of these ways are complex and, indeed, there are ways of doing things which no system will ever be able to deal with – mainly because they are, shall we say “wrinkles” which, to a bit of software, would be an anathema.

      Now, what about the customers? Young people cannot afford the really complex stuff. Wealthy people get someone else to do it and elderly people prefer to talk to someone. What one is targeting is a market sector of younger, tech-savvy people who have money and are prepared to work their way through misc. sunds. websites – and then find yours. These clients are few and far between. Unless you are talking about the budget travelers, of course, yet for them, market is well supplied.

      Business types find information presentation systems helpful. Though in the main, the main GDS systems each supply highly sophisticated systems for itinerary presentation, with various links to all kinds of stuff, from hotels to where you can get a cup of tea at sparrows-fart in downtown Columbus and indeed, already link to certain apps and other devices.

      So, you are producing yet another “me-too” system.

      Travel Tech has many good ideas. Thing is, most of these ideas stem from a personal “thing” which people perceive as missing rather than from any holistic understanding of travel, the travel industry and where it is going. We have seen changes. The high street shop is fast disappearing *but* this is not replaced by tech. It is replaced by the inexorable growth of homeworkers and travel PA’s. Further, just as travel suppliers stopped commission to traditional agents, it will not need much time before suppliers realise that an online agent (or whatever you wish to call it) is also an expense they can do without. Commission stops – so too, will “bounty”. That can never happen! I hear. Ermmm…. that’s what traditional agents said. Suppliers do not owe travel tech or online retailers a living.

      Unless you are simply producing another information presentation system with a few extra bells and whistles, what travel tech needs to think about, is *not* who is buying travel – but who is pressing the “buy” button – and the two are not the same.

       
      • Phil Gadzinski

        Murray great to hear such thoughtful comments……. travel itself is not overly complex. What is challenging is finding the time to investigate, research, discover and then successfully plan and book your own trip. All the tools you will ever need are already online – the difficult is finding them all!

        And you are correct in one area – that the “high street” travel agent is disappearing. Touching on other points, as it is such a low margin game now, it only takes a mere 10% of people to stop booking with their agent, go online and the agency becomes unprofitable.

        SO what fills the void of the “experienced” agent? providing advice, where to go, what to do? For thubit, this is where the unlimited value of social media comes into play. For many people, there is knowledge within their Circle, perhaps 1 removed, of every facet of every journey they will ever need to know! A great social media based network will capture this and provide it to those who ask the questions – you just need the right platform to grow and accumulate and make available this wisdom.

        What did we do before google, wikipedia? we opened books and read. In less than 5 years people will be saying what did we do to discover travel before social media? The answer will be we went to travel agents………….

         
        • Murray Harrold

          The High Street travel agent is disappearing … the home worker and the “Travel PA” is here and strong and growing. The issue is not the sharing the information – it is who is haring the information. Or more specifically, where it is coming from. TripAdvisor as already evidenced that there are more holes in user led opinion than there are in a Republican Party manifesto.

          For agents that remain, booking stuff is a very minor part of what an agent does. An agency has not been profitable for ages, which is why they have evolved.

          I fully accept that the interweb is a great source of information and usefully aided by social media but as it grows, filtering that and tempering the information with travel agent (or should we say “persons”) knowledge will be become more, not less vital.

          Look at who is pressing the buy button – *not* the buyer.

           
          • Peter Cannon

            Murray, I am 12 hours away from you on the other side of the world. And I am agreeing with your every comment. The solution is actually low tech: A unique travel map (like a guide book but compact) providing the bulk of the 80/20 rule information with web site back up and booking capabilities.

            The Holy Grail will be real time bookings for activities and attractions, plus air, hotel and car.

            Can I send a sample to you and to Phil?

            Peter@frankosmaps.com

             
        • Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

          Respectfully I beg to differ

          It IS complicated. Can you define for me an ideal experience? I dont think anyone can. BUT A human emotion can be interpreted. Its just really hard. And so far no one has cracked it and perfectly? I dont think anyone will. But it doesnt stop us from trying.

          Murray’s sarcasm aside – he has a number of valid points. Having been a travel agent – I know a little about the process of finding and what enabling an individual to make that good decision means.

          Cheers

          Timothy

           
          • RobertKCole

            I have to agree with Timothy – Travel is perhaps the most complex product purchase one can encounter.

            The goal is clear – EVERY traveler is seeking the best possible experience at the lowest possible cost through the simplest and most efficient process.

            It’s a classic best value paradigm, but then the execution gets exceptionally messy.

            Most successful travel-related organizations attempt to reach the broadest audience they can manage (or at least their investors often want them to do so.) Unfortunately, one size does not fit all.

            That’s why good travel agents that continue to provide value and good guide books survive. It’s closing the gap between understanding highly personalized customer needs and efficiently creating an itinerary that most closely meets or, ideally, exceeds them.

            The average traveler checking 22+ websites across 10+ sessions is not even close at this point.

             
        • Michael

          The issues in the real world are:

          1. Your ‘extended’ social network may not have traveled to a destination you are looking to visit, therefore become a useless piece of the travel planning pie. (how many of your friends – or friends of friends – have been to Ghana or Micronesia for example?)

          2. Even if they can offer their own insight and suggestion to assist in the planning process what is to say that they will be willing to.

          3. They may not share similar values and interests to you. Therefore your trip expectations are not aligned.

          4. When creating this social network effect you must reach critical mass before there is any inherent value.

          …and that is really just scratching the surface. By the time all of the planets align you have gone and booked elsewhere…

           
          • Phil Gadzinski

            Michael all very valid questions – but NONE are unsolvable.
            To propose otherwise is akin to saying that the world is STILL flat.
            There is a solution to every problem -someone just has to spend the time and exert the energy to find it!

            We actually already have a solution to each one of your points after tossing these very questions, and more, up for the last two years – based on innovative technology we cant disclose yet until post go live – but will keep you and TNooz updated!

             
  7. Psycho

    By the way, have you already mentined that Trazzler isn’t working anymore?

     
  8. Doug Heinz

    Murray, maybe our Mission Statement can add some clarity to this conundrum:

    Pathwranglers pioneering global initiative has leveraged mind share with C-Level contacts from iconic, archetypal Fortune 500,000 firms to form to an evangelizing go-to-market repurposing, a sleeve of value propositions addressing top-of-mind concerns of mobile workforces with a confluence of transformational, enabling mission critical enterprise technologies using a spectrum of symbologies to iterate a convergence of game-changing application suites, field mobility solution sets and integrated system portfolios platforming on secure, capacitous, resilient, robust infrastructure optimized with modular, scaleable, integritous software-configurable digital interoperable broadband architecture with best-in-class attributes.

    Pathwrangler’s compelling ROIs evangelize bleeding edge network-enabled data capture forklift solutions, empowering stakeholders to drill down, go granular, leverage core competencies and streamline actionable synergies, maintaining lifecycle management and investment protection, enhancing supply chain integrity, while reducing and rightsizing cost and maximizing revenue.

    In short, we sell tools to Tour Operators. Call us.

     
    • Murray Harrold

      Yes. I am sure we can fully integrate this, injecting a robust response platform within the B to C framework. This will eliminate any marmite overlays and so project a holistic outlook on any mentioned (or projected) top of the mind concerns. Overall we can see a integrated chain from point of supply which will bypass any negative fold issues so presenting the end user with a full and complete event reconciliation.

       
  9. Murray Harrold

    Yes, you clearly missed the new immediate interface dynamic semantic-driven response app. This is a tried and tested app whereby you can initiate a communication session which uses voice-driven input to advise all you travel requirements. This also involves advising any on or offline travel preferences coupled with a speciality “me only” requirement sub unit which will deals with any relevant input that directs to your own specialised needs.

    A unique algorithm will ensure that results are tailored to your vacation wishes and you can then return to the app at any time and request modifications and or options. The final output will cover all aspects of your intended trip, including flights, car hire, side trips, advice on where to go and stay, along with booking of same and can insure you, advise about any visa issues – in fact, it produces a complete set of tailored specific bookings which relate specifically to your need.

    An added benefit of this app, is that, if anything goes wrong during the vacation you would have immediate access to a human interface unit which can resolve any issues or advise on action required. The app has a global reach and will, if information is not to hand, automatically re-direct you to another app or resource which will access missing information.

    You should try it.

     
    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      For the unknowing, Mr Harrold has inserted a dash of sarcasm into his response here :)

       
    • shaun hinds

      Murray, I represent a group of Valley based Funds actively taking positions in high potential consumer experience start ups. Your product is just what we’re looking for. would you consider a ‘no questions asked’ capital injection of say..$200m??

       
  10. Anshuman Bapna

    Tony, thanks for the shoutout to mygola – I completely hear you on the frustrations of travel planning. We’ve changed our product significantly keeping in mind the things you talked about – the need for itineraries to inspire you, strong collaboration etc. The new site’s on next.mygola.com and just went into private beta. If there’s interest in seeing it, please email me at anshuman@mygola.com

     
  11. Kevin May

    Kevin May

    @tony – you were absolutely right. Everyone suggesting a service for you ;)

     
    • Tony Carne

      Indeed! Buy a guide book and then go see my travel agent. Check ;-) Seriously though will check out some of these other recommendations.

       
  12. Barbora Nevosadova

    Hi Tony, thanks for the great article! Our website http://www.tripomatic.com could help you out with the planning. We do cover other cities than Paris in France, probably not to the extent you required, but that should change very soon (stay tuned for your next trip :) . However, we enable adding your own places and we show everything on the map which can speed up the planning process. Hopefully, this is what you need and with the additional content it can be the one stop planner you are asking for.

     
  13. emmanuel

    Well, adressing the trip planning problem for the B2C market is extremely difficult. There a tons of trip planning websites with cool technologies but very few (if any) are capable to thrive.. Indeed, tourist tend to plan their trips on trip advisor, OTA, travel guides tourism board’s website. Those guys have the money to do massive B2C campaigns that makes super hard for trip planning start up to survive.

    That being said, there are opportunities for the better technologies in the B2B market..

    Getting back to trip planning in France, I think our website http://www.yourtour.com/ has a very good coverage for France and we dont only focus on the main cities.

     
  14. Lynn Chou

    Hello there!

    Thank you for the wonderful article. Your needs (as well as those of many modern travelers) are what the Utrip platform strives to address. We realized that the travel industry, especially the travel planning part, is fragmented. People spend hours and hours reading travel guides, blogs, online reviews, and sites. We understand that the process of trip planning can be frustrating when you don’t know a whole lot about your destinations.

    This is exactly why we created Utrip; our goal is to help travelers collapse 20 hours of confusing research into 20 minutes of enjoyable trip planning leading to the perfectly personalized trip. We are launching more destinations as we ‘speak’. We look forward to having you visit our site (http://utrip.com) again once we launch new Italian, French & many other European cities in the near future. Cheers!

    Happy Travels! :)

     
  15. Doug Heinz

    Hi there! Great article.

    I have a company called PathWrangler. Simply put, PathWrangler makes building and storing experiences easier than ever before.

    Trip planning is like herding cats, but I think we’ve got the best answer out there. We take the conversation that normally occurs over emails, spreadsheets, PDFs, Word Docs, etc and puts it into a central place where your team/group interacts with each other from a single version of the truth. It is interactive, dynamic and a way to get everyone involved. After your trip, all that hard work turns into a wonderful trip report that stores those memories.

    A little more info on our background: we built this tool primarily for Tour Operators and Expedition Mangers as a way to run their businesses better. Their core business is running trips. We’ve opened up our app to anyone who wants to plan any kind of trip. This year, we’ve had people use our tool to climb Mt Everest, but also small operators that do walking tours in Scotland. Not only are our clients loving the tool, we’re changing the way they do business for the better.

    Regular travelers have been loving this tool as a place where everyone can put all the hard work and research they do in planning a trip to work. Stay tuned because we’re integrating this into all the social networks VERY soon.

    If anyone is interested, contact me directly at info@pathwrangler.com and I will be happy to run you through a demo, get feedback from you or just talk about it.

     
  16. Charles Ehredt

    I also think this is a great article.

    I talk almost daily to one of the companies trying to crack this puzzle and each one is focused on the 40 major cities in Europe, 10 major cities in North America, 3 (maybe 4) major cities in South America and Asia let alone the Middle East is still not on their radar screen. Given the 80/20 rule, I can´t blame them, but this doesn´t help you.

    Time will help as technology will get better and a few of these companies will survive long enough to get to second tier cities in Europe and elsewhere.

    I could of course do what I´ve done 3 times in the past year by typing out 3-4 pages of text for friends who want to start a trip in Barcelona, spend most of their time in the south of France and take a ferry from Italy back to Barcelona before flying home – but that isn´t very scalable is it?

    In any case, I think with the rapidly increasing number of open APIs, lowering cost of roaming, growing volume of tours and activities that are becoming bookable (and can be presented to travelers at a potential point of need) somebody will mash up a solution relatively soon. If they are good at it, the solution might even be presented in a way that people can intuitively navigate through options and see what others have had to say about potential destinations (as a side-bar; not in the body of content – since I often don´t want to see dozens of random comments). I might even predict that over the course of the next year, harvesting Big Data to understand your interests might become useful – and get integrated into a few of these solutions.

    But as someone said above, Lonely Planets offers pretty good value for money – and I like looking at the dozens of travel guides on my bookshelf.

    Thanks for the article ! Chuck

     
    • Tony Carne

      Hi Chuck,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Everyone seems to concentrate on the major cities I guess because that is where the most open API data is .

      I think this leads to the potential of someone instead concentrating on the niche of longer trips in popular destinations (France, Italy). If it were me, I’d use rental accommodation as the primary data set for destinations because (i) accommodation rentals tend to be in random places, little villages and also main cities and (ii) accommodation for this type of holiday is the make or break factor and can help determine the route – I’ll stay 20km away from what I want to “see” if the accommodation there is amazing.

      Just a thought. THack anyone?

      Cheers,

      Tony.

       
  17. Bob Dana

    Great article.

    You might try our iPad app, Tripshare. Available in the iTunes App Store (free to download). We’ve got a full-up itinerary planning tool using content from Expedia, Fly.com, Viator, Trazzler (now called Openplac.es), Foursquare and others. We’re continuing to improve it as we work toward a public launch later this year.

    And yes, we resolve “France” in our search box.

     
  18. Jeremy Head

    I’m with Daniel. The resource exists – you don’t need a battery or an expensive piece of technology. It’s made with this amazing stuff called paper… incredibly easy to read and the browsing experience is second to none. No ads to get in the way and no need for an internet connection. I’m pretty sure this concept (it’s called a guidebook by the way) will catch on big time.

     
  19. Evan Konwiser

    Out of curiosity, how much would you have been willing to pay for such trip plan?

     
    • Tony Carne

      Hi Evan,

      As an idea, Mygola gave me a rough itinerary for nothing and then the option to pay what you want for every specific question you wanted to ask. Commissions on the accommodation we booked would have run to about 80 Euros. Pie baking festival and medieval battle recreation happening en route and in October gets us to a whole other level :-)

      Cheers,

      Tony

       
  20. Daniel Desjardins

    How much is your time worth? A $25 guidebook would have provided most of your needs and saved you a lot of time!

     
    • Tony Carne

      Hi Daniel,

      This is true but I thought someone might have come up with something more current, digital and intuitive and I personally wanted to dig a bit deeper into what many in the travel tech industry were up to than just reading their Tlabs article in Tnooz. Given 2 or 3 new solutions pop up a week – I thought there would be something out there that had cracked it already.

      If guidebooks are the future of tech travel trip planning solutions, the editors of Tnooz might run out of things to talk about?

      Cheers,

      Tony.

       
      • Kevin May

        Kevin May

        @tony – we’d have lots to write about with the demise of travel tech trip planning, don’t you worry…

         
 
 

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