WAYN wants to be the social travel comeback kid in 2013
Travel social network WAYN has been doing some soul-searching in recent months, chiefly: “How do you exist in the world of Facebook?”
The result is a planned relaunch of its service in the coming weeks having rebuilt its platform from the ground up.
Although the UK-based company, founded in 2003, has often touted its critical mass (21 million registered users including six million active) as a strength it is now looking to re-engage with its not so active membership base.
The new platform is more visually based with a Pinterest-like feel and enables users to add photos, tips, places and ask questions of other members.
C0-founder Peter Ward says the platform will allow users to share experiences, meet people and discover the best places to go as well as what to do once you get there.
The service will be in beta as the company continues to test new features although some of it has already undergone user testing via industry partners and about 1,000 active users.
WAYN (Where Are You Now?) will continue to partner with travel and tourism organisations around the world and signed a partnership with India Today Group in December.
While the site does not offer a booking engine, Ward says it is looking at further transactional to help users discover hotels and flight options as well as further social media integration.
“We’re 10% on the journey of what we’re building and learning from people using it. We’re launching as a beta because it’s not about alienating existing users but bringing in stuff that did not exist before and the potential to find value for people that did not use the service before.”
Interesting that he uses the word ‘alienating’ when two years ago WAYN deviated from its initial path to unveil a dating service which Ward says put off an “important part of the database which was not interested in meeting people”.
“To address that we’ve come full circle. We’ve become profitable and grown massively in traffic and we’re now in a position to reinvest in a platform.”
A user reward scheme is also planned which will more around ranking and influence rather than the badges and honours used by services such as FourSquare.
Fellow co-founder Jerome Touze has worked mainly in the WAYN office in South Africa over the past year, while it retains a sizeable development team in Poland.
Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.
In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.
Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.