Why games can work for travel brands: Traveler IQ, four years on
A fair amount of chatter at conferences these days is around the idea of adding some form of gaming into the online travel experience, as a way of engaging further with users.
But while both of these are relatively new products, one of the first hugely successful, social media-led and Facebook-hosted games was a travel-related effort.
And now, over four years on since its launch, Traveler IQ still manages to attract hundreds of thousands of players every single month.
In short: users had to pinpoint the location of a city by planting flags on a map, getting higher scores for accuracy and speed. Each round got progressively harder in terms of the locations and length of time given to stick the flag on the interactive map.
Users were encouraged to register their scores, challenge their friends on Facebook and, most importantly, spread the word.
And that is pretty much what happened.
Travelpod became synonymous with the game, arguably more so than the other way round. The game became a true viral hit, leading the top application charts on Facebook for months at a time.
Here are some stats, covering the period since its launch in the summer of 2007 to March 2011:
- 4.75 million registered users.
- 58.6 million games played.
- Approximately 672 million total minutes played (around 1,278 years).
- Translated into seven languages.
- Embedded versions on 2,500 other websites.
In February this year, almost four years on since its launch, Traveler IQ is still going strong with 700,000 plays and 1.25 million views.
And, inevitably, a game with this kind of impact created a loyal following.
Travelpod founder and general manager Luc Levesque says the most addicted player completed over 70,000 games, with another 11 geography obsessed users having completed more than 10,000 rounds each.
Some fans even created videos to show users how to find some of the trickier locations in the most difficult levels at the end of the game, while almost 15,000 others created their own versions of the game.
So, a lesson from which to learn: while Farmville may be simplistic graphically, underneath the hood the game is actually quite complex in terms of its functionality and premise.
Traveler IQ, however, is simple at almost every level. And this is probably why, in those early days of Facebook, it achieved so much traction but still resonates with so many today.
Kevin is senior editor and a co-founder at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and publishes his first book - a biography about Depeche Mode - in early-2017.