2015 was an interesting year for Travelindicator. I started the year running the show by myself, and then early on Nik came on board.
We have been going hard at it since, fine tuning the site's functionality and adding new destinations throughout the year. At year end we were at roughly 960 destinations, meaning that we added a total of +350 reviews over the whole year!
That also means that we have made another year of serious progress in mapping the world's travel destinations and are reaching 1,000 places in our database. Each of these is mapped by 23 travel themes, meaning that there are now nearly 23,000 data points helping potential travelers to connect the dots.
An ever more complete resource
Coverage in individual countries is on the rise as well. Take for instance the United States where we are now at 72 destinations. Or China at 45, Japan at 28 or Italy at 42... And are you looking for a paradise destination? We've got 234 of those...
In September Nik and I met up and decided that the focus going forward would be on three things: clarity, simplifcation and social.
We decided to remove a lot of unnecessary clutter from the site, hopefully making it easier to understand. We want it to be clear that the purpose here is only one thing: for you to discover new travel destinations. Anything else is secondary.
One of the biggest aids in discovering new destinations are the site's social aspects. You could always review destinations, but now you can also share them with each other, build itineraries and publish them, and much faster save them to your personal lists. You can now browse others' itineraries, see which destinations, users, itineraries are most popular, and so on. We will keep making strides on simplifying the site.
We launched SixTripz.com
In the second half of the year we launched SixTripz, a site based on the Travelindicator database that gives six instant travel ideas for when you are really out of inspiration. Refresh as often as needed, until you find your dream destination :-)
Have a review for us?
Recently we have started incorporating reviews by our visitors. These aren't much work, just 3-4 paragraphs about a place you visited plus initial ratings on 23 themes will do. An example is Malapascua (Philippines) which was done by Lara. If you have a quick review of an uncovered destination to add, please get in touch and we will be happy to get it added to the site, including an attribution and link back to your blog/site.
There are plenty of romantic ways to discover travel destinations (after browsing Lonely Planet guides for 28 hours over 5 bottles of red wine you may have finally decided where to go, or it could be that backpacking friend who after 5 beers finally divulges his best kept travel secret to you), but I don’t subscribe to any of them.
It’s probably my day job as a quantitative analyst in a big name financial institution that makes me like this. But I like to think that what we are dealing with here is an issue of information asymmetry in the travel industry and a less than clear presentation of data where it is made available.
There are endless travel blogs that give you new travel ideas every day, and every point of even the most minor significance in any small village anywhere in the world now has its own TripAdvisor page, just like every country on earth seemingly has a Lonely Planet guide. But how do you see the forest for the trees?
Travelindicator probably seems like your usual travel website. But while we may look somewhat generic from the outside, our real product is the data that drives the site. Over the past 1.5 years or so, we have taken a systematic approach to mapping worldwide travel destinations along no less than 23 travel themes. A travel theme can be anything from “beach and seaside”, “romantic” to “lakes and rivers”, and it is our philosophy that those themes are not a black or white phenomenon like they are on other travel websites. So we (and our users) score them on a scale of 1 to 100.
What happens next is that we couple it with geocoding of every travel destination and an average estimated hotel price, and in an instant we can tell you where:
The nearest beach destinations to you are
The nearest affordable beach destinations to you are
The nearest affordable beach destinations which also feature some mountains to you are
The nearest affordable romantic beach destinations which also feature some (but not a lot of) mountains to you are
The nearest affordable romantic beach destinations which also feature some (but not a lot of) mountains, and where you can do shopping, go out and check out some cultural hotspots to you are
Now it is no longer a matter of spending endless hours reading up on travel blogs in the hope of discovering that perfect destination. With Travelindicator it essentially just boils down to a database query. No longer are there secret destinations you won’t know about, as with us they just become a line in the database. Not romantic, but a crucial service in a fast globalising world where more and more people can and do travel.
Of course we have a bit of a romantic side to us as well. So if the above still does not satisfy your thirst for travel inspiration, you may want to check out our newly launched side project Sixtripz. On loading, it presents you with 6 quick trip ideas on 7 travel themes. Loaded randomly from nearly a 1,000 destinations in 188 countries. A bit like every other travel blog.
Last weekend was quite a momentous one for the Travelindicator crew. It was the first time that the two co-founders (Nik and Jaap) of Travelindicator actually met up in person.
Of course we have had our fair share of Skype sessions in addition to being in almost daily contact as we worked on the project, but we felt the time was right to bring our Singapore-based and Germany-based founders together for a weekend of brainstorming in sunny Singapore.
We concluded that in order to get the message of Travelindicator across better, going forward we will focus on 3 key themes: clarity, simplificationandsocial. Here's what we talked about in more detail.
Recap: what is Travelindicator?
First, we spent a few moments brainstorming about summing up Travelindicator as succinctly as we could:
Keywords: Travel. Social. Discovery. Explore.
Tag: Travelindicator: Explore further.
Story: Travelindicator is a destination discovery tool that helps you discover and explore your world
Nik and I have always felt that there is a very natural location for Travelindicator on the travel services spectrum.
You have your booking websites that you use to arrange your flights and hotels, and you have your Lonely Planets, Rick Steves and Rough Guides for getting in-depth information for destinations. What does not exist however, outside of Travelindicator, are services that let you discover new places.
Sure enough you can find plenty of "top 10" lists once you start Googling, but a service that actually really maps the travel profile (location, themes, weather, cost) of hundreds if not thousands of destinations, and lets you search through them? We have not come across any good ones, and that's why have built one.
What will we do differently?Expect more emphasis on the core idea of Travelindicator ("a destination discovery tool that helps you discover and explore your world") going forward.
As part of clarifying our product and explaining where we sit on the travel spectrum, we also realised we are going to have to get rid of some clutter. Feedback we received from users once they started browsing a destination page was often along the lines of "you should really add more information on X or review more attractions for this city", etc.
But that is not the point of Travelindicator, the point is that we just made you aware of the existence of that city! Now you can save it to your must-see, should-see or might-see list, or even create an itinerary. And then keep browsing.
What will we do differently?We will work on streamlining our interface and simplifying the website, rather than adding more and more complex features as we go along. Less is more.
One area where we will keep innovating and pushing is social. I realise that for many startups social is added as a gimmick, or as a must-have in order to build a user base and so on.
We are convinced that Travelindicator is different. We started adding basic social features this year which allow users to message each other, share and publish itineraries, recommend places to each other and so on.
We envision a future for Travelindicator where entire families or groups of friends are browsing together to discover destinations and build itineraries for their next trips.
What will we do differently?There will be increased focus on the social aspects of Travelindicator. Not as a gimmick, but because it will make planning your trip that much easier.
One of our favorite hidden features at Travelindicator is the weather overview for all your saved destinations in myTI. Once you have registered an account with us and saved some places as must-see, should-see or might-see destinations, you get to see the weather prediction over the next two weeks for all of those saved destinations in one handy overview.
When we say weather prediction, what we really mean is the interval of the maximum temperature in a given destination over the next two weeks. So if the lowest predicted maximum temperature is 18℃ and the highest is 25℃, we will tell you that you can expect the temperature to fall anywhere in between those.