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.
Travelindicator was never meant to be an isolated and static website. Right from the start we planned to be a social platform for travelers to connect and discover new destinations. It just took us a little while to get there!
Allow us to introduce to you Travelindicator's new messaging, itinerary publishing and user profile system, which will make the whole Travelindicator user experience even better.
We have added user profiles (such as the one below) that display basic information about all of our users. It shows you which places they have saved, what itineraries they have created and which other Travelindicator users have liked their account.
A like may happen if you know a person (let's say if it's your brother, wife or a good friend's account) or if you feel that a user is creating some awesome itineraries and you want to keep track of their latest moves.
You will come across links to user profiles all over the place, for instance when a user leaves a review on a destination or when a user has saved or included a place in one of their itineraries.
The most fun part about user profiles is that we use all of your stored destinations to build a profile that tells you what kind of traveler you are. Whether you for instance are a family person, an adventurer, a thrill seeker and so on!
At Travelindicator you could always store itineraries, but now we have added the possibility to publish them. What this means is that you can build your personal holiday program ("Summer holiday 2015" or "Japan trip January 2016"), find destinations you want to check out and store them to the itinerary, and finally publish them.
Upon publishing they get a link (such as the one below) and you can share them with your friends, colleagues, parents, or whoever... You can add some comments to it to give them further pointers. Pretty neat, right?
Finally, we felt that a site can't truly be social without letting our users communicate with each other. Found that person who seems to like all the same places in Korea as you do? Reach out to him and see if he has any tips for you. Or just tell your friends about those shiny new destinations you just came across!
We are really excited to announce that we have just added our 700th location to Travelindicator.com. Having just added an extra destination (making it 701) we can now say:
'Travelindicator.com inspires & informs travellers on more than 700 destinations!'
We will continually include more locations to make your experience increasingly rewarding. The best part is the more destinations we add the more powerful our highly tuned search features and algorithms are in assisting you pick your next travel destination.
Here are 7 randomly chosen destinations - these were selected by hitting refresh on the home page which shows a different featured destination each time - click on any to go through to the page.
Let us know - via comment or email, any destinations you would like to see added to our database; do a quick search on our website to see if it is already on there and if not we will add it just for you as soon as we can.
Thank you for enjoying our site, we look forward to further serving you with more useful Travel indicators.
Take a good look at the above image, which is the layout of a standard search result here at Travel Indicator. It's quite obvious that it gives you a thumbnail of the destination, a description and a price, but what does it all really mean? Let's get into some of the things that may not be immediately obvious, shall we? From left to right, top to bottom:
1. Thumbnail with indicator of current price level - As you might know we download hotel prices every few hours for all destinations where those are available, and compute an average nightly hotel rate from that. Based on that you can see that staying in city X will, on average, be cheaper than city Y. What's more, the red or green button hovering over the thumbnail shows you whether the location is currently (i.e. 2 weeks from now) cheaper or more expensive than it has historically been. You can imagine London at Christmas being significantly more expensive than it is during September, for instance!
2. Tags - If a destinations scores more than 50% on a certain theme, we tag it with that and show it at the end preceded by a #. Click on these to see more destinations matching this theme.
3. Similar and nearby places - We link to this from the destination overview pages itself, but also straight from the search results. Let's say Barcelona shows up in your results and you love it but have already been there, so you're looking for something similar. Just click the "[Similar]" link and we'll present you with the 25 closest matches.
4. Current relative price level - +102%. We store the average hotel price on daily basis and compare each destination's current price to it's historical levels. In the [102%+] you see above, you can see that Perast is currently twice as expensive as normal! You might want to pick another time to go.
5. Saved destinations - We have saved the above location as a "must-see". For you it might be none at all, or maybe a might-see or should-see. In any case, once you save it, this flags it in our search results.
6. Historical average and current temperature - 13°C and 4°C-10°C. We know what the weather has historically been in a place and show you the monthly average. But in addition to that we show you the actual range of maximum temperatures for the next 14 days. Above you can see that actual weather is slightly cooler than what it has historically been in Perast.
7. Historical rainfall - 165mm. Self explanatory.
8. Altitude - 365m. Self explanatory.
9. Distance to you - 7287km. This is based on the home city that you have selected.
10. Cost - €180 and €801+. The first is the current hotel cost. The latter is the estimated return travel cost from your city to this destination based on Rome2Rio.
Travel Indicator has quite a bit of functionality under the hood that may not be immediately obvious to all of our users who are just starting to use the website. One of those functions we would like to highlight today is the ability to search and filter down the hundreds of holiday destinations that we cover on their weather.
Simply put, if you are looking for a summer travel destination and want to avoid places with too much rain or lower temperatures, you can filter those out. Or if you are looking for warmer weather in winter or colder weather in summer, or cold destinations in winter with a high chance of precipitation... you get the idea.
Better yet, all of this can be combined with the regular searches on themes. So if you are looking for a mountainous destination in a remote area, but you want to have a good chance of warm weather, Travel Indicator enables you to do so. Finally, besides historical temperatures we also show you the current 14 day weather outlook for every destination. We download the maximum temperatures for the next 2 weeks and show you the range of them below every destination. In summary it looks something like this:
Remember that filtering down on expected temperature and rainfall works in combination with the selected months of your search. If you search in August, we will combine it with the data for August. Change your search to December and that is what you get.
Just checking in to let you know that we have added a small new feature to the site that we thought might be of use to some of you: price rankings for all destinations per continent. This feature allows you to quickly get a rough idea of a visit to which locations comes at a premium, and which are relatively cheaper than others to visit.
Of course there were ways to get this information out of Travel Indicator before we added this functionality, but we still thought it would be handy to have an overview - that is live updated on daily basis - in one place.
We are not done with adding new features yet. What about the ability to check out a travel destination and get suggestions for similar destinations (nearby) that are cheaper? We are working on that. Till later!
Hi all, we were aware of the fact that until now the estimated cost of flight prices was not all that accurate. It is and remains an estimate, so some deviation from actual prices is to be expected, after all the pricing models of carriers are intransparant and it is hard to predict whether a budget airline will fly on a certain route. Just to name some issues.
Having said that, we do want the figures we show to be useful. If for instance we quote an expected ticket price of $500 and it ends up being $550, we would be content with that. What matters is that it wasn't $800, if you get our point. Fortunately we get plenty of data in that allows us to make a better estimate of these prices. We have run a regression analysis on these and added our findings into the website. When comparing it with actual quotes of airlines and the estimate of Rome2rio we have come nearer to what it should be.
Note that this does not just affect the ticket prices (which are now quoted at the bottom of each search result), it also affects the budget categories (such as this one) where we actually combine the live calculated average hotel prices of locations with an estimated return fare, giving you a complete picture of how much a weekend stay in that place would cost you right now.
Travel Indicator is rapidly expanding its coverage, and we are now nearing 450 travel destinations. One of the goals we target when building our database of destinations is to achieve good or near-perfect coverage of all major holiday destinations, while at the same time adding in many smaller or lesser known cities and regions as well to keep things surprising and interesting for you.
So while in France most attention will be given to cities like Paris or Marseille, we will add plenty of small towns like Gordes or Briançon in as well. You know how the internet is stuffed with lists like "the top x places to visit in y"? You can see Travel Indicator as your dynamic source of such lists. Destinations can be explored by themes, presets or tags* or simply by exploring them all at once and filtering them down from there.
Why you should consider registering
The main benefit of registering is to be able to store locations. In your location results and destination pages you are able to store locations as "should see", "might see" or "should see". In your "My TI" section, you are then able to refer to all locations you have previously stored. In addition to that, you are able to create itineraries ("Summer vacation 2015") and allocate locations to that.
An additional benefit of this is that we keep track of, and show you, how expensive or cheap hotel stays in locations are at the moment. This can look something like the following, where a user has stored a number of must-see locations, and the red and green bullets indicate whether that location is currently (exactly 2 weeks from today) cheap or expensive to book a hotel in.
*Difference between themes, presets and tags
The difference between themes, presets and tags may be slightly confusing. At Travel Indicator we let users vote on 23 attributes for each location, for instance on whether a location has beaches or whether it is adventurous. Based on this we deduce themes. The theme Beach and seaside gives you an overview of all locations where the score for beaches is fairly high, say 50%-60%. If you were to go to the regular search and only set the filter for beaches to 50% and higher, you would get pretty much the same results.
Presets are essentially combinations of themes. A preset like Romantic city trips shows you all locations that score high on "Urban" and "Romance".
Finally, tags are a different beast altogether. These can range from Diving and snorkeling to Awe inspiring nature and are more of a freestyle labeling of whatever 5 tags we think are most relevent to a location.
Two new features and better presentation of some existing ones have been added to Travelindicator.
The first new feature is travel cost. We have established a link with Rome2Rio to give you an indicative city-to-city (or practically door to door, if you wish) price next to each location. On the left side you see an example of how this looks for one location (Amsterdam). The left indicator shows the average hotel rate for 2 weeks from now, while the left shows you the return fare to and from your base location (Glasgow, Scotland in this case). Clicking the link gives you a breakdown of the €220 fare, which in this case consists of €14 for trains in Scotland, €200 for a return flight Glasgow-Amsterdam, and €6 for trains in Amsterdam.
Under the return fare indicator we show you some extra info; the fare for a single trip as well a the indicative fare for a return trip and stay of 2 nights based on average hotel rates. Note that flight fare information is not necessarily live but is indicative based on Rome2Rio's algorithms as described here.
In a similar vein, we now show you the duration of travelling from A to B, again calculated by Rome2Rio. The 4.3 hours breaks down to 23 minutes by train in Scotland, 16 minutes in Amsterdam, 1:30 hours by plane and the remainder (roughly 2.5 hours) taken up on both airports.
Pretty useful stuff, we thought. To make the location dashboard complete, we have improved the presentation of whether a location's hotels are currently (i.e. for bookings 2 weeks from now) discounted or at a premium, and what the expected weather (maximum temperature ranges) is like.
I have been busy in the past weeks - in preparation for taking a while off as I am about to become a father! - and have added 3 new features to Travelindicator that I believe will be very useful to our users going forward. They are: weather forecast, altitude and percentage price changes. Let me explain how they work and what their use is.
Weather forecast - Right from the start we have incorporated historical average temperatures and precipitation for every month of the year and every location. That gives a pretty solid idea of what the weather should be like when booking a long-term holiday, however for the shorter term it does not really suffice. Using data from openweathermap.org we now source expected maximum temperatures for the coming 14 days for every location. We take the lowest and highest (maximum) temperatures in the range and show you that in the results overview. You can also sort any page with results by forecast 14 day temperatures from low to high and vice versa.
Altitude - Not entirely sure how useful this will be, but it completed our static information for each location. In the results overview we now show you the altitude for every location, and needless to say you can filter on altitudes low to high or high to low. Apparently the highest places we currently incorporate are Mont Blanc, La Paz and Uyuni.
% price changes - As you know we source average hotel rates from Expedia on daily basis. As we store these prices, we thought it might be useful to give you an indication of how far above or below average a currently stated rate is. You can see these on the location pages below the nightly hotel rate. This for instance tells us that - as of writing - Madrid is 16% above its historical average rate. Do note that the averages are calculated from the moment we start incorporating them in the database. For most of the locations this will be about half a year to a few months.
We have recently updated the frontpage of Travelindicator a bit to make it more clear to you what we stand for. You will likely have come across the following, which is what we like to call our "Five Pillars".
Whereas other travel websites may at most give you travel ideas based 2 dimensions or so (Beaches in Asia? Culture in Europe? There you go.), Travelindicator works along the 5 dimensions of distance, weather, cost, surroundings and themes:
Let's give you an example of how you can maximise the 5 dimensions above to your benefit. Essentially each search starts with deciding whether you want to look for travel destination in a radius around your current location (or nearest city), or whether you have already roughly determined the region or country you want to travel to and just want to see what's on offer there.
Step 1 (distance): Let's assume you will be traveling to Berlin and are looking to make a European trip that goes anywhere in a 2,750km radius around that.
Step 2 (weather): You want decent weather, let's say temperatures above 10ºC and rainfall below 130mm. Note how the weather filter applies to temperature and rainfall in April, as that is the basic setting and the period in which we are searching.
Step 3 (cost): Your budget is not minimal, but you can do without staying in hotels in places likes Monaco which will probably cost you an arm and a leg. So you select an average nightly hotel rate (measured across all available hotels with 2 stars and up) of $275.
Step 4 (surroundings): You may land at Berlin, but you care nothing for Europe's big cities. What you are after are smaller towns that have at least some form of greenery around them. So you set "urban" at a max. of 30% and "forests" at a minimum of 30%.
Step 5 (themes): Having selected all this, you still have a few more criteria you want your holiday destinations to meet. They should offer some history, architecture, culture or art and be family oriented. So no Spanish party islands into the mix, please.
Alright, we know we should be focussing on getting many more places into Travelindicator rather than doing small technical enhancements instead. And honestly, we are doing both as hard as we can. The latest addition is something we think will grow out to be a useful one: tags.
It's fairly simple really, as we add new locations we will be giving them specific tags like "vineyards", "rocks", "medieval castles" or "world war 2". You can click through on these tags and get other locations that have this tag assigned to them.
Looking for a relaxing trip to European vineyards, looking for great spots to go hiking, or are you simply out to visit some historical sites relevant to one of the wars? Travelindicator has you covered.
Click on one of the tags you see listed with a location, or simply on "Tags" on top of the website to reach an overview with currently available tags.
If you click the Budget menu option above, you get to see something like the following:
The "hotel only" option is straightforward: it shows all cities where average nightly hotel rates (2 to 5 stars) fall within a price range. Filter down on those between $0 and $100 and you will be shown locations like Dubrovnik, Taichung and Berlin. Filter down on those above $350 and it's Tokyo or Bora Bora. This looks a bit like the following:
This states the hotel price (€118), and an estimated flight price (€142). While at some stage we would love to incorporate real average ticket prices into Travelindicator, for the time being that is not technically feasible. We could have chosen to omit it altogether and function solely as a hotel price aggregator, but that is no fun is it?
So we scoured the web and came across an article at the Rome2Rio Blog. They found that air fares could be linearly approximated by the formula ticket price = $50 + 0.11 * mile. We have slightly tweaked it, but essentially we do something similar. And we find it to provide a very reasonable approximation. Its accuracy will fluctuate, but Beijing to New York is never going to cost $200.
The "Hotels (2 night) + Flight" is based on all of the above. It uses the estimation of the costs for a round trip flight, and adds to that two times the average rate for a hotel. This gives you something like this:
Note how the hotel price (€118) is unchanged, but we now also show an estimated total trip cost (€434). With this you will be perfectly able to work out the difference in cost of a city trip to Berlin or to London.
Some things to clarify: If you are staying for more than two nights, we are sorry, but you will have to do your own calculation! Using the regular search you can do just that. Also, all of this is based on your location. If you load the site from different countries, you will get different results! Of course, you can manually adjust. The city you stay in impacts results and you will have to select it by yourself.
As we have stated before, Travelindicator started out of a conviction that something was missing in the land of travel websites. On the one hand, the internet is filled with manygreattravelblogs giving general traveling tips or zooming in on very specific locations that they have discovered, inspiring us all. On the other hand there are the Trip Advisors and Lonely Planets of this world. Their role is to give you all the miniscule details once you have picked the destination. Where to stay, what sights to see, what to eat, that sort of stuff.
All of that definitely serves its purpose and it would not be an understatement to say the supply of such sites is somewhat saturated. But what website do you go if:
1. You want to travel and know what you want out of a holiday but have no idea where to go? (example: you want to make a city trip to a desination that scores high in the areas of culture and architecture) 2. You have no idea which destination you will be able to afford? (example: you have a budget of $500, both for getting there and staying the night in a hotel) 3. You have no idea which destinations are nearest to you? (example: you want to go somewhere which is in driving distance, 500km or 250 miles) 4. You have no idea what the weather will be like? (example: you want to go on a beach holiday but prefer not to get soaking wet from rain while chilling out on the beach)
That's where Travelindicator now comes in and why we exist. We categorise locations by (monthly) temperature and rainfall, by exact location, by price (live average hotel prices per city and estimated flight prices) and by attributes.
What we mean by attributes are the qualities of each location (as voted for by you, the users), of which there are quite a few, for instance: Adventure, Culture, Beaches, Mountains, Deserts, Eating and Going Out, Shopping... Mix and match as you like, take away your results and make a choice! Or go ahead and book that hotel on Travelindicator instantly :-)
Besides rapidly adding more and more locations (nearing 300 now), we are also working hard on adding new features to make Travel Indicator ever more useful for its users. Earlier this month we already described a new feature that includes an estimate of the cost of flight ticket prices. Meanwhile we have also added that feature for easy access to the "Budget" menu tab, so that you can instantly see where you could travel for various price buckets from your starting destination:
Of course we kept working hard, and today we are proud to present the next new feature: itineraries. To access this new feature you will have to register an account, and access your "My TI" page. Here you will first of all find an overview of all places you have previously stored as must/should/might see locations, as well as easy access to all the reviews you have left behind. The new feature allows you to group locations together into an itinerary. So if you're looking for places to go to during your trip to Nepal, or during your next summer holiday, this is it. An overview of one such trip may look like this:
Creating a new itinerary or removing old ones can be done straight from your My IT page. Adding locations to your itinerary is done from the location pages and may look like this:
I will be honest with you. This site is a perfect reflection of my own core interests. The first interest is probably our common denominator: I like to travel (my most recent trip in fact was last weekend, to Phuket in Thailand). The second interest is probably more specific to me: I like to puzzle, analyse data and present it to others in a format that can be of use to them.
Travel Indicator already offered you the ability to filter down on places based on distance, weather and features (mountains, shopping, culture, etcetera). It also allowed you to filter based on the average price of an overnight stay in a city, giving you an indication of how expensive a stay in a certain place would be. Today we have made a start with an additional piece of the puzzle: an estimation of the cost to get there by airplane. Imagine if you would have a database showing you up-to-date costs of flying to and staying in a certain place, and then allowing you to filter down on what those places have to offer travellers. That is what Travel Indicator has already become, and it is easy to see how useful and exciting this will be to many people!
Access the feature by showing some results, then filtering down on Total cost.
Now, hold your enthusiasm for a second. The flying costs are an estimate, and a crude estimate at that. We have looked at historical data for flight tickets, set them off against distance and come up with a simple formula that reflects historical price levels. This is far from an absolute truth, as there will be discounts and upswings and downswings in prices. Yet it should be obvious that generally speaking there is some relation between distance flown and tickets prices. This general relationship is what we are trying to incorporate, and on the whole it is expected to work better on long distances. In due time we will try to link up with a major flight ticket site to give you a real actual reflection of ticket prices. Stay tuned!
P.S. Meanwhile we have also silently added support for some additional currencies: EUR, GBP, AUD and CAD.
We are hard at work to improve Travel Indicator. Better performance, more locations, better compatibility with mobile devices, and so on. One part of the functionality of this website that we have so far not discussed are the "Presets" which you can load in the menu above.
Just to recap, you probably already know that we have the regular search functionality (accessible from the Home page) which gives you the ability to filter out any specific holiday criteria that you may be after. For instance if you are after a holiday with some adventurous element, mountains and beaches with warm temperatures within a 1000 kilometer radius, this is your spot to start closing down on places.
Next to the normal search we have the themes. Here you will find all locations that score 60% and upwards on a specific theme like adventure, romance or history. If you for instance think of Rome, you would obviously associate that with history. We want to aggregate other places like these under a single header. Note that once here, you can still filter on weather and distance.
Then there are the surroundings, which are a kind of themes as well but more focussed on the surroundings and environment of a place. Summarising, again for scores of 60% and higher, whether a place has beaches, forests, mountains, etc. For instance, if you consider a location like Boracay, it is pretty much a given that you associate it with beaches. We wanted a convenient way to group all of these places together, and the themes are it.
Finally, allow us to introduce the presets, coming in 18 different flavours as shown below this post. The idea behind the presets is basically to give you suggestions on holiday combinations that might appeal to you. In a sense adding some extra granularity to the themes and surroundings, and often combining them, or combining them with the weather. Give them a try:
You might have read our article on why we initially set up Travelindicator. In a nutshell the reason was that the process of picking travel destinations remained tedious despite thousands of websites trying their hardest to supply us with detailed information for every location.
But the information they gave us tended to be displayed in a most convoluted fashion, and there was no service available putting it all together in a clear and efficient data-driven overview. The way we felt was: "Just skip the nonsense already: just tell me which place has mountains, great beaches and good weather!" That, in summary, is what we are trying to build here.
Now you understand what spawned us, it may be useful to tell you a bit about what our "Grand Plan" is, where are we going with this website?
As you have likely seen, we have been steadily adding locations on practically a daily basis. Make no mistake about it: this will be an ongoing process from now on. Every location has to be sufficiently researched - preferably by those of us who have traveled there before - and documented. These locations are the absolute core of Travelindicator. Travelindicator should be a database that allows you to search and to mix and match along any dimension that you think might be useful. We should be able to show you all major cities in Europe, or all places with beaches and great nightlife in a 500 kilometer radius around you!
We realise that to really gain traction with this, the database needs to be sizeable. Not with some hundreds of locations like right now, but rather with thousands of them! We are convinced that the better our coverage becomes, the more useful the site will be. Are you travelling to China and only want to travel to non-adventurous (dare we say a bit less exciting, if that's your thing!) places? We should be able to list which places fit the bill. Do you want to zoom in on a specific Chinese region? Can-do. Like we wrote earlier, this will be an ongoing venture, but we have full confidence in the idea.
At the same time, we very much want you, the user, involved! We might give you the basics about a small fishing village in the south of Ireland, but perhaps you have traveled there yourself and can add much more detail - what's nice and what is not, what are good places to eat, and so on. If other users find your post useful, they will upvote it and your post will be appearing towards the top.
Also, the "ratings" we give to various places for all the attributes we rank places by are interactive. Do we think a place is "40%" beaches, but you think the beaches there aren't all that great. By all means, please downvote it.
All in the meanwhile, we track which locations are popular and which are less so. Combining all pieces of the puzzle gives us (and you) all the information you will need to make an informed pick for a travel destination. If after that you still want to dig deeper, you can always go to Lonely Planet :-)
As of yesterday the website is now live! This is very exciting, although we are well aware that it is going to be a long ride before the website gains any kind of traction. But we believe in the concept, and in the weeks, months and years ahead we will be working hard to make Travel Indicator your one stop for surprisingly great and accurate travel recommendations, no matter what you are looking for.
As a taster of what is to come, over the past days we have added the following locations:
Somewhere early on in 2013, I found myself packing up my belongings and preparing for a move from somewhere in Northern Europe to a large city in Southeast Asia. I had been asked to join a financial firm there and was excited about the move from a career perspective, but not only that. What people soon started telling me was "where you are going is a great place to explore the region from, you can do weekend trips to tropical beach island so-and-so and city trips to bustling Asian metropolis this-and-that!"
I was excited indeed. I mean, I knew that I would be working long hours, but my weekends were going to be filled with fun and exploration. And I would be to earn a very smart salary that would definitely allow me to enjoy things to the fullest!
The first weeks went as expected, I was working 60-70 hours a week and in the weekends we were exploring the city we had just moved to. But after a month or so the travel bugs started to itch: where would we travel to? We could now afford to go anywhere, but time was limited. We couldn't choose. We liked beaches, we liked big cities, we liked mountains, culture and history. And although there were easily thousands of locations that would have fit the bill for this description, we simply could not choose. Meticulously investigating every single location became a drag. And some of the larger traveling websites were not of much help. One travel website in particular, which shall remain unnamed, was especially unhelpful in recommending the "Escape Hunt amusement park" as Bangkok's top attraction and "Bali Jet Set Dive and Marine Sports" as Bali's top attraction!
The sections on travel destination suggestions of the same websites also had very little to offer. I am in Asia and want a beach holiday, and the suggestions are Bali, Phuket, Koh Samui and Boracay. Really? I could have worked those out myself...
It was at this stage that I decided there had to be a better way to go about this. Combining my lust for travel with the technical skills that I had been gradually picking up as part of my work, I decided to get started on a website that essentially offered the following:
Travel suggestions based on YOUR highly specific desired holiday mix. You might want to go to a beach island that is remote, or you might want to go to a city with great beaches in front of it. You might want to visit small historical towns next to a river, or you might want to go to big cities with great nightlife. Travel Indicator will help you identify these places.
To give you the bare basics about that location, i.e. only what matters. I don't believe that when exploring potential holiday destinations, seeing that "Bali Jet Set Dive and Marine Sports" is the top attraction is particularly helpful. Hence this website goes about it differently and keeps it short. Pick your locations here, and investigate elsewhere.
These are the main drivers behind Travel Indicator. After contemplating further, I added two more things to the mix:
Distance. If you are located in Europe, the beaches of Micronesia might be appealing, but those in the south of France are probably easier to be reached. Travel Indicator allows you to filter on distance to only give you the most relevant locations. We leave it up to you whether you want to scan the globe, or you want to scan in a circle of 500 miles or kilometers around you.
Weather. Have you ever considered taking a beach holiday in Tioman Island, Malaysia? In that case it might have been of interest to know that rainfall there in December is 6 times as high as in June. You might therefore want to plan your trip in the middle of the year if you want to avoid sitting next to the beach during intensive downpours. Similarly, if you are feeling adventurous and travelling to Tatarstan in Russia, it might be of interest to know that the summer months are pleasant at an average maximum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit), while the winter months are extremely cold at average maximum temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit!).
That's Travelindicator in a nutshell. Your feedback is very much appreciated, so please reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thought you'd never ask. It's fairly simple really. We review hundreds of travel destinations, put them online and then wait for our users to vote on the 23 attributes that each destination is scored on. This in turn helps you to browse, sort and filter destinations to find ones that may suit your wishes. On the home pageyou can start by selecting your prefered weather and distance, as well as one or more themes that you wish to check out. Next, click Showto view your results. From there you can filter with more precision, read up on destinations or store them to your must/might/should-see lists.
What are you really trying to achieve, who pays for this?
Sure enough, servers are expensive so if we can get you guys to make a hotel booking or two that will be sweet. But the commercial aspects of this are not what is driving us. We want to be your go-to website when you need to look up a new travel spot, we want to be for travel what IMDB is for movies.
Can you give us an idea of the type of data that drives Travelindicator?
Every destination is linked to a hierarchy based on a country > region > city waterfall and is linked to its geographic coordinates (longitude, latitude). Monthly average temperature and precipitation is stored, as well as the nearest airport, population, information about languages spoken, and another bunch of dummy variables (whether a destination for instance is a suitable entry point to a country).
This is combined with 23 user-defined ratings, tags, itineraries a place is stored in, users that have saved a destination, public holidays in a country, and so on. For every user that stores destinations and creates itineraries, we also save a travel profile (budget vs. luxury, introvert vs. extrovert, etc.), which can be linked to any of our covered destinations.
We combine all of this with external data from Rome2Rio, Openweathermap and Foursquare.
So yeah, there's a fair bit of data involved. (Just to give you an idea, at time of writing we have covered about 760 destinations. On themes alone that means 760*23 = 17,840 data points!
What are your rating attributes (i.e. %beaches, %romance) for every location based on?
We have intensively traveled ourselves and wherever possible these ratings are our assessment of the place in combination with extensive research on every location. After we put them live, users can influence the ratings by voting on them!
How is the similarity of destinations determined?
We sample from the rich information we store for every location (including themes, weather, altitude, tags and so on) to compare places and caculate a degree of difference between every destination. Suffice it to say that if place A scores 40 on adventure and place B scores 60, the difference is going to be exponentially smaller than when A scores 0 and B 100.
What is meant by the versatility score?
This statistic is derived from the scores on the various themes. We employ a weighting on those themes to determine whether every single person who goes here will actually find something to do (in the most extreme of cases, that will happen when the score on every theme is 100% - a place like Bali in Indonesia comes pretty close!), or whether a destination should really only be visited for a particular reason (e.g. to go mountain climbing). In general, cities are going to be more versatile than small towns.
What do the hotel prices mean?
Several times a day we source nightly rates popular hotels for every location. What you see is the average of our sourced nightly rates, an indicator which should be read as: "you will be able to find hotels ABOVE and BELOW this price". The intention of the prices you see is to be able to understand which places are comparatively more expensive to travel to than others.
Where do you get your flight ticket prices from?
The ticket prices are not real or actual! In fact they are based on a very simple formula that was shared with us and is commonly used in the travel industry. This formula was derived of historical ticket prices and was shown to be a reasonable estimate of what you can expect to pay in the future. Naturally there are discounts, deals, fare hikes and all the unpredictability of airline pricing that we cannot foresee. But it's clear that the relation between distance and price exists, and we believe that on average, our numbers will give you a reasonable idea of what you will be charged to go somewhere!
Why don't I see any places that have snow or cold temperatures?
The temperature and rainfall filters work together with the period that you travel in. So if you set the month to July and you're looking for places in Europe, most temperatures will not be too low as that is in the summer. If you change the month to December or January on the other hand, you should find plenty. We have set it up like this because it is more "accurate": you will not find any snow in western Europe in the summer!
Can I work for you?
We can always use an extra pair of hands! Just send us an email and we can discuss how we can best work together!
Who are you?
We are two 30-something entrepreneurs. One of us is Dutch, currently living and working in Singapore. The other is Australian, currently living and working in Germany. You could say we are an international bunch, both being so far away from home. And yes, we also have our day jobs as well (one of us is in IT and the other is in - sigh - high finance). Please get in touch if you'd like to know more.
What does the future hold for Travelindicator?
Increased focus on our product and building a user community, with most commercial aspects as an after-thought (servers are expensive!) rather than a real business objective. We intend to significantly enlarge our content, improve our algorithm and enhance user experience so that we can further grow in prominence in the travel industry.
Travelindicator offers your business access to a highly targeted travel platform.
Benefit from the positive association with our brand along with making an impression to travel ready users who are interested in or planning a visit to any of the hundreds of travel destinations that we cover.
Show your ad or link on a location page for at least 3 months
Show your ad or link across all destinations in a certain region for at least 3 months.
Show your ad or link on our Country page along with all destinations within thta Country for 3 months.
If one Country is sponsored, we offer each subsequent Country sponsored at a discounted rate.
All above options come with mentions through our social media channels
A temporary, limited and highly unique opportunity to be a global site sponsor which includes a range of additional benefits and collobroative marketing opportunites. You would be helping us grow and we will return on your investment.
At least that is what we are determined to build! Travelindicator is a travel website that likes to put you in total control of discovering new travel destinations, but at the same time make the process as effortless as possible.
We recognise that in today's high-pressure world, holidays are valuable and need to be spent in the best possible way. But we also know that you may not always have access to in-the-know friends or acquaintances that are able to give them the low-down on the latest travel discoveries and must-see places. And those that don't probably won't want to spend weeks flipping through pages of thick travel guides to be able to figure out what destinations might actually suit their holiday plans. Enter the room: Travelindicator.
Interactive and data-driven: a travel agency-light
We take an interactive and data-driven approach to generating travel ideas. While the rest of the travel world is still writing extensive travel guides that go into minute detail of travel destinations you had already chosen to travel to anyway, our travel idea generator is all about letting you discover new ones and giving you just a quick yet information-rich review of what each has to offer.
We classify travel destinations according to 23 themes which range from the natural (beaches, mountains or desert) to atmosphere (exciting, romantic, adventure, and so on). Our users rate destinations based on these themes, so you can find places more easily and see how the stack up on the attributes that you care about. Want a romantic getaway but don't want to be bored, just want to get away from the busy world and chill out with some nature and paradise or maybe this trip you just want adventure - chuck it in the criteria and off you go!
By bringing all of these puzzle pieces together, our algorithm is able to build a precise destination profile which in turn allows users to discover it by filtering through our database.
Combined with other bits of information like location (and distance to you), altitude, temperature and rainfall we can give you a set of highly specific travel destinations that may match the kind of holiday you are looking for.
Always honest and to the point
Perhaps this can be attributed to the founders of Travelindicator being Australian and Dutch, but we honestly don't like to mince our words.
We are not really in the business of pushing travel destinations at our users, and if we don't like a destination we will tell you so loudly and clearly. At the same time, we like to keep it short and sweet as well. If you want intricate details of which restaurants in what streets to check out, you are probably better off elsewhere (we link to other travel resources to help you a bit at the end of each review). We are just here to give you the basics.
Lovers of hashtags
Also we kinda love tags #hashtag-this & #hashtag-that: this makes it super easy for you to find what you're looking for - so you can always take a look at say, every #Beach we have ever covered or every must see #UNESCO site or as above, I just want #Adventure. Then as you can do with any list we propagate for you, filter it down, shift higher on more important items and lower on lesser ones - leaving you with a nice selection of places that might be worth you checking out on your next trip.
We know of no other place you can get all this along with an honest overview of a destination in one place anywhere else on the web and it's all there for you to use as you wish - for free, forever, enjoy!
An ever-growing database of destinations
None of what we are trying to do here would work if we weren't able to offer you a wide variety of travel destinations across continents, countries, regions, themes and tags. We are hard at work to add additional ones on nearly a daily basis.