We’re doubling down on the best bits of Travis, stripping away the distractions, and rolling out new changes in phases. We’ve learnt a lot over the last 2 years, and we thank you for being a patient and enthusiastic early supporter. However, we’ve also gone radio silent on our progress which is not what we want to do. If you’re already on the waitlist, you’ll be receiving your invite between April-May 2022! If you’re curious about what in the world went on behind the scenes at a travel startup during the pandemic, read on.
Let’s get real. The travel industry has had the toughest two years. Travel basically stopped overnight - with no real means of shifting to virtual events or takeaways to keep operating. And as a travel startup which got started right before the pandemic (Ask our CTO Sylvain, he started with us one week after Melbourne went into lockdown), it hasn’t been easy.
In this time, sheer optimistic and relentless grit has kept us hard at work and building our own momentum, with the belief that travel will bounce back, as long as we could ride through the pandemic. After all, it is the one thing that cannot be replaced by a virtual experience, and exploring the world is truly an inherent need that we have. The hardest question that no one could answer was, when?
As a team of three, our daily standups brought us a sense of routine, focus, and normality - even in the gloomiest of daily media news and monotony of a never-ending lockdown. Tom chugging through user interviews and feedback, designing, prototyping and refining countless iterations. Sylvain relentlessly wrangling databases, code and the mammoth mechanics behind the elegant, fun and intuitive user experience. And Nicole building our brand and our early community of believers - travelers, creators, and industry partners.
There are highlights we’ve achieved that we are proud of - seeing the evolution of Travis 1.0, the first round of seed funding, our first group of supportive beta users, creators, hotel partners, Creator Fund, Product Hunt launch, and feature in The Australian - but there are also lowlights, uncertainties and challenges that we face. Every. Single. Day.
It’s safe to say that launching Travis during the pandemic wouldn’t have done anyone any good. Travelling is the last thing on your mind, and we wouldn’t want to be launching a half baked product.
As an early stage startup, we’re in major test and learn mode - which means we’re hungry for feedback and derive insights from everything. Releasing our product to a controlled group of early adopters means we’re able to test specific things, stay on top of user feedback, questions and support - to make the product better and help us prioritise what’s next. And the last thing we want to do is release an early stage product to sophisticated users expecting a fully-built, polished product.
The feedback has been overwhelming at times - hundreds of emails and messages that range from the very promising “This is what I’ve been waiting for!” to “The moodboard and map split view is the killer feature for me as a Pinterest lover who also need a map!” to constructive requests of “Can I add multiple photos? Is there an app? Can I add my friends to this? How come I can’t find a place I’m looking for? Can I get optimised routes on this?” to requests of “Please delete my account.”
It’s funny, because when you put a product out in beta, you know that it is not complete and does not operate 100% in the way that you’d like it to - or that users would like it to. As founders, we’re working on this 24/7 - all day, all night, yes, even on weekends. We needed to take a step back to re-evaluate - who are we serving, and how are we delivering our promised value in a distinctly different and delightful way, and how do we get there as a team?
One: Focus. One big reminder to self, is that we can’t build everything for everyone - so we’re focusing on the best bits that our early users have loved about Travis, and are doubling down on this. Two: Phasing. Just because it’s not available on Travis now, doesn’t mean that it won’t be in the future.
Our sweet spot, is serving people who are self-proclaimed bucketlisters.
(If this is you, it’s okay - you can tell us about it.)
From here, we’re doubling down on the best bits of Travis that you love - the visual moodboard interface, interactive map, and personal stories by travelers. And we’re taking it further! More interaction with others, more organisation on moodboards.
We’re now building and excited to share with you Travis 2.0. Get ready to meet your visual trip planner - a central hub to collect places to visit, organise trips and collaborate with friends in real-time. This isn’t a re-skin of our current product, it’s not a change of direction. Rather it’s a refined focus and to do this we’re re-building our platform, turning our key learnings into action, and to take it further than what we currently have. It’s kind of like taking things apart and putting the pieces back together again.
There are 3 key promises that guide what we’re building.
Imagine if you could look at some place cool that your friend or a recommended creator has shared. Within a click, you can see where this place is, save/share with friends for later, and get possible booking options to buy this experience when you’re ready - without having to do a tedious search and find the most trusted booking options on Google.
Moodboards are the core of Travis. These are visual, interactive, flexible, and collaborative. Search for a Place like you would on Google. Save links from websites you trust. See it all on a map. Your Moodboard is the central place to collect all inspiration and information about bucket lists, getaways, road trips, BFF trips, and more. Alternatively, Moodboards can be used as recommendation boards shared with others visiting your city.
This replaces Google Maps + Pinterest / Notes to Self / Spreadsheet.
Soon, you’ll be able to Search & Discover Places in a Map view, right in the Moodboard. We’ll also be releasing Tagging & Sorting to give you more control and flexibility in various use cases. We’re excited about the potential of this - Browser Extension to save links from any website into Moodboards in one click, Personalised Recommendations, Flexible Views, Optimised Routing, and Templates to get started quickly. You can check out our Product Roadmap here and upvote features that are important to you.
Hands up if you’ve clicked on to someone’s bucket list or recommendations in a shared spreadsheet or Google Maps link, only to widen your eyes in fright and click out again as soon as possible? Unfortunately, today’s tools either let you communicate in a group (Whatsapp/Messenger), or collect places (Google Maps/Sheet/Doc) - but not both, and definitely not in a delightful, visual experience (Pinterest).
We’re connecting these functional needs with a strong focus on real time group collaboration on Moodboards - whether in groups or 2, 5, or 50. With Travis, multiple people can be adding places into a shared, visual moodboard. You can chat live directly where your cursor is, and use reactions to keep fun interactions in the same space, without having to switch apps just to continue your conversation.
Beyond this, the use case and features for groups is limitless. If this is something you feel strongly about, let us know!
Nothing beats the stories and recommendations from locals or people who have been there before. And even better, if this comes with location information, and the ability to save and plan for later.
Stories on Travis remain, acting as visual diaries and micro blogs focused on the places that you’ve been, and supercharging this by automatically generating a map based on tagged locations.
Over time, we will introduce new functionality for creators to make it easier to create high value travel content on Travis - amongst them: SEO optimisation, Mobile Story Creator, Instagram Integration, and Integrated Monetisation. Alongside that, programs like our Travel Creator Fund and Insider programs enable us to continue working with emerging creators passionate about uncovering the best unique experiences worth sharing.
We’ve dropped the ball in communicating our progress, our updates and we want to be much more transparent from now on, to bring you all as a part of our journey as we build Travis together. Here are 4 new things we’re putting in place so that you are able to start using Travis more easily, and have more visibility about what’s next.
Travis will always be free - to help travelers make trips happen. But beyond the product functionalities, what's important to us is to have a platform that's a home just for travelers, to grow a community who celebrates the diversity and depth of travel, and to build an ecosystem where creators are equipped with the tools to grow and be rewarded for their experience and expertise.
Hotels and other accommodation types of all sizes can use our Digital Guides tool for Hotels, to create visual, interactive guest guides in minutes. No tech team, no complex integrations needed. Drop us an email at email@example.com to find out the latest partner offers, or to get started for free.
You can get access to our Story creator tool, to create visual diaries with an integrated map - ready to share with your audiences looking to you for travel stories and recommendations. If you're looking for simpler solution than a Wordpress blog or wrangling map integrations, this would be a great tool for you. To be considered for future Creator/Influencer collaborations, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with previous examples and proposed ideas of how we could collaborate.
Join us for this bumpy ride as we build Travis in phases, on the other side of the pandemic. We can't wait to get Travis into your hands, to make your next trips happen.