What’s Your Destination? Take the TripTuner Test.

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Recently, TripTuner was awarded another patent – the ultimate proof of a product’s uniqueness.  But the real test happens when people use it.  You quickly see if you’ve got something special.

I was lucky to witness some real-time reactions the other day while presenting to a local high school’s entrepreneurship class.  “Who likes to travel?” I asked.  All hands go up. “OK, think of your dream destination – but don’t tell anyone.”

Next, I asked for volunteers to take the “TripTuner Test.”  Mary jumped up to the keyboard and adjusted the sliders as we watched her matching results populate.

“Now tell us where you want to go most,” I asked.  “Bora Bora,” she replied.  (Well, I did ask them to dream).

Like a circus promoter I call out “let’s see what the first result is!”  Rangiroa was in the first slot.  They were not impressed.  Until I told them that it’s a sister island to Bora Bora in French Polynesia.  “No way!” Mary calls out.

“But wait!” I scrolled to the next image – “there it is, Bora Bora!”  The kids were blown away.
Rangiroa on TripTuner

Shout out to Dany13 for the fab Rangiroa photo!

Andrea came up next.  Her destination?  Mozambique.  (They’re an adventurous lot).  Her top result after adjusting the sliders? Benguera Island…in Mozambique.  “Whoa!” – she couldn’t believe it.

TripTuner found their favorite places without knowing anything about them.  The students hadn’t signed up.  They weren’t cookied or tracked and weren’t logged into Facebook.  There was no way to know what destination they had in mind (now THAT’s privacy-friendly personalization).

IMG_1907

Sharing founder’s insights with the EHS entrepreneurship class.

How do we find their dream destinations?  Sure, we have proprietary algorithms blah blah blah.  But there isn’t one specific technical thing we did to make the experience special.  It’s the result of looking at the overall process from the traveler’s perspective, and keeping it simple.  I call it #outovating.  No matter how many patents we have, creating that inspiring feeling for travelers is what matters most to us.

Not buyin’ it?  Take the test yourself:

1. Think of where you’d love to go next.
2. Go to TripTuner.

3. Adjust the sliders to your preferences.

What was your top result?

If we don’t come up with a place you like, I want to hear about it.

Stay tuned,

Tedd

 

3 Key Marketing Paradigms for 2020 and Beyond

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2020.  It’s how we describe perfect vision.  A clean, round number that comes around every 10 years.  It calls out for change. But vague descriptions of wanting to do more or less of something won’t do it justice.  2020 needs a clear vision as a springboard into the new decade. Here’s ours:

Customer Empathy

I wrote about this before, but it’s a concept worth repeating, clarifying and discussing.  Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen a shift from approaching customers as “prospects” to “followers” and even better, “advocates.”  The modern industrial age stipulated that product quality will help one’s business stand out from the rest while driving repeat business.  As manufacturing gave way to services, customer satisfaction grew as a way to cement loyalty.  

But as the information economy evolved, the critical element of human interaction disappeared.  We went from personal service to FAQs, Knowledge Bases and Contact forms. Companies seemed to be keeping customers at arm’s length as they strove to gain scale efficiently.  Try finding the help section on Amazon. It’s the last option, at the very bottom of the page.

Amazon’s help menu, with our notes on how customers may read it.

Amazon’s help menu, with our notes on what customers may read into it.

In some respects, that’s OK.  The mostly mobile, always-on world changed how we communicate.  We may not want to talk to an agent when we can get what we need via live chat or text.  For those who are always “crazy busy,” the perceived quickening of life’s pace may not allow time for exchanging pleasantries and small talk.  Just get me what I need, now. 

Resolving a customer’s issue quickly and on their terms does not necessarily win you loyalty, however.  It’s a minimum requirement. A ticket to play in today’s marketplace.

Marketing success in 2020 and beyond requires establishing an emotional connection with consumers – something that’s very hard to do digitally.  It requires customer empathy: “listening” to an individual’s needs or desires in the moment, based on their terms and mindset. This can be dramatically different from the targeting signals, persona or profile your company may have derived from their past behavior.

One successful e-commerce venture – Zappos – did this, ironically via the old-fashioned method of a toll-free customer service phone line.  It’s their way of establishing a “personal emotional connection” as founder Tony Hsieh put it. When Amazon bought them for $1.2 Billion, Hsieh resisted the pressure to abandon this approach.  Whereas most companies think of customer service as a generic operating expense, he saw it as marketing and has kept it to this day.

How can we engender customer empathy digitally?  It’s a complex effort that requires a clear, unified overall approach across the many interactions and micro-moments that consumers have with our brand – whether online or offline.  These interactions are opportunities to convey customer empathy by demonstrating what one’s brand stands for and believes. At TripTuner, we do that by putting the consumer in control of their preferences to discover content that is relevant to them, in the moment. 

Sphere Is The New Funnel

This was covered in great detail in a previous blog post and on stage at the Phocuswright conference.  So I won’t go much further into it other than to say that the “consumer journey” (as Ad Age Digital pointed out) isn’t a journey at all.  There is no “path to purchase” anymore because you don’t need more than a mobile phone to make a purchase, anywhere at any time.  

The ramifications of this for marketers – particularly in a world where increased privacy regulations will make traditional targeting more difficult – are significant.  It will require abandoning and un-learning years of “pushing customers down the funnel” to a purchase. Pushing! That’s not too customer empathetic, right?

Graphic showing the digital marketing funnel as a sphere.

This new paradigm will require frameworks to understand, account for and respond to the myriad interactions and combinations thereof that inspire a consumer to make a purchase.  It’s non-linear and messy, but so is life.  So there’s an added incentive for you to get it right 🙂

Inspiration is Everywhere

IF we agree that e-commerce will be increasingly frictionless – that consumers can purchase anything, anywhere at any time – THEN don’t we also have to accept the fact that the inspiration for doing so can also happen at any time, anywhere?  Instagram has become a key part of travel inspiration, to the point where someone scrolling through their feed can see a photo of a place and then switch over to book a flight on their phone while sitting through a boring meeting.

The challenge for marketers in this environment is to create ways to insert contextually-relevant brand messages into consumers’ thousands of daily digital (or physical) interactions – while providing a path to purchase, without being too commercial.  That’s quite a task, but one that is worth pursuing and one I believe will be solved this decade, if not sooner. It’s time to raise up into the Soaring 20s – let’s get to work!

Stay tuned,

Tedd

Celebrating 8 Years of Travel Inspiration

TripTuner turns 8 today!  What started as a thought while sitting on a beach in Barra da Lagoa, Brazil (shouldn’t all companies require creative beach time?) quickly turned into a few sketches, a working prototype and an MVP launch in October 2011.

TT 8 YR LI promoWith little to no traffic (and no marketing funds as a bootstrapped venture), we didn’t have any data to tell us whether anyone would actually use it.  So we had to rely upon qualitative validation from strangers. They tweeted “It’s like it knows me” and “Obsessed with TripTuner.” The most prescient remark – “my girl and I are planning a trip as a direct result of your site” – was ultimately reflected in our business model.

Today, we engage and inspire travelers to discover, share and book experiences and destinations fine-tuned to their tastes – on TripTuner.com and for leading airline, hotel, destination, online travel agency and consumer product brands.

We aren’t new, but we’re still bright and shiny.  We continue to innovate on the core strategic premise of our business: consumer choice will continue to expand in volume and nuance.  It’s more relevant than ever. Just look at the growth of the tours & activities sector.  

The long-term trend of expanding, more complex options will continue to drive demand for our intuitive, fun and practical approach to solving the paradox of choice.  In travel and beyond.  

Like any major trend, those who act first will benefit the most.  So if you’d like to learn more, hit us up.  

Meanwhile, when we shake that Magic 8 Ball, the answer we get for ourselves is the message we deliver every day to you:  You’ll Go Far!

Thanks for an amazing 8 years.

Stay Tuned,

Tedd

 

Magic 8 Ball is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc.

Catch Us if You Can in October! CPH SFO TPA

Join our Founder & CEO Tedd Evers as he brings a decidedly contrarian take on things with talks at these leading travel conferences:

eTail Nordic – Copenhagen – 2-3 October

It’s a very interesting time for those in the Nordic markets.  It’s trite to say “Winter is coming,” but even though Amazon has not entered (yet), e-commerce retailers are thinking hard about how brands can survive and thrive in a changing marketplace landscape.  Tedd will chair day 2 of this e-commerce conference, moderating interesting panels on maintaining brand identity and how to ensure marketing messages are heard in a communication-weary world…and maybe squeeze in some time to check out one of Europe’s coolest cities.

eTourism Summit – San Francisco – 7-9 October

It’s time to re-think personas.  Cultural and societal norms are fragmenting at breakneck speed.  Traditional, monolithic identities are shattering, morphing into kaleidoscopic forms amid an explosion of individual expression.  Is your digital marketing framework ready?  Join Tedd and other leading destination marketers to learn about “The Kaleidoscope Effect” and much more.  Sometimes the best way to beat jet lag is to overcompensate with a longer flight in the opposite direction.  See you in SFO.

Mega Event Worldwide – St. Petersburg, FL – 29-31 October

Leading annual event for the global Airline & Travel industry dedicated to maximizing revenues from Loyalty Programs, Ancillary Revenue Generation and Co-Branded Credit Card Programs.  This year’s theme is “Engage, Experience & Execute” and Tedd will be co-presenting a customer experience case study just before heading home for Halloween so his teenage daughter can ignore him.  Yeah!

INFOGRAPHIC Traveler Tastes for 2018: To Chill or seek Thrills?

TT Taste Lab - relaxing

As 2017 winds down we’re sharing some fresh traveler preference data to help marketers target the world’s top 10 markets next year. It’s not your typical list of up-and-coming destinations (you can always find those here). Nor is it a list of popular activities or themes. Those have been covered thoroughly. Continue reading

Celebrating 6 Years of TripTuner

We are your source for travel #inspiration.

We’re passionate about travel, with broader ambitions.

We are your self-curation tool, in a world of overwhelming choice.

We’re Tedd, Pierre, Freddy, Jen, Laurie, Huu Da and a virtual army of supporters.

We are TripTuner: a self-funded, profitable #startup celebrating 6 years of fine-tuned #travel.

We’re inviting you to join us on this journey of discovery. You down?

TripTuner 6 Year Anniversary

What’s behind our smile on #WorldEmojiDay2017?

UPDATE: Donation made! Thanks to all of you who participated in your promotion and helped us bring smiles to children in need around the world.

Today our summer interns Madeline and Philip launched a social promotion with a cause, called #MyEmojiSmile.  It’s a simple request to like or share our social posts.  For each such action we make a donation to Operation Smile, which offers free surgeries (and other services) to disadvantaged children with cleft-lip around the world.  We did it because helping people in far-flung corners of the globe while bringing smiles to faces everywhere is core to what TripTuner is about. Continue reading

State of the ‘Tuner 2015

Most TV stations here in the US will be broadcasting the Presidential State of the Union Address tonight, but we’d like to offer a much briefer alternative. Ladies & Gentlemen, I submit to you our State of the ‘Tuner Address, with last year’s highlights and what we’ll bring in 2015.

Check out a preview of our sleek new TripTuner 2.0 design.  It’s fully optimized for mobile and tablet, for instant travel inspiration on the go – whether you’re in line at the supermarket, at the doctor’s office or stuck in a boring meeting.  Same addictive sliders, plus a rich tapestry of photos that wrap across your screen to help you find the right place for your next escape.

Click for a preview of TripTuner 2.0!

Whether or not you’ll be listening to O, you should know about our “MO” – the MOmentum gained from 3x growth last year.  We’re using it as a springboard to innovate even more than we did in 2014.  Some high points:

• CNN picks TripTuner #1 of “12 websites that’ll make you a smarter traveller.”

DressTuner 2.0 goes live on Zappos (yeah, we do that too!)

Bahamas’ Wedding Tuner debuts at the posh Per Se restaurant in NYC.

Visit Florida’s Beach Finder launches featuring Google Street …er, Beach View

• Brazil’s TAM Viagens arrives as our first airline partner, with “Inspire Me.” Belleza!

Soccer Tuner helps agnostic World Cup fans pick which team to back. Gooooool!!!

• Kempinski Hotels announces their “Tune in to Summer” promotion.

• Utah launches our latest project with Brand USA: Alpine or Red Rocks, anyone?

• France’s Havas Voyages unveils a rebranded “Inspirez-Moi” in our 3rd year together.

• October 15, 2014 marked our 3rd anniversary.

We’ve got much more in store and we’ll continue to listen to you, our loyal fans on how we may improve.  So enjoy TripTuner 2.0 on your phone, keep the suggestions coming and thanks for all your support. We wish you all the best for a fantastic 2015! #StayTTuned

Celebrating Three Years of TripTuner

Three years ago tonight, my lead developer Pablo and I were pecking out messages on Skype, knocking out a seemingly never-ending checklist of tasks.  It was a Friday night and we’d been working nonstop all day until around 8pm, when we flipped the virtual switch and pushed a web app called TripTuner live.

There was no launch party.  No throng of users enticed with sneak previews, or bloggers given special codes in a cleverly crafted pre-launch marketing plan.  We didn’t have time to build hype.  We wanted what we built to BE hype.  So our launch went completely unnoticed.  But man was it a great feeling to see an idea come to life.

Three years later, with equally little fanfare we – and by “we” I mean a virtual team spread across three continents — celebrate the sucessful culmination of years of hard work and perseverance.  A rollercoaster of ups and downs, sometimes on an hourly basis.  Quick reactions, changing priorities and rapid iterations are the norm, but the vision of discovering ideal options — for nearly anything — remains unchanged.  We’re executing on that vision and are well on our way with a growing, profitable company.  And a kick-ass product.

TripTuner began as a great way to find personalized destination ideas.  But we had no idea if it would work.  There wasn’t a test that could prove whether or not it was viable.  We had to build it to see if users thought it was as cool as we did.  Of course, everyone we showed it to said they liked it.  But everyone will tell you that.  There’s only one way to tell, and that’s to put it out there.  Fortunately, users responded with enthusiasm.  “It’s like it knows me”, tweeted one.  “So freaking obsessed” twote another.

Now, in addition to TripTuner.com, we create custom “discovery engines” for a growing array of partner sites that help users find their ideal destination, beach, island wedding, hotel…or dress.  As a result, we’ve focused more on our partner’s needs than our own over the past few years.  But we’ll be updating TripTuner.com soon to give you, our fans, an even better way to discover great places to go.

I thank you deeply for your support during these first three years and look forward to many more years with you as we move into the next chapter.  #StayTuned  – Tedd

The Fisherman: You’re Already Home

Last night I had the pleasure of presenting to the DC Lean Startup Circle community.  The theme was around the hidden costs of following the Lean startup methodology, and I closed with an abridged, slightly mangled version of this parable about a fisherman in Mexico.  As a make-good I’m posting the complete version below.

The point I was making is that in life there’s often a tendency to size up how you rate versus something else: another person, company, or lofty goal.  This is exacerbated in a startup, and particularly for practicians of Lean, where close monitoring of metrics, A/B testing and constant challenging of assumptions are key tenets.  It can be often grueling work towards what seem like moving targets.  But if we’re passionate about what we’re doing right now, that won’t matter.  We’ll still be making progress, but we’ll enjoy the journey.  LIke the fisherman, we’ll “already be home” (a phrase inspired by a similarly named Jay-Z track).  Here’s the story:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the Mexican. “But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs … I have a full life.” The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. “And after that?” asked the Mexican. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.” “How long would that take?” asked the Mexican. “Twenty, perhaps 25 years,” replied the American. “And after that?” the Mexican asked. “Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!” “Millions? Really? And after that?” “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”