Travelling invariably brings out the best and worst in friends and families. You take a group of people already full to the brim with the stresses of work, university, school – give them an enormous list of things to remember, make them squeeze the contents of that list into the minimum amount of available space, and then transport that, themselves, and everyone they care about halfway across the world. Oh, and if any single step or component of that process is missed, what might be the only holiday you have that year is essentially ruined. That’s before you consider the potential disappointment we all place on ourselves by way too much advance planning and itinerary building, only to find that it’s physically impossible to get from a to b without sacrificing c and d. This hot mess needs cooling down, and the ocean breeze comes in the form of Itinerate, the stress busting social travelling app.
I need a Mimosa
With a few weeks left until the release of its first non-beta version, Itinerate is already making travel more enjoyable for thousands of early adopters. Its base set of features are all around building an itinerary or route – but doing so with all your travel companions. Once you’ve completed the quick, free registration process and installed the slick app, you can immediately set to work building your travel plan. All you need to do is give it a name, and invite your friends using their preferred social media account.
The interface is kind of a combination of a simple check list, backed up by a Google Map. Anyone attached to the travel plan (and authorised to edit by the original creator) can add itinerary items into the list – using a free text location lookup. The app will do whatever it can to find them and see them appear as a waypoint on the map. Double clicking a point on the map lets you manually create an additional waypoint. Each item is either a place you’d like to try and get to visit, or a deadline you have to hit such as a flight, or a bus or train journey. It’s very simple to add, and even simpler for any traveller to reorder and re-prioritise what you’re going to try and see.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Working together, you can then begin to add some more meat (and drink) to the outline of your plan. Add in master dates for your journey, then drag items into the different ‘pots’ generated for each day. Add how long you’d like to spend at a particular place – or the time you have to arrive. Tag items by their type – restaurants, bars, museums for example. Or create a placeholder for ‘lunch’ and drag a selection of potential restaurants into it. For items like flights that have tickets involved, drag the ticket document directly into the itinerary item where it is stored securely and encrypted – and available offline at any time!
This is where the app starts to get really clever, when you click the switch to turn on ‘auto route optimisation’. The app automatically begins to build a day, and an optimised route from the information it has – with the target of creating the most achievable (and realistic) itinerary for your day. This feature is great when you are sat at home trying to cram the most items into a short holiday… but it’s invaluable when you are using the app on holiday, as it gives you a real-time view of what you are really going to be able to achieve that day. Instead of rushing to a location, switch it off or drag it into another day and relax. Or… accept that an expensive taxi is the only way you are going to catch that connecting flight after lingering too long at the bar with the best jukebox. And don’t forget to leave a review for the next traveller passing through.
The inventors of Itinerate knew when they started that the first version of the platform would be something of a labour of love, and getting seed funding for an app in such a crowded marketplace wasn’t an option. Instead, they opted to build a simple web-based proof of concept – sort of the Trello of travel apps – and then running a successful crowdfunding campaign to get the first app version completed. With a growing user base, and glowing reviews, they were able to secure £300k’s worth of investment from a local investor to implement the features that will begin to generate the real revenue potential for the platform. This includes in app purchasing of travel tickets, flights, event bookings – hooking into anything with an API that can be used to generate affiliate commission!
In addition, the app is being further bolstered by a large database of international travel information – emergency info, currency and other conversion rates, even useful things like ‘how much is a pint of milk in…’ data. The UK Home Office have also provided a vast wealth of data around visa requirements, legal restrictions in different countries, even which side of the road you drive and how fast!
One of the initial decisions the inventors of Itinerate faced was whether to focus on the busy consumer travel market, or the less well supported business traveller market. Although business travel is a huge potential user base for them – and growing – they made the decision to delay entry into this market. Their roadmap aims to finally address this need within a year, when their next version is planned to be launched. And beyond that?
Well… oddly enough, Itinerate users tend to like planning and making itineraries… not just for travel but for all elements of their life. The inventors have a set of killer features in the pipeline, aimed at helping people itinerate their daily lives! So watch this space for the lifestyle version of the platform very soon, and prepare to be prepared – very, very prepared!
As always… sound too good to be true? Wondering why this doesn’t already exist?!
Itinerate is what you get when you take a bunch of lovely, engaged Leeds folk – fill them full of pastries and coffee, and use LightStart’s interactive process to convert an idea into a strategy… even an entire business model! As always, thanks to everyone who came down, for getting involved and having SUCH great ideas in the first place.
LightStart’s process starts by capturing the ideas you have and the issues you want to overcome, prioritising them, and mapping them to focused outcomes. These in turn inform the features, the features are prioritised into development phases, and the phases inform the overall launch strategy. At the same time, we create a structure for the app and platform, choose the best monetisation strategy, and even move into interface design.
We always have fun running these sessions at the Leeds Digital Coffee Mornings – if you’d like to come along, it’s free and you can book a ticket here.
LightStart offers their proven process as part of their development lifecycle, as a standalone service – or via paid or free workshops. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or visit lightstart.eventbrite.co.uk to find an upcoming event near you.