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Bewildered by Online Travel?

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#3 in the series Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered from the syndicated column of Chicke Fitzgerald, the author of the Game Changer.

By now you should be really bothered and if any of this has sunk in, you should be truly bewildered. 

And if you are anything like me, you are likely wondering how you can make things easier, particularly for people who come to visit you or to attend your events.

About ten years ago much of this became clear to me.  I got a group of friends and colleagues together (great pedigree, all) and raised a bunch of money ($7m) and we built a solution for the drive market – the 89% that the industry was all but ignoring. 

We launched on the #2 online travel site. We did many things right and an equal number of things did not line up at all. Thrilled to have scored such a great launch client, we missed the nuance of merchandising and placement. And who knew that the economic crash was right around the corner? 

If failure is teacher, then I now have my doctorate from that venture alone!

In the midst of that venture, my niece had a life-threatening accident and was airlifted to a city where none of us lived. Of course because I’m the travel industry person in the family, they called on me to find the hotel.

The effort to find lodging that would be convenient to my siblings traveling in to support my niece and her family was exhausting and I realized later, that I was in shock, so not thinking clearly. All the more reason to have a solution that helped me find a hotel nearby the hospital where my niece was having surgery instead of near the city center or the airport. Even Billings, Montana covers 43.52 square miles! Talk about an imprecise search.

From that experience, I knew that I had to do something. I knew instinctively that proximity matters. So I came back from that trip and in weeks I had built the first generation of a venue-based trip planning tool. It was known as HotelsbyHospitals. 

Then over the next few years, I started to look at the drive “coin” from the other side. What if it wasn’t so much about mode of transportation and if it was really about the purpose of trip? And in fact, it was about travel not to city centers and airports, but to companies, venues, funeral homes, sports complexes and events. It was about proximity to where people were actually going.  

That was when I realized that travel was also really disjointed from the initial catalyst for the trip. And “Do you want fries with that” just doesn’t have the same ring two hours after we buy the hamburger.

Once the light comes on, and you realize that you’ve been bewitched and beguiled, it is time to do something about it. My team and I are doing just that.

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, all at the same time

Millions have been lulled by this particular “lover” that we call online travel. We’ve been bewitched, bothered and bewildered, and even beguiled, not just at the same time, but over and over and over again. 

There has been no hope for being rescued from its clutches. Until now.

Since the light came on for me, we have added our smart trip planning widget to an infertility specialist’s website and to a series of ComicCon events. We made trip planning easy for sales people and for golfers wanting to stay near a particular golf course. Then we trip-enabled tens of thousands of obituaries, so people could easily find a hotel near a funeral home. That taught us how to look differently at events, both happy and sad. That was when we knew we could trip-enable literally everything, cradle to grave.

And not only could we trip enable places and events, we could do the same for images and videos and stories about places and events.  And we’ve done just that with Rich Media Exchange, our partner here at Travel Daily USA.

If you want to know more about it, the Rich Media Marketplace is live and we are working on a special programs for travel writers, bloggers and photographers and event companies.  We have special pricing and benefits for those clients that want to take this journey with us. Follow me on LinkedIn and send me a private message and we can talk.

In addition to solving this challenge, my team and I are launching a syndicated study of the relationship between events and trip planning. Not just big events, but life events, the things that you do throughout the year. We will be doing a Think Tank with the study participants early in 2018. Our study partner is Mandala Research, who helped us with the Drive Market study. You will be hearing more about the new study in the coming weeks.

Stay tuned.

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