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Build Me This Travel Planning App, Please!

Posted on Thursday, Apr 28th 2016

Summer travel is about to begin. I am deep in the throes of planning our Sicily trip in May. In doing so, however, I miss not having access to an app that could make life dramatically easier and cut hours from my workflow.

Let me describe what my travel planning workflow looks like.

Step 1: We decide on the general area and the dates.

Step 2: We assess how much time we need to budget to do justice to each place we visit.

Step 3: We book the long haul flights.

Step 4: We figure out the short haul transportation – flights, car rentals, drivers, trains, etc.

Step 5: We research the hotels – our style – boutique hotels with plenty of character, usually not very large. I use a few different sites to triangulate and determine which ones we select. Kiwi Collection, Trip Advisor, NY Times 36 Hours in XXX, Guide du Routard, Top 10 Guides, Wallpaper City Guides, etc. are some of our sources for this research. Then we book the hotels.

Step 6: Once the basic structure of the trip is in place, we need to determine the sights, how to get around, the restaurants, the cafes, the performing arts options like concerts, plays, etc. Google Maps is handy to assess distances and cluster the activities so that we’re not bouncing around from one side of the city to another unnecessarily.

All of the above is incredibly time consuming. I do the research because if I don’t, then the experience is dramatically less interesting. We use guides selectively. We don’t really enjoy being too scheduled and without the flexibility to be able to soak in a place that we find particularly appealing.

But the more I do it, the more it seems to me a great opportunity for building a terrific app that I don’t believe exists out there. Or if it does, I haven’t seen it yet.

Right now, I have our Sicily trip mapped out till step 5. Step 6 is yet to be configured. I’d like to key in the cities, the hotels, and the dates into the app, and in a few minutes, have it configure a reasonable itinerary of the sites, restaurants, theaters, etc. For each city – Palermo, Erice, Agrigento, Noto, Siracusa, Taormina – I want a set of choices of things to see, including guidance about what they are, how special they are (Top 10?), etc. I will select which ones I want to see. The app needs to then fit those into a schedule by clustering the ones in close proximity, and propose something workable. It should propose the restaurants in the vicinity from a master list that I will review and approve. Then, I want Google maps for each mini itinerary in each part of the city. When we’re driving from city to city, I want the precise driving directions and maps, as well as where t o stop on the way, ensuring we do not miss the special side attractions if we wish to see them. We also need some tickets booked for a performance at the Greek theater in Siracusa, and a Sicilian folk puppet show in Palermo.

So, dear entrepreneurs, is there anyone amongst you who can build me an app to cut down the 30-40 hours that it takes me to plan these intricately researched trips?

I know, you are wondering, how big is the TAM? How many people plan trips like this?

Well, every traveler has to plan trips somehow. Most do NOT do the level of research I do. And most do not have the level of experience we do as a result. If you make it possible, and if you show them how to vastly enhance their level of experience, I think they would like to have more sophisticated experiences.

I know, you are wondering, how do I monetize? This is a bigger question. For me, I would pay to develop each travel plan, so you could charge per travel plan. Or, you could charge for the app. I am happy to pay either way, IF it works the way I want it to.

You can take any of these ideas and execute on them, morph them, mash them up with other ideas of your own. If you want help with building any of these businesses, feel free to join the 1M/1M program. We’ll be happy to help.

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