Before I talk about the primary subject of this post, Travel Mob, let me first point out that Adam Smith, the CEO of Travel Mob contacted me about the site two weeks ago. The important part here is that he did it in a way that caught my attention and, from what I can tell, he actually reads the T4 blog, so when he sent me a message he knew that his site would have relevance to my readers. That said, I wish all the pitches I received were as well formed as Adam’s. In case you are a PR company reading this post, please refer to my earlier post entitled “Engaging Bloggers – PR dos and don’ts” for some ideas on how to engage with bloggers.
Okay, back to the subject… I received a message from Adam a couple of weeks ago letting me know about his new project called Travel Mob. What I like about Travel Mob is that it makes a concerted effort to address the four stages of the travel purchasing lifecycle, “Dream, Plan, Go, Reminisce“. Although not all four stages are addressed completely, the site is a good first step towards trying to integrate what can be a complicated process. The concept behind Travel Mob is that it provides travelers with a trip home page that can be shared with the other travelers on your trip. You can invite other travelers to share your trip home page. The sharing of the home page addresses in part the “Dream” phase of the travel purchase lifecycle by allowing individuals to identify and share their dream trips.
Travel Mob deals with the “Planning” phase, by allowing you to add itinerary information, for example booking details for your flights, hotels, and car rentals as well as any excursions or sightseeing tours you might be taking. You can also upload important documents, for example, you might upload pdf copies of insurance documents, airline confirmations, or e-tickets. The only concern I had with this feature is that it is not secured. I think using a secure certificate on this page or any of the pages that handle personal travel information would be re-assuring for the traveler and probably increase use of these features. To address the “Go” phase (booking or purchase component) Travel Mob has integrated the Travel Now (Ian.com) booking engine using XML directly into the site. This feature allows you to book the flights, hotel, and car and have the items automatically added to your trip home page. This is a nice feature because it keeps the traveler on the Travel Mob site. My only concern is that there are so many other places to book online, the integration may not be enough to convince the traveler to actually book on Travel Mob. I suppose only time and user feedback will be able to determine if this is truly the case.
The photo gallery is also a nice feature and definately ties into the “Reminisce” stage. I would like to have seen captions for the photos and perhaps the ability to leave comments on the photos (ala Facebook). The ability to use photos as conversation starters allows the purchase cycle to go full circle and influencing the next dream, plan, go, cycle.
I asked Adam what he feels makes Travel Mob different from other group travel planning sites like Groople.com. He had this to say:
We’re different then Groople because we’ve really focused on providing a useful, good looking, easy-to-use, easy-to-setup trip homepage. There’s our Facebook style news feed that keeps trip members up to date on whats going on. Also, we’ve deeply integrated all of our travel products, from search through booking, into our trip homepage. So when someone on your trip books a hotel, flight, or car, it shows up on the news feed as well as on your trip’s itinerary. From the itinerary, you can search for the same flight or hotel as your friend with one click.
In addition, I asked Adam who he feels is the ideal target for Travel Mob and who he would like to partner with in the future:
Our target at first is groups of friends or extended families going on vacations together. Early next year we plan to integrate with a business conference planning and wedding website. My ideal partner would be TheKnot.com, because I think we can really help couples plan weddings, and particularly destination weddings.
- Quick sign-up is nice.
- Integrated trip home page.
- Facebook style feed updates.
- Combination of planning & booking in one interface is a bonus.
- Interface is relatively easy to use.
- Some features, like message board and photo gallery appear a bit too rudimentary.
- No captions or commenting on photos.
- Not a lot of AJAX or dynamic components.
- Received a generic error a little too often for a release site.
A more helpful error message would be useful. The generic
style message only makes users anxious.
In general, Travel Mob is a nice attempt at dealing with what can be a very complex and time intensive purchase lifecycle (especially for groups). The sophistication of most Internet users pretty much requires a very tight and polished interface and means that, where possible, many functions should be dynamic. I think with a little more AJAX integration, some attention to interface details, and more focus on user engagement (travel notes, comments, blogging) Travel Mob could be a really useful site. I recommend you try the site out and provide your feedback. I’m curious to know what you think about Travel Mob.