Is the travel industry a good place to begin your journey as an entrepreneur?
- Do you have Product-Founder fit?
Generally, yes, people would find a good fit with the travel industry. To most of us, its relatabe. Its exciting. We’ve all gone on trips — big or small — and all found gaps in the trip planning resources available online.
- If its such an exciting space, how crowded is the competitive map?
Well. Incredibly crowded.
There’s already hundreds of services trying to improve the way we travel. You have your day tours (eg. Tours by Locals) where you go around with a local guide. Or you have your Travel-Tinder (eg. Jetzy) where you can find and meet travellers in your travel destination in real time. Then, of course, you have your giants — Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google. They pull up all the lists of your Top Ten Things to Do.
- So if the space is so crowded, why are people still trying to innovate within it?
Something goes amiss while trip planning. You find every toursity recommendation online, but no genuine recommendations which capture the local customs, vibes and trends. And, everything toursity has been polished up and photoshopped to look like a better version than what it really is. A product that can give you real insights into your destination has somehow not made its way through to competitive map yet.
But here’s the catch. This is not a hidden problem. We all experience it, everyone wants to solve it. So why has it not been solved yet?
Jobs To Be Done
Lets revisit some of the smaller companies in this space, and map their product design with what we’ve learnt from user interviews.
Tours By Locals and similar day tours companies
Although this company has been doing fairly well, it hasn’t gained widespread popularity since its conception in 2008. It hasn’t yet made its way into a list of frequently used apps for travelling. And why? The locals provided would know of all the local spots in your destination and they’d be able to provide you with real insights with your must see attractions too. But do (most)travellers like following hourly planned out iteneraries?
The pros? These tours cover a LOT of ground. But outside of that, a lot of people find them too restrictive. Being matched with a tour guide for a long stretch of time can go great or really bad too — it all depends on how you get along with the tour guide and the rest of your tour group. It takes away from the exploratory sense of travelling and its always more exciting finding places yourself.
Hello Reco by Trip Advisor
This one seems fairly new, however similar companies have existed and not taken off for years. Here, you’re provided with personalised tour agents who, given your trip expectations and requirements, put together an itenerary for you. Sounds great. But does it work? Well, not for all travellers. Especially because most of these services aren’t in everyone’s bugdet range. Additionally, travellers like finding things to do for themselves. They want local tips, yes, but they still want the sense of freedom and exploration when building thier iteneraries.
What are these companies lacking? Lets consider the Jobs To Be Done framework. This framework forces you to think of you product at its very core, and what job it needs to get done. What job are people hiring it to solve?
Are travellers hiring Hello Reco to get a local and personalised trip? Well, maybe. If they’re lucky. But if not, they just get a completely polished itenerary made for them that may still miss out on the local customs of the destination. Is it solving the job of providing local insights? No, its solving the job of providing you with a trip itenerary (also a valuable job, but a different job all the same). So is Tours by Locals doing the job? Well, no again. Its soving the job of providing you with a tour guide for a day, but not of just solely giving you the recommendations you want.
Is it possible to build an app that can solve this problem? That has personalised recommendations which are also credible and organic? An app that can replicate the interaction between you, a traveller, and a bartender you were lucky enough to meet and ask for local recommendations into an online interaction you can have with a local who is similar to you and understands what you want?
But is the travel industry a good place to begin your journey as an entrepreneur?
I’d argue — yes. If you can innovate in an industry as crowded as this and find the one MVP that your users actually want, then that is more you could have learnt in product design and management than you could have ever hoped.