Last year, I went on a surfing trip to San Diego. Starting in San Francisco, my hometown at the time, we drove down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Big Sur and LA to finally get to San Diego after some heavy weekend traffic.
Though this trip was an amazing experience and I became a big fan of San Diego as a place to stay and surf, planning this trip had been quite a hassle. I had done surfing on the West Coast only once before and spent hours trying to find out where to surf, how to get there and which spots to visit. A few weeks later, as Airbnb’s large conference took place in LA, I started to wonder about the online travelling space and its players. After a few weeks of thoughts and brainstorming, I had an idea in mind which I discussed with our wunderfactory team in December:
Why not use content generated by experienced travelers, maybe even full time “travelgrammers” and data intelligence to build a platform that would finally combine information, leave out what is unnecessary and provide me with a customized travel planning experience without having to google stuff at all?
A platform or app like this seemed like an appealing idea and the more I discussed it, the more it became clear that the concept we put together could eventually work out.
To explain this mission in detail, let me give you an example walkthrough of what an online travel planning process can actually look like. At first, this might seem nitpicky, but if you think about the last time you did travel planning, especially for somewhere you had never been to before with, you will realize that it might be pretty similar to what I describe here.
- Choose a city: San Diego.
- How to get there?
- Google route length. Alright, car works but with an overnight stay. Flights might work, too, but could expensive?!
- Where do I get the car from? … let’s do the other stuff first.
- Find a spot halfway… Goleta. Never heard… nice?
- Google Goleta. Yep, pretty small but seems nice.
- Look for an Airbnb in Goleta.
- Check out 7 Airbnbs, book one night stay. (I am now 18 min in)
- Alright. Now back to San Diego.
- Google “San Diego surfing”, finds more than 22 million results.
- Find surfing blog, but is this for beginner?
- … hm.
- Google “San Diego beginner surf spot”, only 195.000 results.
- Reads… Reads… Reads…
- Alright, beginner surfing seems to be possible.
- Google “San Diego surf rental”
- Find shitty website, no prices. -.- And is this close to the beach?
- … okay, let’s find the Airbnb first.
- Checks out 4 Airbnbs. (65 min in)
- How close are they to the beach?
- Google Airbnb street location to beach location
- Alright, pretty close. Booked.
- Surfshop close by? Anyhow, lets do later.
- Google restaurants in San Diego
- Open Tripadvisor, one million results and so much I was not looking for. Something friends can recommend?
- Who has been to San Diego?
- WhatsApp… Facebook… (around 2 hours in)
- … it goes on.
Let’s face it: You spend hours googling different spots, reading recommendations and travel blogs and still end up with insecurity about what to expect, where to go or how to get there most of the times. You switch from Lonelyplanet to the 100 Thailand stories blog, to the diving school website from 2003 and back to some hostel ad you do not really want to trust.
We want to solve this. Here is how:
Mapify is about information intelligently combined.
Before you even think about it, Mapify does the searching for you. It evaluates the key data points for you personally as a traveler and generates custom travel information. Here is the result of the above process, just mapifyed:
- You choose a city: San Diego!
- You find the “San Diego Surfing” roadtrip I shared to Mapify.
- Scrolling the trip for a few minutes, you get the perfect glance of what this journey could look like.
- Since I attached all the Airbnb’s I stayed at, you just book those, they are my personal recommendation. I took the car and explain everything you need to know about that in my trip description.
- You open the spots on my trip and the auto-generated Mapify guide shows you every important info you might need for this trip. How would I get around? Can I use UBER in LA? Do I need a visa for this trip? How about vaccinations for those destinations? All answered on a single glance. We even tell you if you need to bring a power plug adapter to this specific country (yes, everyone has forgotten one of these, right?).
- You save the trip to your Mapify bucketlist, download the Mapify app and get going. On your way, the Mapify app provides you with useful information on the spot, places nearby and travel tools.
Yes. It can be that easy.
Mapify is about design.
Everything on Mapify is about design. We believe travel planning and inspiration should be as beautiful as the trip itself. That is why we have created a unique identity that people already fell in love with.
Mapify is about the team and people.
When we set out to create a unique travel platform, we knew from the very beginning that an engineering team out of wunderfactory would not be enough. Looking back now, I feel like getting Tobi Schnorpfeil on board as our Head of Content and User Experience, who is also in charge of building our ambassador network, is what really kicked off Mapify’s development and design process.
However, Mapify is not just about the team. Even more, its about the travelers who have been supporting us from day one as testers of Mapify, but most importantly as part of our Mapify ambassadors program. This project would never even have gotten this close to launch with all your support, time and advice.
“I am an adventurer. I don’t want to plan ahead.”
What if I don’t want to plan? What if, for me, travelling is about exploration and surprise?
Even then Mapify is valuable for you the same way it is for the travel planner who wants to have everything secured before turning the keys at home. When we set out to plan how we were going to develop Mapify, we made this one of our key goals:
Mapify lives on the sweet spot between the worlds of a pre-planner and a post-planner. It gives you everything you would like to know only if you actually want to know it. If not, Mapify is your way to discover and become inspired. We are the tool you can take with you while travelling, even if you do not want to use it every single day.
So, when is it going to start?
No later than the end of November this year. With already more than a million lines of code, Mapify has become the largest software project I have ever worked on. There is still much to do, but we are positive to launch Mapify very soon.
I am extremely excited about what we are developing at Mapify and I believe this project has a very good shot at becoming a valuable tool for every globetrotter out there. While we are finalizing its very first public version, feel free to signup for our early access mailing list or message me on LinkedIn.
Travel planning will be easy, intelligent and fun. Soon!