Ever since we moved to Europe, one of our first objectives was to travel as much as possible. With flights as low as €20, it would be a crime not to visit all the amazing cities that are just 2–3 hours away in any direction.
As soon as we started planning our 2nd (or 3rd) trip, we noticed a trend. Because we didn’t know anybody living in the places we were visiting, we had only two options to put together a trip:
a) Go online and look-up sites such as TripAdvisor for “pre-made” itineraries that would sort of fit into our schedule and budget.
b) Ask our local friends who had visited those cities what places they would recommend.
This is fine, but time consuming. A 3-day trip to Munich would take us several hours of research to put together. If you do that once a year, it would be fun, but doing the same research over and over again for 4 or 5 trips a year, it was starting to get old.
It was the end of October 2014 when my wife (and CMO) came up with an interesting thought: “What if you build a site that would automatically plan any trip for you based on your companions and interests?” That sounded complicated but doable.
Came 2015 and I had already started coding the site as a side project based on that premise. Ideally, your profile would contain certain settings such as the people you travel with, your interests, age, etc and different algorithms would analize places from the city you are visiting and put together a trip that would match those settings.
Going a bit into the technical side of things, I decided to take the opportunity to steer the technologies of the project into new waters. I had never touched React before nor Laravel, so it was a good opportunity to get started using those technologies and learn something new while coding something I was truly passionate about. As they say: your own projects are the best way to venture into new technologies.
Ideally the project would be done sometime in 2016. Most of the scaffolding was done and the algorithms were in place. That’s when we decided to take it for a spin for one of our trips.
It was a failure.
The machine would put together what we called a “cold” trip. It added a bunch of places in the city we were visiting, which looked fine, but we still weren’t sure if those places were worth visiting. How can the machine know if a place is worth visiting if it doesn’t know me?
We dediced to revisit the original premise:
When you plan a trip, you go online or ask friends about where to go.
We personally trust our friends more than we trust a random website. So our friends’ recommendations would have higher priority over any other itinerary we could find online. We decided to turn Compassity into a platform that people could use to ask their friends for recommendations on what places they should visit.
This meant a full redesign of the backend, database structure, UI and UX. The algorithms I had written had to be scrapped and I had to start coding pretty much from scratch. We missed the 2016 launch by 2 years.
Here we are in 2018, opening the doors of Compassity to users who want to add a social element to their trip planning. Whether you are traveling to another city 30 minutes away, or going somewhere in the other side of the world, your friends and family are the best people to ask for recommendations.
So the next time you are planning that dream trip to Paris, give Compassity a shot by creating a trip and sharing it with your friends. It would be interesting to see what the “real” best places are in the city of love and romance.
Oh and if you haven’t already, watch our introductory video to find out how Mary’s trip to Barcelona became truly unforgettable.
Founder of Compassity