Day 15 of #productidea — Travel Planner for Road trips

This is part of my #productidea 30 day challenge on which each day I write about a new product idea.

Let me start by saying this shouldn’t be a commercial project (reasons are explained here). There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of attempts to create a great travel planner. I led one of them, TouristEye, and we were really proud of what we achieved. We built one of the most used map-based trip planners. People loved it and it was featured by Google.

However, we couldn’t do everything we had in mind. We had to choose between city trips and road trips, and we chose the former. We still feel sorry about the decision, although it made logical sense. It allowed us to focus, grow our user base and engagement rate and ultimately sold the company to Lonely Planet. But every time one of us organizes a road trip, he/she misses it.

I still check out every travel planner that is launched and no one has still figured out the best experience for road trips. There are two main reasons:

  • You need the best travel data available in order to prioritize which towns and sites to show. There are close to zero companies with that data. One of them could be Michelin Guides (they rate sites from 0 to 3 stars) and the other could potentially be TripAdvisor (if they remove all the commercial POIs and stop using their unproductive 5-star rating system).
  • The interface changes a lot if you focus on big cities or small towns. To plan a road trip you need a great overview of the best sites on the road, knowing how much time you should be on each site and how much it will take you to reach it. You don’t want to see too much data, too many villages or too much road info.

If you fix those two things, you could make the best travel planner available for road trips. Not an easy objective unfortunately because of the lack of great data. Someday it’ll be achieved.