New trip-planning website Trovolo launched this month, a homegrown service made by travellers for travellers that encompasses a variety of tools.
Trovolo focuses on simple and effective online itinerary creation, breaking down travel planning into three steps: 1) Pick a destination; 2) Browse through activities; 3) Drag and drop activities into the calendar, and you’re good to go. You are then able to share your itinerary via social media or good old-fashioned email.
Trovolo then enables users to book everything right there through the site, automatically including essentials like maps, booking references, times and dates in your itinerary, which you can then save, send, update and print as you please. And the built-in budgeting tool is aimed at helping to keep you in the black.
Founder Phill Heur says Trovolo targets all leisure travellers, both national and international, within a broad age range of 20-60. While it's currently in launch phase, Trovolo has more than 100 Kiwi tourism providers signed up as members, including AJ Hackett,
Southern Discoveries, and Queenstown Rafting.
It all started in mid July 2012, when German-born Heur was interning at Upstart, a Dunedin based not-for-profit business incubator. According to an introductory post on the Trovolo blog, it was here that he came up with the idea of an "Amazon equivalent of the tourism industry". Fellow intern, US-born Michael Barker, and Kiwi programmer Cameron Chadwick joined Heur and they began the process of turning their ambitious idea into reality.
Finding a name for the site was the team’s first and perhaps greatest challenge so far. A number of long brainstorming sessions resulted in ‘Trovolo’, which combines the key word ‘travel’ with the Latin word ‘evolo’ meaning ‘escape’ or ‘get away’.
Extensive market research then revealed to the team that whilst there were a number of travel planning websites out there, there was no single site providing everything travellers want and need. After interviewing countless travellers, the team realised that to be successful Trovolo required three things: simplicity, visual appeal, and a space free of banner ads.
Admitting that they are "somewhat design illiterate" themselves, the Trovolo team chose to work with Dunedin design company Myth to create the drag and drop interface and social media integration.
And while most travel sites rely on advertising to some extent, true to its promise, there are no ads on Trovolo. Instead, the site generates revenue by charging businesses an annual membership fee (starting from $100) in order to list a detailed site profile including photographs, videos, pricing lists and contact information.