The Internet is flooded with information about places and travel information. But when you really want to go somewhere, its often of very little use. The biggest hurdle is getting all of it selectively organised for a particular trip or itinerary.
Back in 2011 Krishna Teja was facing a similar situation while planning his backpacking trip to Europe. He says, “While, the trip was quite enjoyable, the planning – not so much! On an average, I spent at least 2 to 3 hours every day for a month to plan this perfect trip. It was a nightmare to come up with a practical itinerary.”
Some of the issues he faced were that it was hard to find information based on your interests, there was also a ton of outdated information and and the lack of local perspective on places.
So he decided to solve the issue and started Thinkplaces.
Thinkplaces is a peer to peer travel advisory service that intends to solve problems that travelers face today. Using the service you can find travel experts in your desired destination, with similar interests and schedule calls with them to help you with planning your travel itinerary.
You can start using the service by searching their network and find a travel expert that matches your criteria, like an Adventure Holiday Expert For India in case you planning to go on an mountaineering or trekking holiday to Ladakh or the North East of India.
You can now schedule a call, for a charge, with your chosen expert by providing your availability, interests etc. so that the expert is prepared before the call.
At the scheduled time, you can connect with the expert over Skype and plan your trip. The service will also give you access to the itinerary builder, through which the expert can add notes and points on the map in real time to plan your custom itinerary. This way, the expert and you can collaborate to plan the trip itinerary.
Once the itinerary is prepared and published by the expert, it will appear in your message center. The customer will also get a virtual tour of his itinerary (where ever Google street view is available),” says Krishna
The company says that speaking to an experienced traveler may save you hours of browsing, curating and filtering time.
In order to maintain a high quality of experts they are required by the service to meet at least 3 out of 4 following requirements:
The expert’s articles have been featured on popular publications like Forbes Travel, Nat Geo, Lonely planet, New York Times etc.
The expert has written a guidebook or has covered the place professionally on several assignments.
The expert has written several blog posts about the place.
The expert has travelled extensively and lived in the place for at least 3 years.
Thinkplaces currently has experts for 61 countries on their network.
On an average an experts charges around $30 for a 20 minute consultation slot. This includes consultation time of 20 min or 40 min or 1 hour ( depending on the number of days the trip is), a customized itinerary created during the call and answering follow up questions regarding the itinerary planned.
The service takes a 15% commission on each these transaction i.e. if an expert charges $30, the service gets $4.5 and the expert keeps the rest.
The company is currently bootstrapped and has raised money from family and friends.
One of the main strongholds of the service is that unlike a travel agent, experts have spend a lot of their time actually travelling the world and also stay up-to-date on the latest things in travel. And as they don’t make any commission on the recommendations they make, so they will not push any hotel, route or product without first hand experience.
The company plans to incorporate a VOIP system to connect travelers with experts in the future.
The next time you are planning a trip and want an expert advice in planning your itinerary, give Thinkplaces a try.
Another interesting startup in the travel space is Tripoto, which has taken a crowdsourced approach to creating itineraries. The service brings together travellers from around the world to share and discover – real, actionable, crowd-sourced travel stories and presents it through beautiful visually appealing content.