Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our most requested feature is now live!

Have you been to 30 countries and 50 cities?  But your Traverie profile shows that you've only been to 20 countries and 30 cities?  Or worse yet 1 country and 1 city?  Now you can tell the world how awesome a traveler you actually are!  Or just to keep track of it (in a place more fun than Excel or TripAdvisor).

Currently the way we work is that we automatically figure out where you have been based on the content you have shared on Facebook in the past.  When we do that, we may not gather everything because you took a trip before Facebook was invented in 2004 or because are algorithms are not perfect yet (yes, we are constantly iterating on that!).

Today we introduce our most requested feature on Traverie - the ability for you to 'check off' destinations you have been to!  As you browse your friends' photos in our 'dream' mode you may run into destinations that you have been to but it doesn't say so.  You can simply click the 'Been there?' button next to the destination's name (as shown in the screenshot below) to indicate that you've traveled there in the past!

As soon as you do that, your 'map' will now show green checks for all the places you checked off!


Additionally your travel 'profile' will now show an incremented count for cities, countries and/or continents!


So visit Traverie today to let your friends know how many places you have actually been to!  Remember your friends are always seeing your pictures to get travel ideas from your unique experiences.

Happy Travels,
Gaurav

Friday, September 7, 2012

I have a week off, where should I go next?

Travel is relaxing and probably the best 2 or 3 weeks in your year.  However, figuring out where to go in those 2 or 3 weeks can be mind-numbing and stressful.  This is typically 2 to 3 months before you actually fly out.  Where do you even start?  Go to Google and type where should I go?  That won't work, trust us.

So how about a magazine like experience that brings you collages of destinations that are best suited to you?  And to further personalize this, how about showing you pictures from people you know and trust?  Don't you love seeing your friends' pictures on Facebook anyway?

We call this the "Dream" experience in Traverie!  When you log into Traverie, you can click on the "Dream" tab on the top that will take you directly to the dream experience.  We pick a different destination each time that is best suited to your taste!  And we figure a lot of this out based on your past travel behavior that you shared through your albums, checkins and status updates on Facebook!  To see more destinations simply flip to the next destination by clicking the - yes - "Next Destination" on the top right.  Don't worry you can always go back using the "Prev" button.


In the dream, mode you can see collages from different friends' travels to a destination.  For example, above I can see photos of Kyoto from my five different trips my friends took there.  You'll find that your friends travel quite differently and you'll discover amazing experiences through them.

If you come across a photo or destination that you really like, you can simply save it for the future!  You can hover your mouse over that photo and click "Add to {Destination} Bucket List".  Or you can click on the photo that will take you to a single photo view, where you can click "Want to go".  Once you have added a photo, you automatically create a "Bucket List" for that destination!


You can always access your created "Bucket Lists" from the drop down on the header as shown below.  So start dreaming and creating bucket lists for all these amazing destinations your friends have been to and you never knew about!




Thursday, September 6, 2012

I wonder where my friends have been ...

Ever wonder where your friends have traveled to? Or which of your friends have been to Barcelona or New Zealand? Or even better what if you could see what your friends' travel experiences were for those trips?

Traverie helps you with these questions and more. Our mission is to help you "Explore Travel Through Friends" in a way thats natural and fun. We don't want you to dig through Facebook to find this information or get a headache with search results and reviews you don't trust.

After you log into Traverie, the "Map" tab represents a view of the world through your and your friends' travels.  You can click on the buttons next to "YOU" and "YOUR FRIENDS" to select or unselect any of the options.  By default all options are selected.  (Note initially the orange "Want to go" and pink "Visiting" tabs won't do anything.  Only after you start creating "Bucket Lists" will they appear.)  We always get this question so I thought I'll clarify this - the strip of photos you see below are picked for you based on recency and relevancy - think of this as our initial version of a visual newsfeed!



The blue bubbles represents where your friends have been and live!  The size of the bubble indicates how many of your friends have been there or live there - the bigger the bubble the more popular the place. You'll probably find cities such as New York and London have large blue bubbles.  You can click on any of these blue bubbles to see which of your friends have been there and get a glimpse of their experience.  If any friends do live there, they'll show up as well (not shown in the example below)!


You can click into any of these pictures from your friend's travels to that destination, to bring up what we call the "Dream" destination view.  Here (see below) you can see all of your friends that have been there at the top.  The first friend in the strip is selected by default, and you see a beautiful collage of her travel experiences.  We try and highlight the photos we think are best for you here!  Such as the shark diving pictures from my friend Joshua below!  And of course you can click into any of those photos.


This is just one of many ways to dream and discover on Traverie.  Try this out today at www.traverie.com for South Africa or any of the destinations that your friends have been to! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yet another tech travel startup?

Another tech travel startup?  That's the first sentiment I get when I talk to investors or someone in the industry.

Here's what makes us different: Our team and our passion. Wait a minute, doesn't every founder say that about his team? Of course. Can most of them back it up with experiences that have made up their life so far? Probably not. So let me tell you a little bit about us, at the risk of sounding conceited. But I think it is important. We won't talk about our experience, since you can find that here.

I grew up in Mumbai, India and I still clearly remember that one class in middle school where my teacher described her trip to Machu Pichu and I still bother my wife about making a trip there soon. I stood first in Geography and History in India in high school and growing up I had three dreams - to become an astronaut.  to travel the world and to create a teleporting machine. I failed miserably at the first, clearly. I think I'm starting to realize the second having traveled to 5 continents and 26 countries in the past 5 years while being fully employed. As a child I was obsessed with building things and my favorite was an airport Lego set. Traverie is realizing my third dream of building a teleporting-like machine for everyone!

It doesn't end there. I met my wife in San Francisco, but only fell in love with her when we started traveling the world together. And guess what my wife does for a living?  Of course she's in the hospitality industry. We have a running joke between us - there is not a single day when someone in our immediate families is not traveling! We got married two years ago in Goa, a Portugese beach destination, after convincing our parents to have a destination wedding. I don't think either of us ever imagined getting married anywhere but in a beach destination! And that's where Tiffany comes in.

Founder stories are usually not that fun - high school buddies, co-workers etc. But this is how I met Tiffany. She showed up at my wedding in Goa, her first trip to India, as a plus-one.  Not only did she show up across the globe not knowing me or my wife, but she danced on stage to choreographed Bollywood music with my wife - talk about indulging in the culture! After that she traveled to Delhi where she stayed with my sister enroute to Agra and Jaipur. I've not met too may people who have traveled as much as Tiffany has at such a young age.  What are the most interesting stories I found?  Her determination to make a trip to Cuba by sneaking into the country through Mexico and her flying over Victoria Falls in Zambia.

Jimming, our technical co-founder, has the most incredible stories that we only find out through casual conversations. I only recently found out that Jimming was building the official Harvard "facebook" while Zuck was building the unofficial one. Other mysteries I did not know about Jimming - he swam from Alcatraz to SF, loves diving across the world with Belize being his favorite destination (he's currently diving in the Yucatan peninsula) and he had a six-pack at the age of 13. When I first got to know him, I remember him telling me that he travels pretty much every other weekend since his family is spread across the entire country. And what's more, he went all the way to Europe to buy his car and drive it on the Autobahn.

In all, we have traveled to over 50 countries and over 25 each. People who have helped us include a Berkeley MBA student, Sanjay, who has traveled to 66 countries and our summer social media intern, Jennie, who lived in places such as China, Ecuador and Singapore in the past year while studying at Berkeley.  You probably get how passionate we are.

You've often heard that its great when the founders are the end users of their product. Not only are we the end users, we are extreme, critical users who have personally faced the challenge of discovering and making decisions about travels with the plethora of data available. What incepted the idea?  I was planning a trip to India and Singapore and we wanted to take a side trip for a week. After weeks of hunting through two dozen sites and buying books, we were more confused than ever. Talking to a friend who travels like crazy made our decision certain, trusted and quick. Tiffany and Jimming have their own interesting or rather depressing stories of travel discovery and decision making. And once we started asking around we found that almost everyone makes their decision using their friend's advice!

We believe there is no better educational experience than delving into the history, culture, people and food of different places. And we want every single person to experience that! What does our "office" climate feel like - we probably spend a couple of hours everyday just talking about our different travel experiences and dreaming together. Join us on our journey at www.traverie.com!

Happy travels,
Gaurav

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What is Traverie and why is it spelled like that?

So what really is Traverie? Why does it not end with a 'y'? What does it do for me? All great questions. And I'll attempt to answer these while, hopefully, keeping it interesting.

Traverie is derived from 'Travel' and 'Reverie'. If you're not an English literature major, reverie is defined as 'A state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts; a daydream'. So in essence, Traverie means 'Dreaming of Travel'.


Think about the last time you were at dinner with a friend who just returned from Tuscany and she described to you the farmhouse they stayed in, the rustic medieval towers they climbed, and the heavenly Brunellos they drank from a hilltop overlooking harvesting vineyards. Or perhaps that time over martinis in the neighborhood bar where a buddy was telling you about his adventures in Patagonia where he went hiking on a glacier, went for walks among thousands of flamingos and had the most tender lamb in his life. Listening to those experiences makes you start dreaming of your next travels yet?  

That's the experience we are bringing to you with Traverie!

Think of us as an interactive travel magazine with photos and other content from people you know and trust! Like in the 90s you would order hard copy magazines of Travel+Leisure to help you explore ideas for your next vacation, we are a 2012 version where the content is visual and highly personalized to you. Unlike traditional magazines, guide books and other editorial marketing material, we strive to be a trustworthy source for you where we bring you content from sources you completely trust. We know that 92% of you prefer recommendations from friends rather than reviews from people you don't know, ads or books. 

And its from people you actually know so you ask them questions about specific experiences or friend-source information in an easy organized way.  You don't need to ask "What should I do in Greece?" as a Facebook status update anymore and receive responses such as "I'm jealous!".  You can actually collect information that you are looking for from people who are dying to tell you (P.S remember people travel to tell you their stories!). Also remember the time when you cut out pages from magazines and saved them into a folder? We let you seamlessly collect any photos you find interesting into your own bucket lists. Its that easy!

Have you ever tried finding anything on Facebook lately? For example, what if you wanted to see pictures from all your friend's trips to Tanzania?  How would you possibly do that on Facebook?  We're here to help you with that! We have millions of little elves that dig into all of your friends' pictures and other data on Facebook. After we have found the most relevant information for you, we organize it so you see the places that are relevant to your style, the friends that most travel like you, and photos that are most interesting to you. That's why we ask you for all those permissions when you sign up - so we can do the best job in providing you the best possible experience! Don't worry we are very worried about privacy ourselves, so we make sure your data is locked up in the safe. And yes we will be integrating with Picasa, Flikr, Instagram and others to bring you the best of your photos.  

A couple of questions I often get - but I don't have pictures on Facebook. Its less about your pictures but more about all the pictures your friends have shared that you did not know existed. Almost every user has told us that they found albums and pictures that they had never seen on Facebook.  The other question I get - but my friends are horrible photographers and do they really have that many pictures?  First, you are underestimating your friends - with modern technology even a bad photographers photos look incredible. And I guarantee you'll be shocked at how good some of those pictures are.  With respect to volume, here is something to mull on - You can see my map above.  I have 560 friends currently. They have been to 120 countries, have 3000 albums and 1 million photos just on Facebook! Trust me, you'll have plenty of content!  

We are far from perfect yet (remember the early days of Google?) and we're still in beta, but with your support and feedback we aspire to become your fun, trusted travel source available online and on your mobile devices!  

If you're already a user, continue dreaming. And if you aren't join our journey at www.traverie.com!

Happy travels,
Gaurav