What is Travellerspoint?
Our corporate objective is to "enrich the travelling experience by offering services, content and products that have significant perceived and added value for travellers worldwide.” In plain English, I'd say we try and create features that are not only useful for travellers on the road, but also help bring them together to share their thoughts, ideas and values.
When did you launch Travellerspoint?
We first discussed the idea for Travellerspoint in a MSN Messenger session in the middle of 2002, while I was living in the Netherlands and my brother, Peter, was living in Australia. Just three months later we launched Travellerspoint. (Check out a screenshot from the early days.)
How many visitors does your community have?
30,000 unique visitors per day, 3 million page views per month, members in over 220 countries.
What are your community’s most popular features?
The forum is a favourite. Because we code all our features ourselves, we can put in place great anti-spam solutions to keep it one of the cleanest and most spam-free travel forums out there. The photography and blogs features are two other favourites, and we're working especially hard to have our wiki travel guide added to that list!
How did you, and how do you today, grow your community?
Early on it was primarily by reaching out to other travel sites to get the word out. I think it was much easier to get a personal connection back then with other website owners than it is today, but today getting your new site on TechCrunch will get you the kind of early publicity we could only dream of back in 2002. Then again, early articles on Lonely Planet and a feature on the BBC World program 'Click Online' were big boosts for us too. Today, it's through a mix of member referrals, pay-per-click, Facebook and search engine traffic.
At what point did Travellerspoint become a successful business?
From early 2004, both Peter and I have been working full time on the site and paying ourselves a modest salary from site revenues for that work. If that's the definition of “successful business” then early 2004 is probably the point, so about 1.5 years after starting up. Obviously, we worked a year and a half with no salary, so an investor wouldn't view that the same way.
How do you measure your community’s success?
Personally, I think member count, forum/photo/blog and wiki contributions are the most important. Traffic will generally increase based on those metrics. Press mentions are especially fun to monitor, but I don't find them particularly representative of the health of a community. There are plenty of sites out there that get a lot of press mention due to their founders/investors and have disappeared 6-12 months later.
How does Travellerspoint make money?
It's currently a combination of advertising and sales of products/services (accommodations, insurance, RTW tickets, etc.).
Can you share a “sneak peek” at what you might do in 2009?
One thing we're really excited about is our new Social Bookings concept. This has just been released out of beta in our budget accommodation area. Early feedback is extremely promising and it combines the best of online and offline worlds together.