Catherine "Cat" Seda

Monday, December 01, 2008

Extravigator Interview

Do you have a taste for luxury travel? Then consider joining Extravigator to trade tips with like-minded travel enthusiasts. With the abundance of travel communities on the web, Extravigator stands out by reaching out to a specific type of traveler. Dan Richman, founder of Extravigator, explains how NOT appealing to a mass market is best for his travel forum.

What is Extravigator?
Extravigator is an independent and open forum for world travelers, with discriminating taste, to share their advice and insider knowledge. Although it is free to join, not everyone who applies for membership is granted one. The application process is deceptively simple. Depending on what hotel people provide as their "favorite hotel" during the application process, we either grant or deny membership. It's a very informal way of weeding out those who do not fit the profile of our ideal member. Each application for membership is individually reviewed.

How many visits/unique visitors a month does your community have?
We launched in October 2007. Today we have roughly 4,000 unique visitors a month and growing. We also have about 850 members.

What are your community’s most popular features?
Photo uploads in comments.

How did you, and how do you today, grow your community?
Extravigator is a slow growing community. The main goal is to attract stylish travelers. It's not designed for mass market appeal. So, much of Extravigator's growth comes from word of mouth.

How do you measure your community’s success?
By the amount of participation in discussions. The home page of Extravigator currently states that there are now 227 discussions that have been started. On average, most discussions have between 3 to 6 comments in each discussion. Generally, the amount of discussion would be quantified as the number of comments per day. It's difficult to give a percentage of increased traffic since traffic has fluctuated significantly in the first year of operation. Oddly enough, the largest traffic spike came from an obscure web design blog named CSSMania. Other large traffic spikes came from blogs such as Luxist, All The Best, and an insignificant mention on Gawker. The LA Times also featured Extravigator in their Travel section earlier this year, but this was only detected from a large increase in traffic from Los Angeles. Most of these mentions often translated to a few hundred unique visitors for a 24-48 hour period and quickly tapered off after that.

At what point did (or will) Extravigator become a successful business?
In many ways, Extravigator already is a successful business. It's already made a slight profit in its first year. But it has a long way to go. The site will truly be successful when every discussion on the front page is less than 24 hours old at any given time.

How does Extravigator generate revenue?
Extravigtator has only had banner advertising since its inception. We are a member of the Halogen Publisher network.

Can you share a “sneak peek” at what you might do in 2009?
We're always looking for new ways to engage our members and get them talking about the best of travel...that's what we'll be focusing on in 2009. Right now we are focused on maintaining our traffic growth through the recession.


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