Making the world your oyster

Part of the Xebidy Strategic Design team (from left) Joaquin Montero, director Dan Roberts, Sam...
Part of the Xebidy Strategic Design team (from left) Joaquin Montero, director Dan Roberts, Sam Tihen, Veronica Ramirez, Chris Rae and Mat Weir, who are behind Travel Generation, a new web tool for savvy travellers. Photo by Felicity Wolfe.
Queenstown-based Xebidy Strategic Design is not well known to many locals, but its network of fans around the world is about to boom as its latest project comes on stream.

Travel Generation is a new internet-based tool for travellers. It bookmarks websites as they build itineraries of places to stay, things to do and how to get there.

Xebidy director Dan Roberts said there were limitations to standard bookings websites in that the "travel planner is only as good as its database . . . constrained by a finite number of products they've been contracted to use".

Instead, his concept to "build a site without a database", allows users to make their own.

The information can be transferred to an i-phone or other mobile device or accessed through the internet.

The "really special . . . unique" tool which allows that to happen is the bookmarking system - created in Queenstown by Xebidy.

"Travellers can have a page with their hotel, a bungy jump booking and their airline confirmation all in the same place . . . and they can share their itinerary with friends and family."

In a world where people's lives are found online on Facebook, and strangers post their thoughts daily on Twitter, it is Travel Generation's sharing potential Mr Roberts is excited about.

The site is paid for by advertising. While Mr Roberts is "looking at other models" to fund it, he is aware the whole point of social networking sites is they are free and open to all.

Accolades have already started flowing.

The bookmarking tool is still in a limited beta stage with 200 users, but Travel Generation's blog site was recently named by Lonely Planet the second most influential group-authored travel blog in its Travel Blog '09 Awards.

"Travel Generation was only launched in October so that recognition came within six months," Mr Roberts said.

There is currently a waiting list for those interested in joining Travel Generation.

However, people can go to the website's homepage to register.

Mr Roberts said there are about 800 people on the waiting list, and a few more are allowed into the site's travel itinerary page each week.

Mr Roberts expected the site would be open to all users by the end of the year.

The website is the company's core project, but as its development over the past two years was funded purely by Mr Roberts, the business has also been developing websites and online marketing strategies for clients, such as AJ Hackett Bungy and Oz Experience.

"Most of them are in the travel industry . . . that is my background," Mr Roberts said.

He said the company is gaining a reputation for "specialising in the hard stuff" - websites that make the most of online marketing by creating relationships with customers.

"It is concept site development," he said.

Mr Roberts said people should not be afraid of using the internet as a marketing tool, because it was both cost-effective and targeted.

"If a customer wants to attract female snowboarders from England and Europe between the ages of 20 and 25 I can do that," he said.

"And then I can come back to them with data that shows how many looked at the site and how long they looked at it."

• To register for Travel Generation go to www.travelgeneration.com.

 

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