The Three Act Story

Wow!  Over a week since my last blog. Too long, but I will cut myself some slack as it was a busy week to prepare for the travel startup.  A ton of research this past week – both primary and secondary.

In terms of primary research, it has been informal but relentless.  My poor friends, colleagues and basically everyone I meet on the street is getting inundated with questions on what they think about a travel site which is really more of a personal travel concierge.  Are they frustrated with current travel sites?  Is travel planning a massive pain?  How would they expect to pay for travel planning?  Is the experience I am describing sound useful?  Enjoyable even?  Well, for those that have endured – thank you!  The feedback has been very reaffirming as well as useful in terms of tweaking our thinking.

The secondary research has been even more plentiful.  Everything from how travel API work to statistics on online travel agencies (OTA) to global distribution systems (GDS) to the hotel business to commissions from airlines to the impact of social reviews to travel revenues to … well … everything you wanted to know about travel but were afraid to ask.  I have jammed another pile of acronyms into my brain.  I don’t want to bore you with this class of secondary research with one exception.  Would you be surprised to find out that hotel searches to bookings on Expedia is only about 3.5% (and this is where they make the most money)?  The vast majority of people use OTA sites like Expedia but then go directly to the hotel brand site (or the telephone even) to make the booking.  Do you think there is an opportunity for a better experience here?!?!

The one piece of secondary research that I came across twice this week, and one I did want to share in some detail, is the three act story or what Simon Sinek refers to as the Golden Circle.   The first time I came across it (again) was when a friend sent a link to Sinek’s youtube presentation from 2009.  I had seen this before, but it had been a couple of years and was a great refresher.  Although I am not a big fan of Sinek’s style, it is worth the 18 minutes or so if you haven’t seen it before.   Then, today at an Invest Ottawa-hosted seminar on Design Presentation with Your RIGHT BRAIN by Osamu Wakabayashi of Zen Ideas – which was a great presentation on presenting – the storytelling technique came up again.

Here it is as as represented by Sinek:


The idea is that most people think, represent their ideas, and present from the outside in.  In other words, they talk about what they do (or their product does), then how they work, and finally (often only if pushed) why they work that way.  However, great leaders and successful people and companies work from the inside out.  The validated idea is that people are more concerned about the why than the what or the how.   Examples Sinek used were Steve Jobs (he specifically used Apple, but let’s face it, a company doesn’t present, people do), Reverend Martin Luther King Jr and the Wright brothers.

In today’s presentation on presenting, Wakabayashi made the same point in his presentation.  He strongly suggested that all presentations be made as a three act story telling the why, then the how and wrapping with the what (vs. the regular presentation of who – what – how – why).

So what is the point?  The travel startup now has enough validation – on market need, business model, and our technical approach – that it is time to look for strategic advisors and investors.  The Golden Circle really made me take one last sober look at whether or not we were doing this for the right reason.  Well, this is the way we have been describing it.  I hope it cuts mustard.

Travel provides some of the best experiences in many people’s lives.  Travel planning is typically the opposite.  We fundamentally believe that the travel experience should start at the beginning of planning.  Imagine a web and mobile experience of a personal travel concierge – someone who knows your likes and dislikes – to everyone who travels.  Whether it is full trip planning to filling in free time on a business trip, we are your single source for personalized travel experiences.

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