This Might be a Bigger Problem Than I Originally Thought

Every week on this startup journey continues to be more and more interesting. As we continue to meet with potential investors and partners, advisors, explore tweaks to the business model, build out the prototype … our message gets better and we seem to be on an accelerated learning curve. When I say “learning” – in addition to the obvious learnings about running a company, the travel industry, angel and venture capital networks and so forth – we are also learning a ton about ourselves and what we are attempting to do with travelabulous.

Let me go into an example from this week, including the inspiration we drew from the experience.

As part of the GrindSpaceXL program, Masha and I were in a session on sales and marketing. One of the really interesting things came out of the session for me was thinking about the problem we are solving in terms of how big it is and how burning of a need it is in the market.

To protect the consultant’s intellectual property I will use my vocabulary here and not hers. In addition, I love thinking about technology the way Clayton M. Christensen does – “When people need to get a job done, they hire a product or service to do it for them.” This really got me thinking: how much of a pain in the ass is it to do the job of “travel planning” using the products and services people have available to them today?

(As a related aside, Christensen is clearly a big fan of Ted Levitt – who used to teach at Harvard Business School and tell his students, “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill–they want a quarter-inch hole.”  Something you should always remember when building any product or service.)

With that squirrel gone, let’s get back on the depth of the pain related to the “job” of travel planning today. Let’s look at the following categorization:

– critical  … hopefully not a travel problem at all, other than crisis 
– barrier … I give up and don’t book travel and stay home – or don’t extend a business trip for pleasure
– frustrating … It takes way too long, gets me in a bad mood and I feel like I am likely missing good stuff
– nuisance … I really don’t enjoy it, it takes too long, but I get the job done
– no problem … I don’t have a problem with travel planning

Clearly the “no problem” people are not our target customer (although some day they may see the light 🙂 ) and the “critical” travel problems are not in our space either.

The most interesting thing about this exercise was the facilitator’s own categorization of the travel planning problem from her perspective. She pointed out that she has an upcoming trip in mind for March and April but she is already rethinking it solely due to the fact that she dreads the thought of planning it. She literally falls into the “barrier” category.

I was thinking this was a “frustrating” or “nuisance” problem that we are solving. Now, I am even more motivated with the possibility that some people might be giving up on great potential trips because they can’t stomach the thought of booking them!

So with that, we are about to launch a social strategy. One part of the strategy will include a survey asking which of the problem categories people slot travel planning into today. If you want to help us in the meantime, please comment below on what category of problem travel planning is for you personally, or email me directly, or drop us a line at

’til next time … Kirk, out.

One thought on “This Might be a Bigger Problem Than I Originally Thought

  1. I fall into the barrier category as well. There are way too many options out there. And i’m never sure if an option that I find on the mainstream travel sites (like expedia) are giving me a good deal. I also feel that its tough to get a site that takes you door-to-door to your destination, and helps you build an itinerary while you are there. This process is quite manual. Ideally I would love a world where I set the parameters of my trip, and what type of experience I am looking for, and the engine continually scans for such opportunities that meet the parameters I set (i.e climate, culture, time frame and budget) and if its able to let me know who in my social network recommends the location that I can double check with—my decision making would be made a lot easier. Also the ability to layer in criteria such as “family friendly” and have options for ‘baby sitting’ and ‘car seat’ automatically considered as a must have in my itinerary—that would be great. Also some indication of how good a deal I am getting would be awesome too. Hope this helps!!! Good luck building it!!

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