CHALLENGES OF A STARTUP IN THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY: TRIPCREATOR’S STORY
Hilmar Halldorsson is the founder and CEO of TripCreator, an interactive travel planner that gives users the tools to research, plan, and book their trip all in one place. Users indicate a few preferences (travel style, budget, desired pace) and receive a suggested plan that they can then totally customize. They can discover things to do, book their hotel and car rental, view their itinerary on a map or calendar, and then book it all with one click. In this article, he shares the insights he obtained from mounting his own company, and overcoming the challenges that he encountered along the way.
How did you come up with the idea of TripCreator?
I came up with the idea for TripCreator while planning a trip to British Columbia. I wanted an easy way to research, plan and book my trip, but there wasn’t a way to do that. There was no website where I could research, plan and book a uniquely customized trip with just a few clicks.
So I decided to try to make that perfect website on my own. I started sketching out some ideas for design and layout in 2008, but things really started coming together in the fall of 2011, when I won a competition to attend an Icelandic technology incubator. That’s when I really began to work on the idea that ultimately became TripCreator.
Which obstacles did you face?
TripCreator went live as beta in 2015 with one destination (Iceland), which proved our concept. We’ve since expanded to cover 20 destinations, with more on the way; we’ll cover most of Europe and parts of the US and Canada by the end of summer. Scaling is a challenge; we want to cover as many destinations as possible, but we need to ensure high quality, accurate information. To that end, we’ve contracted with a team of writers and we’ve hired a content quality manager.
We operate out of three offices–in Iceland, Lithuania, and the US–so staying in touch across multiple countries and time zones is critical. We use tools like Skype, Slack and Google Docs to make communication clear and efficient across teams.
Today, we’re constantly optimizing our program. One of the more recent additions was the budget slider (low to high budget) and pace slider (mellow to busy) to help refine the initial trip suggestions. We’re also adding additionally functionality to help users hone in on the type of trip they want to have–a city break, road trip, etc.
What is your advice to fellow entrepreneurs?
If you believe that you have the right idea, be firm about it with all who are around you: friends, family and investors. Don’t let them talk it/you down or manipulate it. Stay true to your vision. Entrepreneurship is hard work and requires dedication. If you are looking for nice and cozy, better not start. However, it is also rewarding. Working on your idea and seeing it come alive is a privilege.