Clip the Trip is a crowd-sourced travel guide, currently covering 200 cities, that wants to help users find those out of the ordinary experiences often only known about by locals.
The five-strong team is led by founder and chief executive Rohit Kumar who formerly worked for Google advertising, technology boss Karthik Srinivasan and adviser Anjali Ramachandran.
Clip spells out as Current Local Information Pack and the startup is not only focused on the local content but also in giving creators a share of its revenues.
It is currently self-funded but tells us it's about to complete a small angel round within the next few weeks.
Clip the Trip operates in the travel planning and booking market but says that besides a few regional players it doesn't really see any true competitors to the business model and the way it is approaching the problem.
"Most of the travel start-ups tend to focus on trip planning and booking including flights and hotels. TripAdvisor is probably the closest to what we are trying to do however even that is reviews of businesses/restaurants bars etc whereas Clip the Trip is focusing on theme-based crowd-sourced travel guides with an added USP of offering content creators a share of the advertising revenues."
Revenue is based on attracting high quality CPM-based advertising and the company has a partnership in place with Google’s Advertising Exchange to bring brand advertising to it. Content creators are offered half of the revenue generated from serving ads against their content.
Q&A with founder and chief executive Rohit Kumar
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
In our opinion the travel process is a bit broken at the moment. Today technology can help you find a great deal on a flight and hotel but once you know you are heading to Amsterdam the process breaks down. Most users would start with a search engine and get sucked into myriad of links, occasionally coming across good relevant content.
Clip the Trip is an open, crowd-sourced platform that has been created to make it easy for travellers to find relevant and interesting local information about a destination, written by people who know the city's ins and outs by virtue of being a resident or a regular visitor. Contributors create CLIPs, or (C)urrent (L)ocal (I)nformation (P) acks, about their favourite cities. Where is this weekend's must-visit pop-up restaurant in New York? Which bar in Mumbai has the most unusual decor? Where can I go in London to eat vegan food? Those are the kinds of things Clip the Trip hopes to uncover, by getting those in the know to share their expert knowledge with the wider world.
We realise that travel is very personal – a traveller heading to Stockholm with his girlfriend will be looking for a different experience from someone heading to the same destination with his wife and three young children. Users of the site can browse through and find CLIPs that match their interests. CLIPs have sections on where to eat, drink and things to see and do in a city. CLIPs can be based on themes so for example on our London page you might find a CLIP about London on a budget or top 10 fine dining restaurants in London or the Mexican influence in London.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Our content is entirely crowd sourced making it easy for travellers to find out about that pop up burger place in London or that hidden family-run restaurant in Istanbul. Our mission statement is to help people to travel like a local.
Secondly, we want to change the way people look at review writing and content sharing. Our content creators should use our website as we view them as true partners and stakeholders in the business by giving them half of the ad revenue we generate from their content. We think relevant, current destination content is priceless and we are already seeing that in the high CPMs generated by our ads.
We think too much great content is given away for free and want to change that. Our contributors are able to log in and view the total earnings their CLIPs have generated through an easy to use interface. We also make it easy for our writers to socialize their CLIPs with a simple integration with both Twitter and Facebook. The more views a CLIP has the more money the contributor will make. They win and we do too. We think that’s only fair.
Thirdly our writers can log on and edit their CLIPs at any time. This ensures that content on the site is always current. The user has an incentive to keep their CLIPs current and filled with useful information as our algorithm constantly learns from the actions on site – i.e. which CLIPs are generating views, downloads and shares and this affects the way in which we display it.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
In our first 10 weeks we will be using a selection of on and offline marketing to raise awareness for the brand. Post funding, we will be announcing a bunch of partnerships with other sites in the travel sector, which will help drive more users to site.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
At the moment Clip the Trip is laser focussed on making crowd-sourced destination content available for free and easily for our users around the world. We are currently supporting 200 cities, which we’d like to increase to 500. We also have a packed roadmap of features lined up for the next 12 months.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
Clip the Trip is my first start up. Prior to setting it up I worked in Google’s advertising business in the UK for more than 5 years. As a small scrappy start up Clip the Trip will undoubtedly make mistakes as we go along but we intend to learn quickly.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
The biggest problem facing the travel industry is the lack of innovation as highlighted by Andrey’s guest article earlier this week. There are far too many “me too” businesses focussing on booking services, trip planning or referral traffic to build revenue.
At Clip the Trip we believe that people know great things about the places they live in. We want to help travellers discover the hidden gems in a city through the unmatched knowledge of our local contributors. We also have a different approach to the discovery process where our users will be able to browse through multiple different perspectives about things to do in a city often theme based – best coffee shops in Brighton, American grub in London, alternative Amsterdam etc. We think that destination research should be as easy as booking the travel itself and Clip the Trip is our effort to try and fix that and make the research process fun and easy.
If we had a dollar/pound for every time we heard 'travel like a local' we might just be able to give up the day job. They all basically act as peer-to-peer marketplaces with various twists - some for accommodation (Localo), some for tours and activities (Localyte) and some that connect you with locals who then help you plan an itinerary (Tripbods) with varying commercial models.
Alex Bainbridge, a Tnooz node has written some excellent stuff on these marketplaces and the economics involved so the worry is how crowded this space already is.
Unlike many of the others Clip the Trip is not selling but it's reliant on people to be so enthused about their local area that they'll create some content and keep it updated so they get lots of clicks and therefore a bit of money. The payment for contribution model is sort of reminiscent of Simonseeks, which closed after two years because consumers were unwilling to pay for content so the advertising element here will be crucial.
All of that said the CLIPs - best places to eat, London on a budget etc - provide useful information, maps etc and the content doesn't appear to be your run of the mill stuff. There's also the ability to download them as a PDF and share via social networks.
As with all these marketplaces, Clip the Trip will need masses of content to appeal to a wide audience of different ages and interests and as it gains traction will need to organise the content so it's easy for users to get to what they want.
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