Fortnighter aims to bring travel writer trip itineraries to the massesNewsBy Kevin May | July 8, 2011Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based Fortnighter, a platform to create customised travel itineraries produced by travel writers.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?Fortnighter was created by a team of four individuals from the world of travel publishing, advertising, music and media. Tallied together, we average 500,000 air miles a year.The company includes Alexander Basek, a contributor to Travel + Leisure, the New York Post and the co-author of several Fodor’s guidebooks; Colin Nagy from the Barbarian Group and Noah Brier, entrepreneur and co-founder of Percolate.What financial support did you have to launch the business?Fortnighter is entirely self-funded so far.What problem are you trying to solve?Whenever we travel, we frequently ask for recommendations from friends and associates, but not everyone has a well-versed contact that is interested in the same things.We're seeking to make travel better and more insightful for everyone. Our motivation is helping a user find your ideal hotel, giving them directions to a locals-only beach or telling them about that store where they want to buy one of everything.And, unlike other travel planning and research services, our writers do not receive a bonus for pushing our users to book a specific hotel.Describe the business, core products and services?Fortnighter provides travel itineraries custom-tailored to individual tastes. Enter preferences into our questionnaire and you’ll receive a pdf made just for you with a daily rundown of what to see, where to eat and where to stay on your next trip one week later.It costs $100 for a three-day itinerary, $150 for a five-day and $200 for a seven-day. As Fortnighter expands, the site will offer itineraries of different lengths, tweaks to the questionnaire to integrate social media preferences from services such as Hunch and Foursquare and the ability to match users to preexisting itineraries in the Fortnighter system.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Our key customers are travelers looking for intelligence on an upcoming trip. The service isn’t for everyone; it costs money but we feel that the right audience will find a lot of value.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?The idea was born in part from demand from friends and family, all of whom were clamoring for a rundown of a city one of us had recently visited. Fortnighter opens that resource to everyone.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?We split the revenue from the itineraries with the writers, keeping 25% for ourselves. Therefore, Fortnighter started banking revenue from the first itinerary we sold. As we expand, we hope to add to our partnerships and develop a further family of products to build atop that core of itinerary sales.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: Our team, both internal, who bring experience from a variety of industries and understand the world of travel, to the external roster of writers, who have expertise around the globe. Weaknesses: People expect information instantly. Because an itinerary isn’t made by an algorithm but rather by hand each time by a writer, they have to wait a few days and that may frustrate some people looking for immediate gratification. Opportunities: Unlike some of our competitors, we actually like to travel and understand both the process and the needs of our customers from our own personal experience. We think this understanding will help remain nimble as we develop our product and add new services. Threats: There are plenty of other services out there that are similar to ours, whether they rely on efficiencies of having someone in a foreign country do Internet research or are meant to be an add-on to selling a hotel room. We hope that users won’t be confused by this and will understand that Fortnighter is about improving the travel experience, not selling room nights.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?You need only to fire up Google to find out who doesn’t think this idea would be successful: TripAdvisor is at the top of most all travel searches, and it’s always popular to claim that content has no value.We’re saying the opposite, that expertise does have an inherent value, and that people are willing to pay to access it.What is your success metric 12 months from now?Twelve months from now, I hope one of us goes on vacation and sees, by happenstance, someone using a Fortnighter itinerary. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.