Mr Arlo gets in on social travel planning with blogger element for local flavourNewsBy Linda Fox | March 28, 2013Share This article was originally published on With a background in online retail and after hours of frustration with the travel search and booking experience, Chuck Job decided to create Mr Arlo.The social travel planning startup is staffed by a team of four with Job as founder and chief product officer, Adam Dill, chief technology officer, Chuck Jensen, head of business development and Sylvia France, head of marketing.The business, which is running so far on seed funding, angel investors and private investment, is going after a slice of the $313bn online travel market although knows it is fighting in a competitive arena with many already established players.The revenue model is commissions and marketing fees from suppliers of hotel, cars, activities and other products. Additionally technology transaction fees will be earned through business clients. Mr Arlo is adamant profitability will be via traffic and conversion as opposed to advertising or paid placement.Q&A with Chuck Job, founder and chief product officerDescribe what your start-up does, what problem it solves (differently to what is already out there) and for whom?Mr. Arlo simplifies travel discovery - by leveraging your social networks. We show you where your friends have stayed, where they've eaten and what things they recommend doing while there. This allows you to make better travel decisions, because you probably trust your friends over someone you’ve never met writing review on another site.Why should people or companies use your start-up?Mr. Arlo simplifies travel discovery by pushing you recommendations of hotels and activities based on your social media interactions and those of your friends. Now people don’t have to search hundreds of different sites to learn about a location and what to do there. It is all on one site and the trip can be purchased in one place.Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?We're partnering with popular travel bloggers - these bloggers will have the unique opportunity to write experiential content and earn revenue from the sale of travel products from those cities in exchange for becoming Mr. Arlo advocates. This will give us access to millions of users.How did your initial idea evolve? Were there changes/any pivots along the way? What other options have you considered for the business if the original vision fails?It was from personal experience. We were trying to book a trip and spent hours having to do our own research, planning and booking all the different parts on different sites. We thought surely this can be done in an easier, less stressful way. One of the main focuses of our product moving forward is better planning tools. We feel that’s one area in online travel where others fall short.Where do you see yourselves in 3 years time, what specific challenges do you hope to have overcome?We will have the most comprehensive travel site that enriches the traveller's experience from planning to booking. There are a few challenges that we’ll need to overcome like user acquisition and trust.What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another start-up to help it out?Online booking options haven’t really evolved in the past ten years. Online travel booking sites are really just places to show a ton of options for hotels and travel and let the consumer research what they think is best for them. This can be overwhelming. The sites don’t get people excited about going to beautiful places, but simply provide links for consumers to visit a myriad of hotels and restaurant sites to see what they have to say for themselves. Booking travel should be exciting, not exhausting. Mr. Arlo makes the planning fun again.Tnooz view: This is a nice looking site with interesting elements such as live feeds about what others are searching for/interested in and activity suggestions thrown in with accommodation listings. The big worry however how many startups are already playing in the social travel planning game, Gogobot et al, without even mentioning how deeply sites such as TripAdvisor are integrating with Facebook. Mr Arlo doesn't feel different enough right now but that online retail experience is bound to be an advantage for the team when it comes to traffic and conversion. The blogger involvement is a potential point of differentiation and reminiscent of Simonseeks which ran into business model problems and shut up shop in May 2011 after two years. However, the big difference there was consumers were expected to pay for the editorial content. As with many startups it will come down to driving consumers to the site, providing them with exciting content and destination expertise and building enough trust to push them to purchase.Share this quote NB:TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.