SnappyGo wants to be the eHarmony of travel planningNewsBy Kevin May | March 13, 2012Share This article was originally published on TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based SnappyGo, a system which connects consumers to a travel advisor with the same interests.Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?SnappyGo is an online marketplace that offers travellers a new and more efficient way to plan their trips. It does this by using a state of the art technology to match them with Travel Advisors from around the world who share similar interests and have in depth knowledge of the specific destination.SnappyGo was founded by an international mix of travel entrepreneurs with over 15 years of travel expertise as well as previous experience in successful online startups. The team consists of: Camilo Gomez (CEO) – Ex banker and founder of Mantaraya Travel, the biggest online travel agency bringing foreigners to Colombia and expanding to Latin America.Luis E. Garcia de Brigard (COO) – Lawyer, Harvard Ed.M, serial travel entrepreneur and founder of Off Bound Adventures.Ignacio Pascual (CTO) – Avid traveller with 9 years of experience as an IT developer.Ernesto Schmidt-Mumm – Web marketing specialist and Marketting Director of Mantaraya Travel.Sergio Martinez – Art Director, visual designer and co-founder of Vulcan Estudios.What financial support did you have to launch the business?SnappyGo´s December 2011 launch was self-funded with revenue generated through the founders existing companies.What problem are you trying to solve?Tens of millions of contradictory user-generated reviews are turning holiday planning into a tedious task. Forrester research found that in the past 5 years travel-planning enjoyment has fallen a significant 6%.Google recently claimed that people are spending on average 29 days and visiting 22 websites to plan a single trip.The evidence shows that traditional trip-planning sites are suffering an oversaturation of information and as a result people are spending far too much time gleaning the web to find travel information that is relevant and useful to them.For this reason SnappyGo aims to simplify the trip-planning process, making it far more efficient while increasing the quality of advice for people who do not have 29 days to spend planning a holiday.Describe the business, core products and services?The power of SnappyGo lies in its ability to harness the vast knowledge of the crowds while packaging it in a way that is 100% personalized.It does this through a state-of-the-art technology called The 8 Dimensions of Travel Compatibility, which matches travellers with travel advisors who share the same interests as them and have in-depth knowledge of the specific destination they wish to visit (some are saying this is the eHarmony for travel planning).These travel advisors are locals and avid travellers who bid for the role of working with the traveller in the SnappyGo Messaging System to help plan their trip. In adherence to the gamification of the travel industry, the travel advisors over time build up their profiles, user-ratings and testimonials.SnappyGo allows Travel Advisors to work from anywhere in the world, share the knowledge and passion that they have for their destination of expertise and monetize their travel knowledge.It allows travellers to plan their trips far more effectively and efficiently, with local, up-to-date and professional travel knowledge.Who are your key customers and users at launch?Every traveller who is looking for a better travel planning experience. These people are happy to pay a small fee to receive local, tailor-made travel advice delivered in an efficient manner.Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?Yes. The need for this type of online market place has been closely observed by us during our near decade of experience selling travel advice with Mantaraya Travel.Our success in selling travel advice for Colombia has led us to implement our learning’s on a global scale. Startups like Mygola have further validated that people are still willing to pay for travel advice.In April 2012 we are opening a round for investors.What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?Up until know there has been no platform for the general public to monetize their travel knowledge. As Airbnb unlocked the accommodation industry so that anyone can rent a room and earn money, SnappyGo wants to unlock the travel planning industry so that anyone with expert travel knowledge can help travellers plan their trips.Travel Advisors fees vary from $20 for a weekend in Buenos Aires to up to $150 for a two-week road trip around Japan.The fee is paid through SnappyGo whereby we extract a percentage-based commission. This model has proven itself to be powerful, with Travel Advisors registering on SnappyGo.com for over 3,000 destinations in the first few weeks of the beta.SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?Strengths: We have a diverse team with over 15 years of experience in the travel industry and previous success with online startups.This is a blue ocean. While other startups are attempting to tackle the problem of oversaturation of travel information by tapping into your social media network, there is no marketplace out that matches travellers with individual travel advisors who share similar interests and have in depth knowledge of the specific destination. Weaknesses: Before the user-ratings and testimonials become a deep and crucial aspect in travellers selecting a travel advisor, we may experience a percentage of incompetent or inauthentic advisors. We are constantly validating the expertise of our applying travel advisors. Opportunities: In a $312 billion-a-year industry, the opportunities are virtually limitless.There is a big opportunity to intertwine the SnappyGo marketplace with a booking system, which would generate immense profit and value for travellers. Threats: At the moment we see our biggest threat being other established trip-planning companies pivoting to the SnappyGo concept.Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?We have had two comments so far by people asking why anyone would pay for this when they can find it for free online.There are several reasons why we did not listen to them. For one, in a world where time is money, a $40 fee for personalized, professional, local travel advice is a worthwhile option for many.People still pay for one-on-one travel advice when they walk into a shop front travel agency and have their trip planned by a professional sitting behind a desk.SnappyGo provides the same one on one, tailor-made benefits, but it goes further by utilizing the long-reaching arm of the Internet as well as The 8 Dimensions of Travel Compatibility technology.What is your success metric 12 months from now?By the end of our first year we plan to have a diverse range of Travel Advisors for every major destination in the world.We will disrupt the trip-planning industry by combining the best of both old and new models – personalized, tailor-made travel advice with the latest technology and the power of the crowds. NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.