IQPlanner wants to put web-based trip planning back in vogue with its UEX-focused service going live in the last few weeks.
The UK-based is one of the new breed of services that are starting to come on-stream, having seen the trials and tribulations of the many that have come and gone before it.
It combines the traditional recommendation-type engine with practical tools such as accommodation and flight search to produce an itinerary for the user.
The company's founders have a fair amount of pedigree between them, having with the CEO having worked in senior roles at Intel and its chief commercial officer working as a country manager at both Skyscanner and Hotelscombined.
Q&A with CEO and co-founder, Igor Kaloshin:
What problem does your business solve?
IQPlanner connects personal trip recommendations from savvy travellers, local experts and travel bloggers with travel services.
A marriage of inspiration through user built itineraries with powerful trip planning technology.
We believe that there isn’t a service out there yet where a traveller would find the right reason to travel, build a perfect itinerary and find the best price.
Consumers are still visiting a double-digit number of websites according to Google to read reviews, find inspiration and research prices.
Besides, our own research shows that for collaborative trip planning, especially when building complex itineraries consumers are using multiple formats – from emails to social networks, calendars and messengers.
IQPlanner aims to address this problem. Anyone coming to our website can become a contributor and post their travel story, IQplanner simply "dresses" that story into a bookable itinerary.We also help our contributors to monetize their content by rewarding them every time a booking is made.
We also help our contributors to monetize their content by rewarding them every time a booking is made.
Names of founders, their management roles, and the number of full-time paid staff?
Igor Kaloshin (CEO), Dmitrijus Konovalovas (chief commercial officer), plus a team of seven developers, one community manager and a head of content.
Private investors in seed funding. Following the proof of concept – growth of registered contributor accounts, both private and business, we have recently closed a top up round.
IQPlanner works on a referral-based model.
We have partnered with online travel agents for both flights and hotels, and are growing our coverage by signing up new partnerships such as Booking.com and Skyscanner.
We are also integrating transfers and activities through selected partners.
Additional revenue streams (forthcoming): sponsored content and display advertising.
Why do you think the pain point you’re solving is painful enough that customers are willing to pay for your solution?
Trip planning is a big part of the travel cycle, it's also a big challenge for traditional online players to give customers a clear answer to the question why should they travel to a particular destination, and provide the right tool how to get there with a day-by-day activity plan.
IQPlanner addresses these issues by working together with the community of travel experts and comprehensive coverage booking and search partners.
We are a team of savvy travellers ourselves with different interests and have built the tool to suit everyone.
External validation? (Examples: The incubators/accelerators you have been accepted to, the mentors who are advising you, the number of customers you’ve signed, the marketing partner deals you’ve made, the skills/connections of your founders, etc.)
We have made our launch announcement last month and today IQPlanner has 300+ contributor accounts, 200+ stories have been supplied by contributors (either live or in moderation), we have also agreed four pilot projects with Destination Marketing Organizations for sponsored content.
IQPlanner has been shortlisted for Phocuswright Startup battlefield Europe (Amsterdam, May 2017).
There have been more than a few high-profile failures (and dozens of smaller ones) in the world of trip planning over the years.
The core problem has always been getting enough users in the front door in order to generate both the community feel that such services need and money to grow and improve.
Hopefully the founders have observed this tricky corner of the market and planned accordingly.
Still, there is no doubt that IQPlanner has a slick interface and the content is very good.
Furthermore, the logisitics end of the site (flights and accommodation) is laid out well and, interestingly, behaves in the same way as many of the more up-to-date airline or accommodation sites.
Where the company will perhaps need to broaden its horizons with how to make money (as there is no guarantee that it will attract the volume of users required as a consumer-facing brand) is through white labelling the technology into other sites.