Stride Travel one year onNews / DistributionBy PhocusWire | March 13, 2017Share This article was originally published on Stride Travel, the adventure tours and trips search and review site, has just completed its first year in business and has generated at least $30 million in referral value to its supply partners so far.Click here to see the Startup Pitch from February 2016.We asked its co-founder and vice president of marketing Jared Alster for a summary of what's happened over the past twelve months:Achievements"Since launching the site publicly in February 2016, we’ve built significant traction on both the supply and demand side of our metasearch marketplace. We now have more than 500 tour operator suppliers and 10,000+ trips live on the site and commercial agreements with many of the world’s largest tour and adventure brands including G Adventures, Trafalgar, Intrepid Travel, and Butterfield & Robinson."By the end of 2016, Stride generated over $30 million in referral value for our supplier partners and this continues to grow at up to 60% monthly."User growth has also been consistent, growing at a similar rate per month and we’ve significantly increased awareness among our core demographic of baby boomer travellers."In November 2016, Stride was one of three winners at the Phocuswright Battleground competition. The positive feedback we received from the judging panel and conference attendees reinforced our original hypothesis that the ‘professionally planned’ trip market needs a meta solution such as Stride and that the baby boomer traveller segment is currently under appreciated in the industry."Additionally, Stride now features over 65,000 traveler reviews to better inform users during the purchasing process. We see this as a central pillar to Stride’s value proposition as none of the large travel sites offer reviews for this style of travel."We’re also proud that our users have given us an average 5/5 star rating via an independent measurement company, further proving the usefulness of the Stride platform to travellers everywhere."Lastly, we’ve developed some great strategic partnerships on both supply and demand sides. On the supply side, we’ve partnered with travel agencies to help them get more customers and foster more efficient customer relationships. On the distribution side, we created marketing partnerships with major brands such as Cheapflights and numerous tourism boards including VisitBritain and Czech Republic Tourism."Mistakes"Like all startups, we’ve learned a lot along our path so far. In hindsight, we should have been more outspoken from the start about our focus on the baby boomer demographic. Given our breadth of product on the site, we were initially careful with our messaging as to not alienate any demographic groups."However, since Phocuswright, where we ‘went public’ regarding our boomer focus, we’ve received numerous high profile press mentions and other opportunities due to our differentiation and unique targeting of this demographic."We also could have invested more in product design and aesthetics compared with optimizing our site primarily for conversion and SEO. It’s become clear that some stakeholders, such as investors, place significant emotional value on visual impressions of a site and expect it to conform to perceived modern trends. These visual elements are sometimes valued above customer UX, traction and business metrics."Pivots"We haven’t made any pure pivots at this stage. However, we originally had plans to be a pure play OTA, but realized after user testing and discussions with operators, that the bigger problem to solve for both supply and demand was providing a comprehensive and open metasearch experience and reviews site."Since then, we have adjusted our revenue model slightly to accommodate different supplier partner needs and set up Stride for long term financial success. Unlike some companies in this space, Stride’s approach is not to squeeze as much margin as possible from tour operators and attempt to hide the operator brands from travelers. Rather, we’ve fully embraced being an open metasearch site that happily sends travelers to the right operator, even if we do not have generous commercial terms."Of course, our incentives are aligned with those operators that do pay more generously to make sure they get extra visibility and opportunities to connect with the right potential travelers.Plans"Stride has plans on a number of different fronts. We’re working on raising another round of capital to fund team expansion, supply expansion, accelerate user acquisition and develop a new strategic initiative that we can’t reveal at this time."On the supply side, we will continue to add more operators and trips to the site and continue to make Stride the most comprehensive resource for travelers looking for professionally planned vacations. We are also developing tools and partnerships to facilitate customer acquisition for our supplier partners."The platform will continue to evolve as well for travelers. Stride will add more rich content, community engagement features, and further personalization of trip search results based on user preferences and behavior."Stride is also expanding our affiliate program - working with partners and bloggers to monetize their inspirational content. Our early tests show that Stride’s aggregated tour and vacation package content is a valuable asset for travel bloggers, enabling those with moderate amounts of traffic to better monetize their creative content. Linking to related bookable trips makes the travel inspiration actionable for their readers. We have another strategic initiative that we are working on now and look forward to revealing in the next few months."NB: “If you think your startup is a contender for our pitch series, or if you've already been featured and would like to share an update, please email [email protected].