Social Travel Planner Trippy Relaunches As Q&A Service, Raises Additional $ 3.5 Million – TechCrunch

Trippy, the social travel planner who debuted at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2011, is moving away from the friends-only model with the official launch of a new question-and-answer-focused travel planning service today. The new service allows locals and others familiar with a region to discover and answer questions from other travelers and potential visitors.

The company is also announcing an additional $ 3.5 million Series A financing, as part of a round that ended last year, and led by eVentures. True Ventures and Sequoia Capital also participated.

Trippy founder JR Johnson says the company had struggled with the social travel service it previously offered, which was not growing. “The route of pure friends that we initially took – it just wasn’t natural,” he says. “It’s not what our users told us they wanted. They wanted to sail more and they wanted to get out of their group of friends more.

Johnson declined to provide user figures to illustrate the size of the Trippy community before or after the changes.

The new product, a question-and-answer-based community, went through a private beta test for around 6-9 months before being gently launched in January to a larger group. The redesigned site design is attractive and easy to use, as it is a more familiar search engine-like interface that then leads you to pages about places or other topics that you enter as queries.

Trippy also walks you through a few questions when signing up, asking you to name a handful of places you know or places you’ve lived. This helps the site address relevant questions to other travelers your way. And these questions don’t have to be as simplistic as “What are some good hotels in New York City?” “, for example ?

As you answer the questions, citing places and places in your answers, these items are plotted on a map on the side of the screen. You can also add photos, either from your computer or social networks, or from other Trippy sources via Creative Commons (images under open license).

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While this version of Trippy is new, one thing to note is that the site already has a lot of great content, thanks to the time the company has already spent building their social community. For example, see the questions on “See New Zealand”, “Copenhagen in July” or “Cape Town in 2.5 days”.

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There is some overlap between Trippy and more general Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers or Quora, for example, but the former tends to offer shoddy or dated answers, while the latter may have the occasional answer but without photos or maps. Trippy’s main competitors, meanwhile, are places like travel giant TripAdvisor, which has received 50 million reviews in the past 12 months.

“Reviews are good, but they lack a lot of context… You talk about your experiences with a certain place you’ve been to,” Johnson says of places like TripAdvisor. End users should then try to determine the reliability of the exam and try to choose the items that are relevant to them. A question-and-answer session is different, he continues, because you can ask for very specific information and receive a list of answers in response.

While Trippy is no longer a friends-only service, that doesn’t stop you from including your friends in the experience, of course. Your Q&A can be shared on your personal network via integrations with Facebook and Twitter, or you can share the link directly via email, instant messaging, or any other medium of your choice.

Johnson says this sharing is how he hopes Trippy tackles the short-term distribution problem, but admits SEO is the longer-term game here. “A lot of travel research is still done through SEO,” he says. “It will be an important part for us in the future.”

Image credits: Trippy; Flickr user Kuster & Wildhaber Photography licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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