Trippin: travel itineraries for non-tourists


Unlike their predecessors, members of Gens Y and Z aren’t content visiting traditional tourist spots while on holiday. The Trippin app is helping these young travellers find off-the-beaten-track attractions through ‘playlists’ that are curated by their peers and digital influencers.

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Over the years, Gen Y’s love of exploration – coupled with advancing technology – has radically shifted the tourism sector. While hardbound travel guides and well-known hotel chains used to reign supreme, members of this cohort now crave a different kind of holiday in which they can get off the beaten path and explore their destination like a local. That’s where the Trippin app can help, enabling young travellers to discover the hottest spots suited to their tastes.

Dubbed ‘the travel app for people who don’t want to be tourists’ by Refinery29, Trippin curates guides for locations across the globe not through experts or crowdsourced online forums, but through people that young users will trust – their own community. [1] By linking with their Facebook accounts, Trippin connects users with friends so they can see each other’s ‘playlists’ – saved restaurants, bars, stores, and other interesting spots. Additionally, the app has partnered with youth-focused celebrities and cultural influencers to share their own lists, which feature everything from the top vintage clothing shops in Athens to the best date spots in London.

“You can book an entire trip – flights, a place to stay, a cab – all from your phone. However, tech can only take you so far,” says Kesang Ball, one of the co-founders of Trippin. “The best travel tips I’ve ever received are the ones which my friends have given me, that’s why Trippin is designed to facilitate that exchange.” [1] The app launched in summer 2018 with lists for top cities in Europe, the US, Asia, and Central America, and as the platform grows and more users add content, founders Ball, Sam Blenkinsopp and Yasmin Shahmir hope its coverage will expand worldwide.

The travel industry has evolved from being controlled by a few key players to a democratised landscape aimed at giving people an authentic experience abroad. Unlike older generations, who were happy to check into a city centre hotel with a paperback guide in their pocket, Gen Yers and Zers want to immerse themselves the real culture of their destination. In fact, a survey conducted by Topdeck Travel found that 86% of 18- to 24-year-olds said experiencing a new culture was the determining factor motivating them to travel, and 98% said eating local cuisine was a very important activity on their agenda. [2] “It’s all about personal growth, authentic experiences and new connections,” says Blenkinsopp of this cohort’s motivation to travel. [3]

“Gens Y and Z are inspired and motivated to travel as often as they possibly can, and have an interest in visiting areas that are not traditional tourist destinations,” Blenkinsopp adds. “They’re interested in having a ‘local’ experience – as in, they tend to spend their money with local communities and local businesses, [not least] because they’re more adventurous and are looking for contact with other young people that have similar tastes.” [3] While the likes of Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, and Frommer’s offer tomes full of local activities and dining options, members of Gens Y and Z don’t want cookie-cutter itineraries. In this new climate, sales of travel books have dropped dramatically; between 2006 and 2012, Frommer’s saw its US sales plummet from $34 million to $18 million, while Lonely Planet’s takings fell from $25 million to $18 million. [4]


The best travel tips I’ve ever received are the ones which my friends have given me, that’s why Trippin is designed to facilitate that exchange

Kesang Ball, co-founder of Trippin


In their wake, a slew of apps and sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Trips have popped up to offer crowdsourced recommendations on global destinations. But these platforms leave out an important reality – one person’s ‘best trip’ can be another’s nightmare. Instead, young jet-setters value tips from the people they trust; 76% of respondents to the Topdeck survey claimed that friends’ recommendations were a driving factor when making travel plans. [2] At the same time, Gen Yers and Zers also trust social media influencers and their favourite (relatable) celebrities. In fact, 38% of 18- to 34-year-olds who engage with influencers say they trust their statements about a brand more than the brand’s own messaging, and 63% of 13- to 24-year-olds would try a brand or a product recommended by a YouTuber compared to 48% who’d say the same of a movie or TV star. [5][6]

With this in mind, alternative travel brands are trying to adapt the ways they reach younger consumers. Nectar & Pulse, for instance, publishes alternative guidebooks by ‘Local Soulmates’ – influencers and other interesting people who live in a given city – which add a handpicked, local element that many young travellers feel is absent from mainstream companies. Google Trips, meanwhile, culls hotel reservations and flight bookings from a user’s Gmail inbox and compiles the information into a downloadable file, alongside a curated (by algorithm) guide to restaurants and other attractions. “Everyone has different interests and time constraints,” says Stefan Frank, Google Trip’s product manager. “No matter how popular an itinerary is, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the perfect day or the perfect trip. Google Trips can help you build your day around places you already know you want to visit.” [7]

Insights and opportunities
Today’s young tourists want itineraries and travel tools that help them find the hidden gems in a destination and make them feel like a local. In doing so, “they can find the real experiences that allow them to understand different cultures and in turn develop their knowledge of the world,” says Blenkinsopp. [3] Trippin’s curated playlists cut through the noise of crowdsourced data to give people a personal touch, with the insider knowledge enabling them to step off the tourist track and into the city secrets often missed by those who stick to the main attractions. In a similar vein, the #HelsinkiSecret Residence initiative invited bloggers and social influencers to explore the Finnish capital beyond traditional hotspots, thereby addressing the desire for authentic cultural experiences while on holiday.

Trippin speaks to Gens Y and Z in language they are familiar with – both verbally and visually. With a ‘90s throwback aesthetic, the platform taps into a sense of nostalgia, the commercial benefits of which are well-established. You need only look at Moleskine or Pokémon Go to understand how tapping into memories of the past can bring a brand success. And while nostalgia marketing can run the risk of coming off as inauthentic, Trippin’s pared-down and brightly colored graphics draw on the style of Gens Y and Z while simultaneously providing them with content they actually want. [8]

The app differentiates itself from social media while simultaneously accessing the same curatorial and aspirational aspects of Instagram and Facebook that fuel FOMO-induced trips. While Gen Yers and Zers look online for travel inspiration – and, for better or worse, to instil in them a fear of missing out – social media is not their first destination when it comes to planning a trip. [9] By providing users with a platform for sharing and connecting with fellow travellers (as well as influencers), Trippin grabs this young demographic’s attention in a similarly social way while providing better-tailored itineraries for the local-at-heart traveller.

1. 'The travel app for people who don't want to be tourists', Refinery29 (June 2018)
2. 'Are Millennial travel trends shifting in 2016?', Forbes (January 2016)
3. Interview with Sam Blenkinsopp conducted by Canvas8
4. 'Bookend', The Economist (April 2013)
5. 'One in three trust an influencer's words over what a brand says', ZDNet (April 2018)
6. 'Why YouTube stars influence Millennials more than traditional celebrities', Forbes (June 2017)
7. 'Google Trips: an app that organises your wanderlust', Canvas8 (November 2016)
8. 'Use nostalgia to improve your marketing results', Forbes (May 2018)
9. 'The impact of social media on travel inspiration', Olapic (2017)

This article was first published by our research partners, Canvas8

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