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Travellerspoint’s journey to 1 Million Members and Beyond
Interview with founder Peter Daams

Melbourne-based social network Travellerspoint helps more than a million travelers plan their trips, document their travels and connect with other travellers.

Peter Daams has been working in the online travel industry since 2002 when he founded Travellerspoint together with his brother Sam. Peter originally co-founded and is a member of Melbourne Travel Massive.

Read more to learn how Travellerspoint has evolved from a simple trip logging system to the community it is now.

How did you get into the travel industry?

I grew up travelling quite a lot so in some ways it was a natural thing for me. I made my first big trip at a month old when my family travelled from the Solomon Islands back to the Netherlands. There have been plenty of trips back and forth across the globe since then. Straight out of high school I moved to Australia for an extended holiday and ended up staying here. Travelling has always been a big part of my life.

A few years after I moved to Australia, my older brother Sam was then working in the travel industry. One day we were chatting and he floated the idea of starting a website to help people find friends they had met on travels but lost touch with. Needless to say, this was pre-Facebook. I thought it sounded like a fun project, so I spent some of my spare time building the first iteration of Travellerspoint.

What is Travellerspoint?

Travellerspoint (www.travellerspoint.com) helps people plan their trips, document their travels and connect with other travellers.

Our travel mapping tool allows people to map out all their past and future trips in one handy map. It can be used for planning or as a cool visualisation of your life’s travels.

Bloggers and travel companies can embed the maps on their sites for free. Our blogging platform allows people to write about their trips in a straightforward way. Mapping is integrated into the system and there is a ready community of travellers on the site to put your content in front of.

Travellerspoint currently has over 1 million members with more than 900 thousand maps created.

Our members have also helped write extensive travel guides on what to see, where to go and where to stay. There is an active travel forum (www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm) where members help each other out with any questions.

What’s makes Travellerspoint’s stand out from the crowd of social travel tools?

Our mapping service is unique in that it allows people to map all their journeys on a single map in an uncomplicated way. Other applications that do travel logging focus on just dropping pins for places visited, or colouring in countries that are visited.

We instead allow people to go into detail, adding notes, photos and blog entries for each stop. Backed up by our own travel guides, the end result is a very rich map. If people want to embed the map on external sites, they are also given options to change the styling of the map to suit their look.

Watch the video to learn how to create maps with Travellerspoint:

The other thing that I think is really unique is our community of very experienced and extremely helpful members. We moderate the site quite strictly to avoid spam and to ensure behaviour is always friendly.

For new travellers especially, the forums are a great place to get some personal advice on your upcoming trips.

How has the online travel industry changed since you launched in 2002?

Most notably, it’s grown like crazy.

Travel blogging was not even a thing when we started Travellerspoint – we called our first version of them “diaries”. And then even when travel blogging started to take off, we saw it change from people writing fairly personal stories to the more professionalised blogging that goes on now.

Travel has become so much easier these days thanks to all the helpful content online. Online mapping systems in particular have made travel a lot easier than it used to be. The rise of Facebook also changed things dramatically for us. We definitely noticed more conversations moving there instead of on forums like ours.

I’ve also just seen a lot of competitors come and go over the years.

How has Travellerspoint evolved since you launched?

The site has changed so much since the early days — it would be unrecognisable to a current member.

We had a simple trip logging system that morphed over the years into what is now a rather advanced travel mapping platform. The straightforward diaries morphed into travel blogs.

We launched with a “travel friends reunited” feature that eventually was removed as it became irrelevant.

Technology has changed and people are accessing the site extensively on mobile now, so we had to ensure the site was mobile friendly.

A couple of years ago I also started shifting the site’s business model more towards subscriptions instead of affiliate commissions. While the site is still free to join, there are some extra features that are unlocked for paid supporters. This has grown slowly but steadily and I feel is a good way to ensure I’m motivated to help the members first above all else.

— Thanks, Peter for sharing your story!

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1 year ago
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