Travel co-ordination and itinerary builder TripIt is announcing right about now that it will be launching TripIt Pro. This will be a paid upgrade to the basic TripIt Product. We don't normally do launches here at the BOOT but I am a keen TripIt user, am interested by the potential for an online travel content/organisation company actually charging users for a product and TripIt's VP of Biz Dev Scott Hintz shared some product launch learnings that I wanted to pass on to you (oh....OK...and by way to disclosure they let me have access to a Pro Account for no charge).
Quick reminder - the core of the TripIt product is to let you forward to them all of your separate itineraries for each of the parts of the trip and they combine it into one itinerary that can be shared with others. My recent review of the base/free product is here. Most of features of the base product are "pre-trip". The paid TripIt Pro product comes with lots more during and post trip features such as flight tracking, mobile alerts and alternative flights to help with delays and missed connections and a points tracker/combiner for all loyalty cards. You can read up more on the features here. All useful stuff, will report back once I get a chance to trial them.
Hintz tells me the pricing will $100 per year, or $49 if you sign before 31 July. You may have heard this described as the "Freemium" model - where the base but usable produce is available free but advanced features cost. We have seen this in lots of desktop software but I have not seen it yet in a travel product. Hintz says they have done lots of research to set the pricing.
I wonder if there is an irrationality factor to get over when it comes to paying for online travel tools. The OTAs are busily cutting fees, travel inspiration and meta-search providers are looking for suppliers and agents to pay and Google is the most useful thing the world but it is entirely free to use.
That said for a multi-mile road warrior $100 per year is a rounding error on a travel budget. I certainly will certainly spend more each year just on the tips at cafes buying coffee and can easily burn that it one trip using my cell to dial into a conference call.
Unfortunately they can only take US credit cards. Hintz said there were practical and cost reasons for that but in hindsight wishes and with the product on the cusp of launch wished they had found a way to launch the product with a reach beyond US customers. In launching the product Hintz said the cost of taking on non-US cards appeared prohibitive but as they face the realities of rolling out the product he believes they should have been more aggressive with targeting more markets for launch.
Another learning from the launch was to engage more beta testers earlier. A lot of the features from the final product came from tester feedback. If he had his time again Hintz says that he would have brought on more testers earlier to increase the feedback and speed up the product dev. It was nice of him to be open and share this.
Thus we have a Travel 2.0 company prepared to turned to paid subscriptions for revenue. What do you think? Do you think people will pay for more/better tools for managing itineraries, points, connections and trips?
UPDATE - apologies to all at TripIt. I did screw up the embargo timing by 24 hours. Caused the TripIt team to scramble to launch a day earlier and brief people fast. I earned a justifiable "tut tut" from uber travel journalist Kevin May. Then I tried to bring my post down and instead deleted it, meaning I need to repost again with the comments in the main text rather than in the comments section. As I said via twitter I "..proved that bloggers are lazy and untrustworthy". Thankfully TripIt have graciously forgiven me for my mistake.
Here are the comments I deleted