Part of our job building one of the largest social, networked platforms for travel is that as developers, we are continuously evaluating and re-evaluating the user experience. And part of this process involves constant reinventing of the tools we use in a way that best facilitates a certain “richness of interaction” within the community.
Introductions of features such as Loyalty tracker, Traxo travel score, and worldwide Travel Leaderboards have been some of the natural results of this process.
Perched atop the rankings on this tenth of October is Leith Stevens, a twenty-something Boulder-based travel entrepreneur. Mr. Stevens maintains a busy schedule flying around the world meeting clients and business partners as CEO of Flextrip, and by the time we had a chance to catch up with the smooth-talking Aussie, he was already making final preparations to fly to Singapore for an industry conference.
Leith has logged over two hundred seven trips and over six hundred thousand miles over the past three years alone. A quick glance at his travel record reveals that he typically spends over half of his time travelling and on the road. You might consider him a true road warrior.
Since the introduction of the travel score, we’ve been enthusiastically gauging the reactions of our members. One comment that we’ve received from our users is that while it was easy to see the scores of your existing buddies on Traxo, there didn’t exist one place to go where you could see the top travelers across the entire network.
We’ve addressed these comments and now allow you to see the top scoring travelers in the world through our new Traxo Leaderboard feature. There are four new travel leaderboards we are announcing today: highest travel score, total countries visited, total states visited, and total number of travel loyalty accounts linked.
The debut of the Traxo leaderboard is truly a milestone, because for the first time ever, you can see how you stack up against virtually, the most-seasoned travelers in the world. Our data-harvesting technology allows us to verify each metric according to actual, confirmed travel reservations rather than self-reported claims. Our top travelers are the real deal, and are backed by real travel credentials.
So what exactly is a top traveler? Well, we see from the top of the Leaderboards that our top nine travelers have already each made validated visits to 20 different countries, seven of our travelers have traveled to more than half the U.S. states, and 34 of our travelers have linked more than 20 of their travel accounts. In fact the most experienced travelers on Traxo have already taken verified trips to 30 different countries, have visited 34 different states, and have linked 34 different travel loyalty accounts. We encourage you to peruse the Leaderboard and see if you or any of your buddies rank among the top ranked travelers.
We’ve all asked the same question. Everyone knows you need to stay organized in today’s busy, busy world. How to do it? That’s the million dollar question.
On top of meetings, appointments, chores, and everything else organized in your calendar, keeping track of your trips can be a time-consuming, if unpleasant task.
After a while, things turn into a unappealing mess of itineraries, trip confirmations, confirmation numbers, rescheduled dates, and email after email after email. And it’s your job to separate the few useful emails from the ones touting your favorite carrier’s new fall getaways to the Caribbean.
And in the end, you’re still always doing the same search of your email inbox twelve hours before your flight to confirm flight times and grab that flight confirmation number that you failed to jot down the first time.
So take a deep breath. Relax. We have a solution for you. And if you already have a Traxo account, it will take less than a minute of your time.
We’ve all been in this situation before. Regular office-cooler chit chat with a friend turns to the popular subject of travels and the conversation typically goes something like this:
“Oh wow, when are you going to Barcelona?”
“Next week with my husband. We’re both so excited, it’s our two year wedding anniversary.”
“That’s so awesome. You know, I was just there last year with Alice. There’s a really beautiful place right on the beach that has the best paella I’ve ever tasted.”
“Remember the name of the place?”
“I forget, but I do remember there’s a cool leaning, tower type of sculpture on the beach nearby. Hold on, let me find it for you real quick on my phone”
**Fumbles with phone for a good minute.**
“Tell you what, just text me the place when you find it”
Of course, we all have that one friend, with the near photographic memory of every place she’s ever been and the names of the people who were with her at every one of those places over the last ten years. But for most of us, whose minds are filled with other things, like school stuff, work stuff, or inane sports or pop culture trivia, keeping a mental note of all the places we’ve been is a taxing enough job for our brains to handle.
That’s why Traxo, by integrating with foursquare and Gowalla, has now made it easy to keep track of the places you’ve been, organized automatically trip by trip, date by date. You can throw that old tattered moleskin with jotted travel notes out the window (or in my case, crumpled receipts and cocktail napkins). More after the break.
A lot of our users have been clamoring for new and faster ways to increase their travel score as quickly as possible. We’re really excited to announce that you can now get credit for your past trips by linking your Gowalla, foursquare, and TripIt accounts to your Traxo account. We’re big fans of all three services and have dedicated users of all three right here at Traxo.
What this means is that perhaps you took a trip to San Diego and San Francisco last year, with your itinerary stored on the immensely useful travel organizer TripIt. Along the way, you checked-in at a few different stops on your smartphone using foursquare or Gowalla. After linking to Tripit, foursquare, or Gowalla in the connect new site page in the Travel Sites dropdown, Traxo will now pull data from your linked accounts and add these past trips to your history. This will then give you a boost in score that more accurately represents your own travel experience.
Yes it’s hot out. In fact it’s been sweltering hot in Dallas since Memorial Day. Yet ever since the slowly moving right arm of the current heat monster enveloping practically all of the U.S. south has now slinked its way up the eastern seaboard, dropping our nation’s capital into yet another type of gridlock we call “CLIMATE SHOCK!”, we have been watching the reaction of the myriad news outlets reporting on the sudden weather change with a certain bit of bemusement.
And of course, obviously, the media has been predictably—and laughably—blustery with their pronouncements of late. Pressure cooker! Extreme heat! Heatmageddon! In 54 point red caps and bookended by rotating sirens!
So, back to Dallas, a quick perusal of the recent online status updates of friends in the area indicates business as usual—your normal number of “looking forward to the weekend, doing so-and-so can’t get any better than this”-type posts. However, checking up on my suddenly unlucky friends in the northeast and it appears that all hell has broken loose. “Booking flight to chilie [sic] ASAP!!!!!can’t take this heat anymore!”
And while most of us, are unwilling to go to extremes like my friend Mr. Chilie [sic], there are still a few places outside of the super-searing, life-threatening, amoeba of humidity and death, that we can safely seek refuge at, in these doggiest of all dog days. In fact, just to make it easier, I’ve made a handy list right after the jump, of North American destinations that are currently sitting at below their historic July average temperatures. And just to be fair to everyone, I’ve chosen cities that are easily accessible by those sitting in “extreme heat!” in the Midwest, South, as well as Northeast.
Rudy Maxa is a journalist, blogger, and radio host who has a great syndicated show mostly about travel, travel deals, and basically how to get the most out of a limited travel budget. But Rudy Maxa also often has truly informative segments highlighting the beautiful national parks of our jolly good neighbors up north, and highlighting a proposed homeland security initiative outting known child burglars at the checkpoint.
And then sometimes, tucked away, sandwiched in between these two educational segments is an interview with our very own Andres Fabris, CEO. Here he talks a little bit about how Traxo generally works, the technology involved in pulling and aggregating data (“trips are automatically detected and saved”), and what the new Travel Score means for users.
The interview in its entirety can be found here, and the full transcript for the interview can be found after the jump.
Well, a few days have passed since the launch of the Traxo travel score and the response to the new feature we’ve gotten here at Traxo has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. We’ve been comparing a wide range of scores here at the Traxo office and the low score of at least one of our guys compared to the others has already motivated him to take a well deserved summer vacation. One thing we’ve noticed is there are primarily three main ways that people view the travel score.
The first and largest group, are those who wish to use the score to identify the experienced travelers in the online community. This includes those who are seeking to offer travel goods and services or those who are counting on the service or advice of others when making travel plans. For example, the carry-on luggage recommendation of a Jetsetter level member, who averages seventy days on the road per year according to our metrics, would be held in much higher regard due to the fact that about a fifth of his or her time each year is spent living out of a suitcase. Along the same line of thinking, someone targeting sales of high end luggage would also love to have that same Jetsetter on board to vouch for the product through online promotion or just good old fashioned word of mouth.
Since the introduction of the Traxo travel score feature a couple days ago, we’ve been really been excited by the enthusiasm our members have shown towards the new feature. In fact, we’ve been seeing a whole flurry of new activity involving Traxo members sharing their scores on their Facebook or Twitter feeds, and we hope this translates into activity among your friends, away from the computer and this digital life we spend so much time in nowadays. So you’re thinking, well just what kind of activity? Below I have listed just a few to get started.
Asking friends for recommendations. Travelers with a higher travel score means they have gone to more places, have spent more days on the road, or are intimately familiar with all the different travel programs out there, and the perks that go along with them.
We like geeky things here at Traxo. We believe things like statistics, algorithms, and data analysis are the clockwork behind what we know as today’s socially driven internet. To put this belief into action, we’ve just rolled out some new features that we’re really excited about and that we think will be a really nice supplement to the travel sharing features we already have in place. One of them, called the Traxo travel score, will allow each traveler on the Traxo network show off and keep track of his or her own travel “chops.”
The travel score will allow a traveler to display his or her travel credentials and be identified as a beginner traveler, open to seeing new places and creating new experiences, an intermediate discoverer, open to expanding his or her own unique set of experiences, or a travel guru, expert in all things related to travel, and willing to share these valuable insights with others in the online community.
It’s really a simple concept. The score is based off of an algorithm developed by the ahem, more “mathematically-gifted” members of our development team and takes into account four primary parameters when calculating the score: travel coverage, distance traveled, duration traveled, and account loyalty status achieved. Scores are then individually weighted based on trip verification status and date of travel.
Every traveler is then assigned a travel score from 1 to 100 based on this algorithm, and the score is displayed in the profile of each traveler, along with its associated tier. Tiers rank from Trekker, the greenest of travelers, all the way up to the mighty Conquistador ranking, which is currently comprised of less than the top one percent of all travelers on the Traxo network.