The new socially shareable online travel marketplace Yonderbound has announced a new partnership agreement with Virtuoso. Travel Agent spoke with Yonderbound founder and CEO Barbara Muckermann to find out more.
Yonderbound is an online travel marketplace that allows users to collect their dream trip ideas in an aspirational collection called a Yonderbox. Through its new partnership with Virtuoso, select Virtuoso travel advisors will be able to create their own Yonderboxes, which consumers will then be able to book directly through the advisor.
|A sample Virtuoso advisor profile on Yonderbound|
“The idea is to bridge the gap between automated travel booking and a travel advisor,” said Muckermann. “For example, for something as simple as a one-night trip to Miami, a consumer may want to book that themselves. But for a big, complex trip, they can rely on the experience and expertise of a travel advisor.”
How It Works
A Yonderbox works similarly to a scrapbook. For each trip a user is planning, they can collect inspirational photos, favorite hotels, notes and links to attractions or events into a separate Yonderbox. When another user searches the site, for example for “Myanmar,” hotels and attractions in Myanmar will appear in the search results, along with Myanmar-related Yonderboxes from other users and, through the new Virtuoso partnership, from travel advisors. Yonderboxes can also be shared to Facebook for additional visibility.
|A sample advisor-created Yonderbox|
“Other online travel agencies tend to act as gatekeepers – they show the inventory that they want to push out,” said Muckermann. “We don’t want to act as a gatekeeper.”
Yonderbound also differs from other OTAs in that it is built around saving a user’s research between sessions, something that OTAs don’t typically do, Muckermann said.
“It takes a user an average of 44 days to decide where to go,” Muckermann said. “With Yonderbound, all that research is saved.”
Yonderbound results are also integrated with Tripadvisor and Google Street View. Search results will display user reviews, as well as the surrounding area via a built-in Google Street View widget, so users can see what the area looks like.
On June 6, Yonderbound announced the beginning of a major marketing campaign aimed at bringing users to the site. Dubbed the Yonderfund, the campaign is a social media contest that will allow consumers to win funds to pay for their dream trips through community voting.
“We took a traditional digital marketing budget, and used it to fund free trips for our consumers,” said Muckermann.
On the Yonderbound homepage, users can create a short video explaining why they should win and why the community should vote for them. Contestants can then promote their video via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email. At the end of each contest round, one winner will be selected from ten finalists.
After entering, users will be prompted to build a Yonderbox to start planning their dream trip. Yonderbox will then organize the Yonderfund trip for the winner.
At the start of the campaign, Yonderbound will give away at least one free trip per month tied to a specific theme or event. The first theme will offer a trip to San Francisco Pride from June 28-29. Upcoming themes will include trips to the VANS US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, from July 26 to August 3 and the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, on August 24.
Following the rollout of the Virtuoso partnership and the Yonderfund promotion, Yonderbox plans to continue making improvements to the site. In the fall, the company plans to roll out a new version of the Yonderbox to make it easier for travel suppliers to upload items, Muckermann said.
Farther out, it would be possible for the user data generated by the site could become useful to travel suppliers.
“We could use this data to turn around the typical yield curve on hotels,” said Muckermann. “For example, if we know that 1,000 guests want to be at a certain property on a certain date, we could go to that hotel and ask for a better rate. At the same time, that hotel would get a better idea of their future guests.”