Described as “Lonely Planet meets TripAdvisor”, IQPlanner is a start-up looking to transform the way we book holidays. Co-founder Dmitrijus Konovalovas tells Globetrender why he predicts people will want to arrange trips abroad based on itineraries designed by bloggers.

What is IQPlanner?

Launched in March 2017, IQPlanner is a revolutionary trip planning platform where contributors can earn money from sharing their  travel itineraries. Think of it as “Lonely Planet meets TripAdvisor” – a place where people wondering “where to next?” can be inspired through trips experienced first-hand by bloggers, travel enthusiasts and local experts. If readers like what they see, they can instantly click through and book aspects of the suggested itinerary through one of our trusted metasearch booking partners, ensuring they’re getting the best deal possible.

How does it work?

It’s a simple concept. Anyone can contribute by uploading their own travel itineraries which we call “Adventures”. Contributors earn money from their Adventures in two ways: they earn small amounts for social interactions such as “likes” and “shares”, and also when site visitors click through to our partner sites to book.

How is it innovative?

IQPlanner is an entirely collaborative no-fee marketplace. Our contributors can use the platform to not only monetise their travel knowledge and experiences, but leverage their legitimacy as a travel expert through building their IQPlanner profile.

This approach, coupled with our remuneration structure ,which rewards for social interaction, is deliberately designed to encourage our contributors to share their itineraries as widely as possible. In this way, we also augment our traffic figures of those seeking travel inspiration organically. It’s a win, win.

What problems does it look to solve?

So much of the user generated content around travel experiences are review based, and often we use these simply to see where not to go. IQPlanner’s primary objective is to combine positive and inspirational travel recommendations from real identified people – not faceless commenters complaining about their shower pressure – with the ease of immediate booking capabilities.

Who is it aimed at?

In short, anyone who loves travel. But we do have two inter-related audiences: travel bloggers and travel lovers who want to share their experiences, make money and raise their profile, and travel enthusiasts who like to feel “in the know” about the paths less travelled.

Why will people choose to book their trips based on blogger itineraries?

I think we can all agree the travel blogger community is hugely crowded and there is a question of quality over quantity. But that doesn’t mean the right travel bloggers shouldn’t be considered qualified and authentic sources. Perhaps the real question might be “how do people find the right travel bloggers to get their inspiration and information?”.

Using the our platform in conjunction with their own blogs demonstrates a commitment to quality and an ambition for legitimacy that separates IQPlanner bloggers from the rest of the herd.

How many bloggers do you have?

We currently have over 3,000 registered contributors and with upcoming new site functionality and traffic driving initiatives such as outreach programmes, we expect this figure to rise significantly by the end of the year.

What are your favourite itineraries?

I would have to say Lake Como and any itineraries written about the Mediterranean. Plus the itinerary on Lipari in the Aeolian Islands is fantastic, written by Lisa Rivera from Following the Rivera.

How many bookings have you had?

While I’m not in a position to give you specific detail on this at the moment, I can say we are up 12 per cent on where we forecast we’d be at this stage of start-up. In large part, this is due to the flights and accommodation partnerships we’ve developed with respected meta-search platforms. As users are assured a best-price guarantee by these parties when they click out to book, they are less likely to feel the need to shop around.

How has the way we book travel changed over recent years?

The way we book travel has significantly. Obviously more people are booking via their smartphones and devices but also the path to purchase appears to be exploding in complexity. Data from Expedia suggests the average number of sites visited before making a holiday purchase has risen by 114 per cent in three years. Reducing this complexity is at the very heart of IQPlanner’s ethos; we provide the inspiration, the assurances from trusted experts and the ability to book, all in one place.

What do you predict for the future of travel?

One of the great joys and challenges of being at the forefront of travel tech development is watching how rapidly the industry is developing. Last year, we reached a point where we viewed more websites on our smartphones and tablets than our desktops, and clearly this will continue.

Consumers are hungry for advances in technology to help them share their travels, evidenced by video content now beginning to overtake written content in many markets. With the increasing popularity and affordability of drones, really experiential content is becoming the norm.

With augmented and virtual reality being something the travel industry is currently investing heavily in, we’re not convinced they will overtake the physical experience of travelling anytime soon. Rather, they’ll allow for “a taste of a destination” acting as just another aid to help travellers make decisions on their next break.

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