1. Executive Summary
SmartBackpacker is a paid crowdsourcing app that will provide travelers with up to date reviews, recommendations and tips from other travellers. From the best places to get your laundry done in Timbuktu to the best stall to buy a taco in Mexico City, SmartBackpacker will hopefully become the must have app for all smart travelers.
The success of this app will rest on providing the end-user trustworthy and useful information. The success of this app is also highly dependent on user participation as it is the user who will be posting reviews and sharing their travel knowledge. One of the innovative features of this app is that it will allow users to upload video reviews of places they have stayed, places they have eaten or fun, quirky things that might be off the beaten trail. It is hoped that this feature, along with the clean and easy to use user interface will propel SmartBackpacker to the head of the growing travel app market.
SmartBackpacker is both the name of the company and the first product that this company will be launching. All future products will be launched under this company but with different names to reflect the target market. Future products could include SmartWeekends for weekend travelers, SmartStaycations for those looking for travel information in the UK and SmartBusinesstraveler for business travelers.
2. Mission, Vision and Culture
SmartBackpacker aims to harness the power of the crowd like no other travel app has managed to do before. Printed travel guides such as The Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide have long been essential purchases for tourists. However, these publications are usually updated every two years and don’t provide travelers with up to date information. They are written usually by one person and don’t really cater to everyone’s tastes. Usually they only cover one region or country, meaning that if the traveler is embarking on a multi-country tour they have to purchase more than one of these heavy and expensive guides.
As smart phones become more prevalent and WiFi and mobile coverage now standard even in places far off the beaten track, it makes sense for travelers to leave their cumbersome, outdated travel books at home and travel with their phones loaded with an app that is constantly updating them with useful and relevant information. If one user had a killer Mojito in a bar in Sydney they can share that information instantly on SmartBackpacker. King (2002) argues that, “it is the customer who can decide how and when they access their travel and tourism information and how and through what process they access and purchase their travel and tourism arrangements” (p. 106). SmartBackpacker aims to be at the heart of this customer-focused movement by getting tourists to share information directly with each other, bypassing all the traditional channels.
This business has to be built on a culture of trust. Users have to be able to trust the information that they are being given. It is this trust that will engender positive feelings towards the product and prompt people to post their own reviews. Surowiecki (2004) argues that, “under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent” (p. xiii). This app will use this group intelligent to improve the travel experience for everyone using this product. SmartBackpacker will be the first in a long line of travel related apps from this company.