Thursday, November 8, 2012
How Go Trexx is Making Travel More Rewarding, with Samantha Lurey
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
How do you make travel a more rewarding experience--particularly if you're traveling with kids? Go Trexx (www.gotrexx.com), which is based in Mission Viejo, think it's by engaging kids with mobile applications which provide background information, helps to build excitement, and gets kids involved in traveling to different destinations. We spoke with founder and CEO Samantha Lurey on how her startup is trying to make travel with kids--and eventually, adults--more fun, by providing location-based applications which provide curious travel facts, customizable postcards, and more on different destinations.
What is Go Trexx all about?
Samantha Lurey: We are modernizing and changing round the way people travel. We'd love to say we're revolutionizing travel, but we can't go that far just yet. But, what we are doing, is looking at how people travel and what modern tools we can provide to make the experience better, in the form of travel guides and things like that. Our first set of products started rolling out in May, and are a set of travel guides for children. There are tons of travel guide sin the marketplace, which talk to parents about where to stay, where to eat, and where to go with kids on a family vacation. However, the rub is that lots of parents are spending all of this time, money on the planning process, and when they get to the Statue of Liberty or Washington Monument, they find out the kids are bored, disengaged, miss their friends, and just want to go home. No wonder more parents are frustrated about this, and don't want to go on vacation, because it's a less than rewarding experience.
What we've created are travel apps, for your kid's Apple device or Android, which talks about the places you're going to, and really helps to build the excitement about where you are going, what they are going to see, and what is cool. It also answer questions they might have, like why the Washington monument is two different colors of white, or why the Statue of Liberty is green, and what shoe size she wears. We also have a postcard feature, which uses your phone's camera to create a customizable postcard , and make it really fun to send a postcard while you're on vacation. It helps get of how hard it is to send a postcard nowadays, where you have to look for a postcard at a kiosk, write out that postcard, find a stamp, and all sorts of other stuff. So, the apps all have twelve to thirdteen postcards per app with different scenes of town, and lets users put themselves in the picture. The example for the New York app, is your face becomes Lady Liberty's face, and you can then post it on Facebook or Tweet it. That's phase one.
Phase two, is looking at how adults travel when away from their kids. Maybe they have a weekend away, or they're grandparents, or it's couple of young guys going to Vegas for their bachelor weekend. We're really looking at changing around the travel guides that are in place right now, and provide more customizable information, which comes to the user, versus a user having to seek it out.
Where did the idea for the company come from?
Samantha Lurey: This is actually my third company. I'm more of a serial entrepreneur. My last company was a consulting firm, which was on the Inc. list. I sold that company in 2011, and then used the proceeds to start Go Trexx. In a former life, I was married and was a stepmom. While I was a stepmom, I got to see the underserved needs of kids traveling with their parents, the pain point I talked about earlier. I've also been doing extensive travel, and have been to twenty two countries, and a little over half of the U.S. I got frustrated every time I went to travel, and found that travel guides were either aimed at a 65 year old man, or maybe a 21 year old woman, but there was nothing customizable for me. I ended up hunting and pecking through to find the right information. Those experiences really sparked in me that the idea that this can be done better. And, in true entrepreneurial spirit, I figured if this could be done better, I could be the one to do it.
Can you talk about how you are rolling this out to different destinations?
Samantha Lurey: Our first product shipped in May, and we now have five towns in the market. We're launching five more over the next couple of months, as our team builds out the technology framework. We have a strong emphases on making it flexible and nimble, to allow for upload and deployment of content and information. It's really amazing, because our team can now go from soup to nuts on a new town in four to six weeks. They're developing the content, loading it into the framework, and getting it into the marketplace. That framework is beautiful in that way. The first five towns were a test for us on Android and Apple, and they're now working well. Our content development team has been fantastic, and has been able to source information quickly. We now have around 150 towns slated for release ove rthe next few years.
What have you learned so far about the mobile market?
Samantha Lurey: I've learned that mobile really gives people flexibility and freedom. It's really amazing that my particular product is in the shape it is now, and it's something that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. Technology is changing really fast, and it's all about giving users the information they need. Another mobile app which does that well, in my opinion, is HotelTonight. You can land in a city, open up that app, and find a hotel right around you. If you think back to when you used to have to call a travel agent, look on their website, and that sort of thing, it's just incredible that mobile provides so many benefits in daily life today.
One area which I think is important is a push by developers to develop clean apps, apps that won't drain battery life, and which are compatible with other programs. My particular product integrates into the phone, and we use the camera functionality for our postcard feature. We had to be very careful and did lots of extensive testing so that we wouldn't hog that from other apps, and to make sure we were compatible wit hother apps using the camera nad GPS. We haven't found that case normally with other apps. I think our industry has to fus on this before it becomes a huge problem.
What's your next big goal?
Samantha Lurey: Our next market segment is for adults. We're starting design and implementation of what the mobile app for that will look like now, and hope to roll that out in 2013. We also have five towns in development for the kids segment, and we'll be rolling those out continuously. The third thing, is we're tackling how to increase our market reach. We have incredible traction so far, but we want to expand that and get our name known internationally as well as domestically.