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An Open Letter to Wanderfly.com

October 30, 2010

Dear Wanderfly.com:

I’ve been giddy with excitement since the launch of the site roughly two weeks ago. I thought to myself: finally, a travel site that gets it. Some of us want to be inspired. Some of us don’t really care where we go, as long as we go. Some of us have limited budgets, and although we may not be able to travel to the big tourist cities in Europe, there are other charming and more affordable small European towns that are worth a second (or a first!) look. Here’s what I wrote about the site in a blog post last week:

You choose your budget, your approximate dates of travel, where you’re flying from, and what you’d like to do once you arrive and Wanderfly will generate a whole list of wonderful destination possibilities for you that you can book on the spot. Sweetness. And so far (fingers crossed that this doesn’t change), the default setting for the number of travelers in the search is…wait for it…one. Solo travelers rejoice! No more double occupancy travel deal bait and switch. Where have you been all my life? The site is in beta right now so here’s hoping it becomes a great resource for budget-conscious solo travelers with a sense of adventure.

In my book, perhaps the most important feature of the site is that you actually cater to solo travelers. For the past few years, I’ve consistently fallen victim to the ol’ double-occupancy travel deal bait and switch. See advertised deal for an amazing vacation at an amazing price and follow the link, only to discover that the deal is based on double occupancy only, and that the price increases by a couple to several hundred dollars for the solo traveler. When I found Wanderfly and discovered that the site’s default search is based on a single traveler, I was beyond stoked.

So imagine how uneasy I became when I read a review of the site in the LATimes.com Travel Section Web Buzz. Here’s what Jen Leo, the writer of the article, had to say about Wanderfly:

Destination inspiration is not a new concept for the travelsphere. But Wanderfly keeps the process incredibly simple, which makes it more inviting than the competition.

So far, so good. However, Ms. Leo goes on to suggest that “The site seems suited to one person traveling alone, so the budget and activities may not be right for a couple or family.” This isn’t entirely accurate. How do I know? I had gone straight to the source.

I initially sent a tweet via Twitter to @Wanderfly last week after playing around with the site for a while:

I received a response from you almost immediately. Thanks for that, by the way.

Either Ms. Leo elected not to do her research prior to writing her review of Wanderfly or she neglected to state that the searches are, indeed, customizable to include more than one traveler.

I for one am excited about the potential of Wanderfly as an excellent resource for solo travelers as well as couples and families, so I’d like to offer something of a compromise to help reconcile the single occupancy/double occupancy debate: would you be able to include a field for the default number of travelers in each user profile? The default for my user account would always be for one traveler; maybe Joan Blow’s profile would include 4 travelers to account for herself and Mr. Blow as well as little Timmy and Janey? The search engine would then use that number of travelers for all of the searches conducted using that account.  If Mr. and Mrs. Blow decide every once in a while to go off on a romantic rendezvous alone, they can change the number of travelers using the method stated in your reply to my tweet.

The reason I was driven to write this open letter is because, as a solo traveler, I’ve grown weary of being jerked around by other travel sites. Solo travelers need love too, and I think Wanderfly is just the ticket. I’d hate to see the site go the way of other travel search engines and succumb to the ubiquitous double-occupancy paradigm.

That’s all. I just want to say again how much I really love the site and I can’t wait to book my first vacation using Wanderfly.

Best regards,

Marsha of Single Occupancy

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2010 10:21 pm

    Hi Marsha of Single Occupancy –

    I’m one of the co-founders of Wanderfly. Saw your letter late last night and felt compelled to write almost immediately, but fell into a necessary coma instead from lack of sleep this past week.

    Anyway, here I am and just want to say: MANY MANY thanks for your support. We (the whole team) are just thrilled to hear we’re helping to make your travels easier. That’s what we set out to do when we first started Wanderfly many months ago, and it’s really lovely to hear that we’re doing just that.

    We’ve heard the couples/family/group travel thing a few times before. It’s hard to satisfy everyone, especially as we’re just starting. So many different types of travelers out there, each with their own way of doing things. Not that that’s bad; it just means we need to find simple solutions that accommodate many cases. And that’s why we launched with the default as one traveler. Keep it simple to start. Yes, we may add specialized features for larger groups down the line, but we won’t do it at the expense of solo travelers – guaranteed. In fact, I like your suggestion – it’s one way to do it, for sure.

    So, thanks again for your kind words – really appreciate it!

    Christy

    • October 31, 2010 10:35 pm

      Thanks for your response, Christy! It’s reassuring to know that Wanderfly will continue to make travel easier for solo travelers. We’ll all try to be patient as the site grows and improves its services for all travelers.

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