Triptease Interview

Charlie Osmond with Triptease talks about their beautiful approach to travel reviews.

Transcript

Marcus
So, tell us your name and the name of the company and your role in the company.
Charlie
I’m Charlie Osmond, the company’s called Triptease and I’m the Chief Tease.
Marcus
And what is Triptease?
Charlie
So we help people create beautiful, shareable travel reviews.
Marcus
Okay. So there’s a lot of travel sites these days, right?
Charlie
Yeah.
Marcus
How is Triptease different?
Charlie
So we think at the moment review sites are just about the most ugly sites on the web. And so we’re trying to make reviews beautiful.
Marcus
Like Trip Advisor ugly?
Charlie
Very. And also it doesn’t really bring to the fore who has written the review. So often, you know, you might read a review and it might put you off or it might excite you, but actually it’s been written by someone with completely different standards than your own. So we want to bring to bring reviews to the fore, which we can do by having a real name policy and by helping people create content that they’re proud of because if you’re proud of the content and you’re proud enough to share it then we think that you’ll be your real self and the community can get real value out of that.
Marcus
So as the Founder, how did you conceive of this idea?
Charlie
I think, I mean a few things. Most of all, a couple of years ago, after two weeks of frustrated looking online, I finally decided on a hotel and booked it.
Marcus
Okay.
Charlie
And then came the real challenge, could I convince my wife that this was the right decision and I thought, I know, I’ll show her some review and let someone else do the talking. But, as soon as I looked at reviews, I found like the joy, the anticipation, being sucked from my soul, because you spent all this money on a nice hotel and yet when you read the reviews, they just put you off, it’s just like a negative. And also, there’s this problem that even the best hotels in the world are on the same ranking list as the worst hotels in the world and so you’ve got hotels of very different classes, visitors with very different expectations, ranking everyone in the same way, and as a result I just think you don’t get a sense of, here’s a person like me, here’s what they thought, therefore I’ll go. So I was upset and frustrated when I was showing my wife so I said, I’ve got to fix reviews. Because this is a huge business that a decade hasn’t changed; like reviews have barely changed for a decade.
Marcus
Did your wife let you go on the trip in that hotel?
Charlie
Yeah, I’d say in the end, yes we did.
Marcus
And how was it?
Charlie
It was fabulous. And I made a review on Triptease, so now people can see what standard it is.
Marcus
So are you going to have negative reviews on your site as well as positive? That’s sort of the idea of reviews, right?
Charlie
Yes, absolutely, we have the good and the bad. But, I think the difference is that we think that, whether it’s good or whether it’s bad, the layout, the design of the site can still be good, right? You can read a bad review in the New York Times, but it’s still a well designed magazine. And, I think 5 years ago, design didn’t really matter on the Web, but now, I mean the Social Web especially, images, design, it’s just so important, and we just want to bring it forwards.
Marcus
Yeah, the bar is much higher.
Charlie
Absolutely.
Marcus
I like what you said about—how do people like me—how do they rate the site? How do you go about finding out if the people writing the reviews are like me?
Charlie
All right, so we have an asynchronous following model like Twitter, so it’s a bit like Twitter for travel.
Marcus
Okay.
Charlie
So you can find—very quickly, you get a sense of where these people have been, are they places that I’ve been, what kind of----
Marcus
Hmmm.
Charlie
Yeah. So I think the main way that people will find others in the community is they’ll probably search for a hotel they went to recently. What did I think of that hotel, then we look at the other people who went there and how they reviewed it. Oh, this person seems interesting, I see this as maybe a luxury travel blogger, or maybe—I mean, also we’re trying to get people from the industry, so it might be the General Manager of ‘The W’ here in San Francisco has gone on holiday, or vacation, sorry, and written a review and that would be somebody you’d think, well, they’ve got high standards I’ll read what they—what they’d do.
Marcus
Sure, when you guys—when you were talking to the Panel, they mentioned the idea that a lot of the reviews that are coming in now are paid reviews. How do you intend to combat that, or is that something you’re going to address?
Charlie
I think the main thing we are doing is we have a real name policy, so if you think about when travel reviews were set up a decade ago or 12 years ago, before the days of MySpace, everyone hid behind fake names, whereas now, I think people are used to using their names, so we force people to either log in with Facebook or using real names. That brings I guess a layer of reality to the reviews and then the other thing we do is hotels and travel agents often refer people to us. They’ll say please write a review of our hotel and when we know a hotel has come up, we can track where that person came—how they came to us and we can stamp their review as certified as having been there.
Marcus
Okay. If Triptease was a Super Hero, what would its super power be?
Charlie
Beauty! Beauty. Yeah, we would be able to—I mean with one move of the arm, suddenly everything looks good!
Marcus
Everything looks good. Even the ugly is covered up.
Charlie
Well, not covered up, but everything looks—everything looks----
Marcus
Extremely well.
Charlie
Exactly. Everything’s in order.
Marcus
Nice. Is there anything you’d like to tell our audience as we close?
Charlie
Yeah, go try Triptease. You can download us on iPad after this week. We are going to change the way people read and write reviews on line.
Marcus
Awesome. Well thank you very much.
Charlie
Thank you very much.