What do a cork board, sticky notes, note cards, and an Apple style interface have in common? Travel planning of course. Start-up DuffelUp.com is trying carve out their niche in the crowded online trip planning space by offering something a little different, an interface that is simple and familiar. When you plan a trip with Duffel, you create a “Duffel” (presumably like a duffle bag) and collect things to do, accommodations, and notes that are all organized on your cork board as sticky notes and note cards.
Why I like Duffel
I’m a big fan of a number of trip planning and guide sites including Nile Guide, TripIt, TravelMuse, and Uptake. All of these sites are very good at what they do and offer a variety of features that add value to the planning process. What I like about Duffel is that it is focused on making the planning process simple and elegant. The current version imports hotels and things to do items from sources like Hotels.com and Viator, but you are not limited to the products available through Duffel, in fact, using the bookmarklet you can add notes, accommodations, and things to do from a variety of sites including the existing travel guide sites. Most of the features that in Duffel already exist on other sites: the bookmarklet is very similar to the Travelmuse widget, the display of the itinerary is similar to TripIt, and the printable itinerary is very similar to NileGuide’s personalized guide. What is unique about Duffel is the way it presents the trip planning process to the user. The Apple influenced design, sticky notes, and note cards are simple to visualize, move, and edit making the planning process a fun experience. Adding fun to the process can make the difference between using a tool once and using a tool over and over again.
So, will Duffel attract enough eyeballs to gain marketshare and make a real splash in the trip planning space? That’s hard to tell at this stage. A compelling interface may not be enough to convince users that they should be using a virtual cork board and sticky notes to organize their trips. But, although the trip planning space may seem crowded there is still room for new entrants. One possible partnership opportunity would be to look at providing trip planning technology to destinations and other travel guide websites. Content sites could benefit from having a tool like Duffel by allowing consumers to cut and paste snippets of content that can be saved and re-used.
Have you tried Duffel? I’d love to hear your thoughts.