More women from Singapore and around South East Asia are beginning to embark on solo travels. In fact, it’s been found that there are now even more women making solo trips than men. And while solo travelling can be a unique and interesting experience, it’s sometimes more fun — not to mention safe — to have someone else accompanying you on your travels.
If you often have trouble finding suitable companions with whom to share these wonderful moments, Wander might just be the app for you.
Founded and recently launched by Singaporean technopreneur Krystal Choo, Wander is a travel companion app that caters to the often-overlooked niche of single travellers. What’s one corner of the world that’s always been on your bucket list? Once you login through Facebook and input your desired destination into the app, you can look through the profiles of people planning to travel to the same location. And as soon as you match up with the person of your choice, you can start making travel plans together.
Don’t get the wrong impression, though: Wander isn’t just a dating app with a travel twist. Far from it — what Choo aims to create is a friendly, trustworthy singles community passionate about seeing the world.
“Wander is a really positive social network. You might be surprised how much more interesting and sincere our members are in meeting and exploring a world without strangers. And I think people may even be surprised at themselves — how open-minded they become when their interactions are framed in a more pressure-free environment than, say, a straight-up dating app.”
The Magic of Travel
Most people can attest that a travel experience away from the familiar is always special, even life-changing. Asked about what sparked her interest in travelling, Choo points toward the eye-opening effects of colourful new sights and places:
“Travel allows you to be a different person and challenges your beliefs. And the experience creates an unknown space where you are somewhere between escaping from someplace and escaping to a different life — I enjoy that ambiguity, and I know I’m not unique in feeling that.”
The inspiration for Wander came about when Choo and her colleague were facing difficulties in their respective searches for travel buddies. In an interview with TechInAsia, she explained that as a single and travel lover herself, Choo was her own best customer — she understood the frustration of singles struck with both wanderlust and the need to share the wonder of their adventures.
With Wander, Choo wants to make it simple for singles to connect, meet up, and have an experience that is not just “thrilling and indelible”, but repeatable.
The Wander Journey, Past And Future
Launched for iOS just a few days ago, the reception for Wander has been spectacular so far. With no marketing, the app has seen a day-on-day growth of 27-46% user signups, and they’ll be launching it for Android in a week. Even before its official launch, the idea had managed to attract tremendous interest — Choo reveals that they received thousands of signups on their prelaunch landing page within the first week.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Choo in the beginning, though. Before Wander, there was ZipTrip, an intelligent predictive pricing travel platform that failed to gain traction. However, her tenacity paid off: after the idea for Wander struck, she “pivoted in 9 days to Wander… And I never looked back.”
So what’s on the cards for this startup that’s already seeing huge momentum? Certainly, Choo does foresee some challenges ahead. For starters, there’re the ‘stranger danger’ concerns which immediately spring to mind when you think about meeting someone unfamiliar in a foreign place. She hopes to address these concerns:
“We’ll need to clearly communicate that it’s actually lower risk to use Wander, because you’re meeting someone for an activity; someone you’ve had constant contact with before, which could actually be less dangerous than meeting a stranger off the streets in a new city.”
Besides that, Choo fears that after some time, Wander may hit a roadblock as the consumer fatigue of joining yet another social network sets in. But considering the strong international response from singles, and the fact that there’re few travel apps capitalising on the singles market thus far, it seems unlikely that enthusiasm for Wander will die down anytime soon.
And right now, Wander shows no signs of slowing down. In terms of future orientation, Choo says, “On the tech side, Wander’s direction is deeply neural…We’ll be focusing on learning what gives people a pleasurable app experience, and aim to take the friction out of online interaction.” She shares her exciting long-term vision for Wander:
“Wander will expand into different territories rapidly, so that we can encourage local and travelling singles to meet,” she says. “Our vision is to create a world without strangers, not just one between travellers.”
“This is 2015 and we’re only scraping the tip of how positive and engaging a great digital interaction experience can be. I believe Wander can make this a home run, just because we care so damn much about providing that positive experience.”