Lifestyle

Holiday Planning Website Touristly & Why I’m Sticking With Travel Agents

Travel is an exciting activity that helps one to learn about and better understand others — and oneself — while having fun. To meet the growing needs of travellers and tourists every year, plenty of startups and travel companies continue to reinvent the technology used to provide a seamless and a unique experience.

Tourists looking to visit new places can choose to head to a travel agency and book pre-planned travel packages — these are palatable for the masses, and if you do opt for one, chances are you will have an experience that’s identical to the experience of every other tourist.

Image Credit: Thaivisa.com
Image Credit: Thaivisa.com

Alternatively, you could go for a more hands-on approach, and choose the activities that truly suit you. This will give you a more unique experience, but will require you to scour the web looking for activities that you can either do by yourself or with your loved ones. This tends to be a tedious, time-consuming process.

And that’s where Touristly comes in.

What Is Touristly About?

Image Credit: Touristly
Image Credit: Touristly

Touristly is a web-based platform that helps you plan your holiday within minutes, by providing you with a list of activities that you might like to embark on while you’re on your holiday. It is currently available only in Asia and Australia.

Touristly doesn’t sell these activity packages; rather, they curate them from restaurants, spas and other tourist attractions located in particular countries or regions. Once you select the activities that you’d like to take part in, add them to your itinerary and when you checkout, bookings are automatically made.

Image Credit: Touristly
Image Credit: Touristly

Touristly is perfect for those who’ve already booked their plane tickets and hotels; once you’ve figured out the way to your holiday destination, that’s when the site comes in to help with the planning of your itinerary.

If It Were A Mobile App

While the idea behind Touristly might seem viable, there are still a few issues that I feel should be addressed. Firstly, I strongly feel that Touristly would have worked out better if it were a mobile app rather than a website. The reason why I say this is as a tourist, I feel that it would be quite cumbersome to have to visit the site (even though it’s mobile friendly) every time you need to check something. This is true especially when you’re on the move.

If Touristly were a mobile app, their users would just have to tap on an icon to view what they need, rather than going to the browser and then navigating to the site. Mobile apps also provide interactivity through push notifications, possibly reminding travellers about the next item on their itinerary.

(Update: Touristly mentioned that they will be releasing their own mobile app in the near future. In response to the above concern, Aaron Sarma – the CEO of Touristly,  said,

“The reason we opted to launch our fully responsive web app first was simply because in the travel industry, when it comes to making a transaction the vast majority of users use desktops to make purchases as compared to for discovery purposes. This does not mean that mobile apps are not emerging as a booking platform for travellers, hence the reason we too will have a mobile app.”

Looking forward to their mobile app.)

Image Credit: Touristly
Image Credit: Touristly

Glitches In The Web App

To test out the site, I created a dummy holiday in Bali. Once it was created, I was taken to the main page, where I was shown a map of Africa. I did a quick Google search and no, Bali is not in Africa — it’s in Indonesia (sigh).

(Update: Touristly responded quickly to the issues I was experiencing by adding in additional levels of stability.)

“In any case, we’ve added some additional levels of stability to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another user.”

 

Image Credit: Touristly
Image Credit: Touristly

Prices for each of the activities are listed in USD by default, which is fine — there’s an option at the bottom of the page to change it to RM or other currencies you prefer.

You can continue planning your trip from there, but the problem arises when you open up multiple activities in different tabs. The site somehow forgets that you have already created a trip before, as well as the currency that you’d like to view prices in: I had about 10 tabs open on my browser for potential activities, only to have to scroll down each and every page to change the currency back to RM. When I liked what I saw, I then found myself having to create a trip to Bali all over again.

(Update: Touristly has already released a bug fix for this issue next week. The bug fix will allow you to be add experiences from multiple tabs.)

(Update: Touristly recently released a bug fix for the issue. Users can now add experiences from multiple tabs without an issue.)

Image Credit: Touristly
Image Credit: Touristly

One other thing that I absolutely hate is the way information about each activity is presented. I’m not in the mood, and neither do I have the time to read an entire essay on Bali’s Reef Cruise. I feel the information could be presented better with graphics — something easy to digest — without one having to read piles of standard text.

Image Credit: Touristly
Image Credit: Touristly

That said, Touristly is still a relatively young site and it has a long way to go, and with many areas to improve on, before it receives widespread acclaim — at least in my book. For now, I guess I will be sticking with my travel agent if I ever see the need to go to Bali, in Indonesia.

 

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