Travel-planning app Gogobot has become a secret weapon for having more fun in your daily life, the app's founder Travis Katz was surprised to learn.
Gogobot was born as a way to help you plan your vacation using your social networks. It taps your friends for recommendations for places to stay or eat, things to do. It also helps you build a network of like-minded travel peeps, people looking for outdoor adventure, shoestring travel, great places for kids, and so on.
About three months ago, the team launched a major revision of its mobile app and were pleasantly surprised when downloads started taking off. But what surprised them most was that people were suddenly using the app every week.
"On mobile, 70% of searches on Gogobot were for recommendations in their current location," Katz, CEO of the company, told us. "I'm standing here in this destination, right now. I'm looking for a bar, a good place to have a business lunch meeting, I've got a few hours to kill, where can I go now?"
They thought they were building an app that would be used a few times a year, maybe monthly, for planning travel. The team wound up building what they think of as an alternative to Yelp, at least for leisure time. (It doesn't cover everything Yelp does, like doctors or hairdressers).
And people were digging it. "Since we launched the new version, we are now seeing the majority of our users (56%) using the app every week, a 70% increase versus where we were a year ago."
The reason has something to do with the app's focus on what it calls "Tribes." When you sign up for the app, you join various tribes to find people with similar interests: adventure, art, history buffs, foodies, and so on.
Your recommendations come from your tribes. So if you are a parent looking for an affordable, kid-friendly, vegetarian restaurant, Gogobot can help. Yelp, not so easily.
"Our goal is to inspire people to get out and see the world. The app will alert you that the weekend is coming up, here’s an amazing state park near you," Katz explains. "People tend to stay in same routine, not because they don't want to try something new, but because they don’t want to waste money or time going out to say, a bad restaurant."
And one person's bad could be another's delight.
As more people use the app, the number of recommendations has grown. The app now has 720,000 reviews and 4 million photos for 60,000 destinations, Katz says. This has generated 580,000 tribe recommendations to date, he says.
The bigger the tribe, the more you're likely to discover cool new places. The three most popular tribes are outdoor adventure with 63,000 members, foodies at 61,000, and budget 55,000. But there's a bunch of other tribes that have 20,000-50,000 members, and many of these tribes are growing rapidly as people discover the app.