Welcome is a new app that CEO Matthew Rosenberg said is designed for a more spontaneous approach to traveling.
“What we’re going after is these millennials [and] Gen Z travelers who feel comfortable going in the moment,” Rosenberg told me. “Eighty-five percent of people aren’t even looking at activities before they arrive.”
So instead of asking travelers to create their own itineraries by browsing through a list of recommendations, Welcome builds the itinerary for them. When you’re planning to visit a destination, or when you’ve arrived and are wondering what the do, you can open Welcome and browse through a list of potential locations and activities, indicating which ones interest you. You can also browse recommendations from local experts, or ask for tips from your friends.
Wander then uses your responses to create a schedule for you, consisting both of places you’ve explicitly said you want to visit and of things that would probably be of interest. The itineraries are also based on location, with different travel options like taking an Uber or Lyft, mass transit or walking.
Most intriguingly, the itineraries adjust in real-time — if one of the items on the list doesn’t interest you, you can swipe to skip it, and Wander will automatically fill in the gap with new activities. Or if you find a great spot where you want want to spend the whole afternoon, the app will once again adjust. Rosenberg said it’s even pulling in weather data, so “if we were going to send you to a park in the afternoon, and at lunch it starts raining, we can replace it with a museum.”
He acknowledged that this approach might be less suited for travelers who like to plan everything in advance — but even then, he noted, “The truth is, for all the planning that happens, most people’s plans tend to fall apart in the moment. Something always changes, some alley you want to go down, some boat you want to take, some sort of adventure that if you didn’t take it, you’d regret. That’s what we’ve really tried to embrace.”
Rosenberg added that the app could eventaully introduce new ways for users to more explicitly filter the results based on their preferences — say, if they’re particularly interested in theater or museums, or if they’re on a tight budget.
Welcome says it already offers recommendations in more than 250 cities worldwide.
It’s a free app, and Rosenberg said the focus is on growth, not monetization. While he plans to make money by driving purchases and transactions, he said Welcome will never be “advertising-driven”: “Everything we show you is authentic. No one’s paying us to send you to some mediocre restaurant.”
The startup was founded by Rosenberg (who previously founded video app Cameo) and Peter Gerard, and it’s raised $1.2 million in seed funding led by 3 Rodeo.
“What we use today in travel is rooted in this old-school style of thinking,” Rosenberg said. “What I mean by that is, most travel sites put a bunch of pins on a map, but it’s still up to you look around and figure out what to do. I don’t think anyone’s really thought: How can we take advantage not only of the mobile device, but really the data that’s out there right now … No one’s really built tools for our generation.”