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The online travel sector is fiercely competitive, with airlines, agents and aggregator sites all doing battle for people’s attention and cash.

It’s becoming difficult to compete on price alone, so the user experience is an increasingly important way for sites to distinguish themselves.

Similarly, decisions on where to take your next holiday involve a lot of research, so travel brands need to focus on providing relevant content to attract potential customers.

In general the travel industry is still playing catch up in this regard, with many sites yet to even establish a decent mobile presence, which has allowed InspiredAway to steal a march on its more-established competitors.

Built using responsive design, the site provides inspiration and advice on potential holiday destinations, while also allowing users to search for the best deals.

I spoke to founder Rob Berrisford to find out more...

1. In one sentence, what is your product/service?

InspiredAway is a travel platform with two key aims... to entertain and to inspire with a range of engaging content.

2. What problem(s) does it solve?

We view the site's value add as threefold:

  1. To give you ideas and inspiration of where to go on your holiday.
  2. To reduce the fragmentation once you've selected a destination by comparing flight prices and hotels using our "Get Away" sidebar.
  3. To simply entertain our audience even when they're not set to book a holiday.

3. What are your immediate goals?

To build an engaged user base.

4. What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?

One of the biggest challenges was trying to get the product right - picking and choosing elements and features that were right and added value to the product for our prospective users, and ditching those that didn't.

Secondly, we have to work on getting the content mix right. Identifying the right areas that users will find engaging and inspiring is an interesting challenge that we look forward to taking up.

5. How will the company make money?

We intend to make money from a combination of CPA marketing and native content-based advertising, however the first thing and our main priority is in being user-first and building an engaged user base before worrying too much about making money... though I guess that's what all startups say until they run out of money.

6. Who is in your team?

The product is a partnership between myself and Joshua James. Between us we have combined 22 years working in senior management at some of the biggest web properties in the UK including Quidco, TopTable, MyVoucherCodes and VoucherCodes.co.uk.

7. Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

Hmm, I always hate this question... I guess at the moment we're just focusing on the here and now and building a product with a large, engaged user base.

There are all kind of directions we've thought about and considered for the product, but this will largely be dictated by user feedback and analytical data.

I guess the dream is to build a hugely popular travel platform with engaging content, whether that content is curated, user generated, or bespoke that eventually results in more people doing things, taking holidays and having experiences that they wouldn't have otherwise have had.

8. Other than your own, what are your favourite websites / apps / tools?

The usual, we're regulars on all the social networks, in addition to a bit of Football365 and the usual tech blogs including, of course, Econsultancy... LOVE Econsultancy. 

Apps wise, Asana and Mailchimp have been integral in the development of InspiredAway whilst I pretty much rely on Uber to get me home every time I have more than three pints!

David Moth

Published 14 May, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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