Wanderfly is a New York-based travel startup which recommends holidays and trips based on their interests and budget. 

I've been asking Co-founder Christy Liu about Wanderfly...

In one sentence, what is Wanderfly?

Wanderfly is a travel inspiration site that helps people discover new experiences based on their budgets and interests. 

What problem does Wanderfly solve?

Most travel websites have very narrow search parameters, where the traveler has to know exactly when they are going and where they are going in order to get results.

However, most travelers don't always have those answers as soon as they decide they want to travel. They need inspiration. That's where Wanderfly comes in.

With great open-ended search parameters and results, Wanderfly gives travelers exciting recommendations on where to take their next trip. Travelers can then browse activities, create lists of destinations, search curated activities and content, and even browse and book flights and hotels.

It's the natural progression of travel planning, from start to finish.  

When and why did you launch it?

We launched in October 2010 because we saw that a large traveler need was not being met. The response we've received has shown that many people agree with us. 

Who is your target audience?

With many different recommendations based on both a traveler's budget and their interests, Wanderfly can be curated for a wide variety of audiences.

Most of our users are young professionals who are looking to find great experiential trips, from those looking for a romantic getaway to those wishing to scale mountains and experience the outdoors.

We've found that a variety of travelers come to find inspiration at Wanderfly.  

What are your immediate goals?

Our immediate goals are to build traffic and establish great strategic partnerships. We have already seen a steady increase in our traffic numbers and those numbers continue to rise as more and more travelers get excited about what we're doing.

We are constantly trying to find other great brands that help us showcase awesome travel experiences for our users.  

What were the biggest challenges involved in building Wanderfly?

We wanted to build Wanderfly with the user in mind, and that's the main reason behind the design and functionality of the site. You'll notice when you visit Wanderfly that its a simplistic, almost minimalist, approach to the usual clutter you see on online travel sites.

The biggest challenge was making sure we kept the functionality and simplicity of the site intact while making sure we give users great options for travel. 

How will the company make money?

A few ways: custom sponsorships with brands that want to own/customize their own areas on Wanderfly; technology licensing with other sites that want to use Wanderfly's proprietary technology to power their own content; commissions from bookings (hotels, flights, activities, etc.) that users make on our site.

Who is in the team and what does it look like?

Wanderfly has four co-founders and several employees, including those that manage production, marketing, business development and content. Despite our growth of business, we've decided to stay small to stay flexible.

We work in Projective Space in Soho, New York where most of us work from our laptops from desks, tables and couches. We pride ourselves in being a very closely knit team. 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five year’s time?

In one year we want a large number of people and brands to help us curate better travel recommendations.

In three years we want to be synonymous with the [online] starting point of travel.

In five years we want to be the company that gets people all over to travel more.

Graham Charlton

Published 11 August, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (6)

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Angelina Foster

I've been waiting for a travel website like this for ages! I'm always looking for inspiration, but ones that interest me, not random ones! Looking forward to giving it a go.

about 7 years ago


Martin Ryan

I wonder if they are being optimistic about the commission income. Once a traveller has received their inspiration, won't they go to a traditional travel site to check for prices and specific hotels, flights etc?

about 7 years ago


Kerry Farmer, Asst Director Sales & Marketing at The Eton collection

I was wondering how the brand partnerships work? I looked at two brands, Quintessentially & Cool Hunting and what they recommended me to do in London. Both recommended the same hotels (powered by Hotels.com in a generic list). Both recommended the same activities, powered by various social media review sites (yelp, foursquare) with recommendation by the general public, not by the brands themselves.
Surely, there should be recommending different things, based on their brand perception?

about 7 years ago


Partha Bhattacharya

This is a good one, a really good one! Just the other day someone sent me a YT video on places to visit in Spain. I wrote her to make a video on exactly what Wanderfly offers...things like how to manage a 'whole travel' in Spain within a budget! No one needs to know what's to see in Spain! It's already available on the net. But one surely needs to know how to 'manage' a trip with a tight budget.

Thanks Graham, and thanks Wanderfly!

about 7 years ago


Joanneke Visser, Online Marketing Manager at Vodafone

Sounds interesting, but is clearly more to be developed than that it covers enough areas. I entered a couple of basic parameters (ie Maldives, beach, watersports) and it just keeps delivering 'Roll again, couldn't find anything'. It doesn't specifiy where the parameters are a problem, and even with me changing dates, price range etc, I didn't get it to return anything.

almost 7 years ago

Joseph Buhler

Joseph Buhler, Principal at buhlerworks

Wanderfly is one of the recent entrants in what has become quite a crowded field of trip planning sites. They are trying to solve the problem of providing inspiration for the undecided traveler not yet ready or interested in a booking which is where the major online travel agencies have staked their claim almost fifteen years ago.

A major challenge these start-ups face is market penetration and wide consumer adoption. Most are flying under the radar of the huge travel audience who are ending up at the booking sites or supplier sites where the planning experience is frustrating and disappointing. Or, they end up on destination sites that offer a wide range of information but hardly any compelling planning tools or booking capability.

This disconnect needs to be closed to better serve the customer. Start-ups have to establish relationships with the high volume traffic sites to gain traction while at the same time allowing those sites to offer a better experience. Such a b2b model is ultimately more successful but also tougher to achieve as established sites often don't want to make significant changes on their existing sites.

To ultimately succeed financially, however, the gap has to be bridged and the sooner the better.

almost 7 years ago

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