Firstly a little background to the story. I had seen a lot of my contacts on LinkedIn using Tripit – you’d see the updates coming through all the time. Sam’s going to New York tomorrow using Tripit, Sue is coming back from Hong Kong via Tripit or Trev is stopping over in Dubai (that’s original) and Tripit thought you should know – so it all added up to a lot of travel envy with everyone telling me how much they were jet-setting, and of course you’re reading these while staring out the office window and contemplating a wet and cold ride home.
So I got to thinking that Tripit must be a bit of alright with all the cool kids traveling the world using it, hey I should get on to it too.
The Honeymoon Period
Like any new software (particularly free SaaS) there’s the rush of excitement you get when you see an online tool that’s actually useful, and yes, it’s free! Let the celebrations begin. You happily hand over all your personal details because, hey it’s free. My email address, age, gender and ethnic origin data is but a tiny price to pay for this amazing, life-transforming piece of online software.
In the world of freemium software, this is known as the ‘honeymoon period’ where users are giddy with delight over the ‘it-must-be-too-good-to-be-true-but-it-is’ concept that they can see nothing wrong with feeding all sorts of valuable information into the company’s database, and before you know it, 500 million users have signed up (actually Tripit only has around 250,000 but you get the idea).
It’s only when something goes oh so horribly wrong that reality hits.
The Honeymoon is Over
So after skipping through fields of fresh daisies and emailing travel bookings into my Tripit account, and it dutifully constructing it into an itinerary, I was cheerily singing its praises. But dark clouds were looming. Oblivious to the storm ahead I print out the itinerary, check it over, looks good and pop it in my carry on – done!
Three days later, I’m cursing Tripit, loudly, in a city that arrests people for such behavior. In the middle of a Singapore street and ten minutes walk from the bus terminal I realize Tripit has blinkin lied to me about the bus departure time – not 11.30 but rather 10.30, meaning our bus to Melaka had left almost 20 minutes ago. The staff at the bus terminal are mostly unhelpful and it’s just plain bad luck that it’s a long weekend in Malaysia meaning all the buses are full for that day. Freak out!
Fortunately someone heads us in the direction of another bus terminal where there is a bus leaving in a few hours – nightmare averted (yay) but paid for bus tickets up in smoke (boo). Thanks Tripit – not!
What did Tripit have to say for themselves?
A mildly amusing if not disappointing email thread was started with their support team. Below are their enlightening, unhelpful and self-serving replies… (the bus was on time and the time zone was set to the correct SGT zone)
I think it highlights a lesson that Tripit has holes and some bugs that could seriously mess up your holiday if you weren’t careful. It’s one thing to use a free online tool to calculate the day you’re going to die (trivial) and another to rely on it to make sure you don’t miss your flight (serious). I’ve heard other frequent travelers tell me it’s fine with a short journey but you add too many legs and it loses it (literally).
So the journey to find the perfect travel planning software continues…