They say planning is half the fun of travel. But we all know that it’s not always the case as making preparations sometimes gets so complicated and stressful that it takes the joy out of travel.
It is especially true if you are looking to spice up your trip by doing some kiteboarding, skiing, surfing, hiking, or any other adventurous activities.
Perhaps no one knows it better than outdoor types who have spent a large part of their lives trying to navigate the labyrinth of travel planning, just like Brennan Basnicki from Toronto, Canada.
Born to parents who first met while windsurfing and having a mom with a decades-long career as a flight attendant, Brennan has adventure and travel in his blood.
He started skiing at two, ski raced for 10 years, had a stint as a ski coach while attending the University of Western Ontario, and recently got into kitesurfing.
After spending a decade in institutional investment management, he made a career U-turn to launch ripatrip to help rid travelers of the need to flip through hundreds of pages of information while planning their trips.
“I travel a lot and…I’ve always found it very difficult to figure out where to go,” Brennan told Via News in an exclusive interview.
Founded in Portugal, ripatrip is striving to build “not just the best, but the broadest” travel, activity, and destination data source with a variety of personalization options.
“You have a lot of data from cost, from weather to seasonal factors, to specific things about the activity that you want to do. Putting all that together into one search is very difficult, and you end up spending a ton of time online doing that. And even in doing so, a lot of times, I’ve ended up in destinations that weren’t that great,” ripatrip’s founder said.
He explained that they intend to make a better search process initially for kitesurfing and will then expand into skiing, surfing, hiking, and beyond.
According to Brennan, the idea for ripatrip started in 2016 and they officially incorporated last summer. Their journey began at Startup Lisboa, and their platform rolled out in December.
Target Groups, Destinations
Asked about their main clients, he said they are trying to reach out to two groups, namely travelers and partners.
“Our primary value proposition to users is figuring out where to go for their personal best experience,” he noted, adding, “A secondary component we have is integrating platforms. We’re figuring out all the best platforms for each destination that you can book things at. So these are our partners.”
Ripatrip, in its own words, is partnering with “the best platforms and marketplaces” specific to the chosen activity and destination.
Currently, about 300 kitesurf destinations all across the world are available on ripatrip. Wind filters and other kitesurf preferences such as beginner-friendly, family-friendly, and flat water can be applied to narrow down search results. Best destinations for ski, surf, and hiking will be added in the coming months.
A 2012 report by the International Kiteboarding Association and World Sailing (formerly the International Sailing Federation) said there are around 1.5 million kiteboarders worldwide.
Ripatrip estimates that there are around 1 million competent kiteboarders in the world and potentially 2-3+ million people who participate in or travel for kiteboarding per year.
According to the 2019 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism by Laurent Vanat whose international reports are acknowledged worldwide as the reference for ski industry figures, there were an estimated 130 million skiers and snowboarders as of 2018.
ILoveClimbing suggests there are around 38.5 million climbers in the world. In 2014, the International Surfing Association estimated that there would be 50 million surfers in 2020.
On what makes ripatrip stand out in the market, Brennan said, “No one’s focused on the destination discovery. You have platforms where you can find various activities and things to do but they don’t segregate the conditions or an environment at a destination from the activity.”
There are platforms for surfing or skiing but the information that can be searched through is generally the tour operator’s data points, he added.
Ripatrip’s founder says there are well-known travel sites that cover different activities and provide platforms for searching for surf camps, for example.
“But you’re searching the information that all surf camps have provided. So they are all telling you that they are very beginner-friendly or they are very good for experts.”
There is a lot of “bias” and there is no segregation of where travelers should go for that specific activity and what platforms or camps offer that experience, Brennan commented.
“We’re trying to segregate that and create a less biased, more reliable, and better search process.”
Ripatrip is partnering with “the best marketplaces” and is trying to create a less biased, more reliable, and better search process.
On the feedback that they have received since the launch of their platform, ripatrip’s founder said, “We were looking at two things: What people are saying and what they’re doing on the website.”
People are spending a lot of time on the website and they like the “ease” and the “personalization” with which they can search, he added.
He believes that the search process is their strength. “We’re very much a search platform, but, in some essence, we’re also a travel guide.”
Asked about their marketing efforts, he said, “We’re working on some of the content and SEO, which is kind of a longer-term [goal], and we have a variety of partners from kiteboarding sites to surfing sites that we’re looking at to create mutually beneficial partnerships on content and distribution.”
Brennan began his business with his savings, but the company now has a private American investor.
Explaining their revenue model, he said, “The thing that we’re building or our biggest opportunity is B2B affiliate metasearch.”
According to him, ripatrip is, to a large extent, similar to TripAdvisor whose customer acquisition is through reviews.
“So if you’re looking for a hotel, you would use their review system. That’s how you get there. But when you go to book, you don’t book within TripAdvisor. They link you out to another site.”
He said they are essentially building a similar thing. “Our customer acquisition is [through] our search and our data. So not reviews but a more robust unbiased search platform and then the same model.”
“We’re very much a search platform, but, in some essence, we’re also a travel guide.”Brennan Basnicki, founder of ripatrip
Brennan added that ripatrip is also somehow similar to Skyscanner, an online travel company based in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh, which helps users find the best options across flights, hotels, and car rentals.
Skyscanner has a different customer acquisition model but they generally make money where they get higher conversions based on their notifications, he said.
“So all of a sudden, your flight is more affordable, is cheaper, you book, and it’s kind of those time-sensitive notifications that allow them to get higher conversions.”
According to Brennan, ripatrip is building the “same thing” but in a more broad manner in the sense that they will give the user an update when the “ideal” experience they are looking for is “realizable”, “feasible”, and “affordable”, rather than just updating them when the flight is cheaper.
For example, he says, the user can choose to go to a surf trip that costs under $1,000 at a destination that is less than six hours away, has a nightlife, and has a reef break or a beach break or some sort of surf-specific characteristic.
“We can triangulate all these different preferences and data points into one search and do the same thing that Skyscanner is doing, but much more broadly.”
Rip Your Next Trip
The vision that Brennan has in mind for ripatrip is reflected in the name of his company.
“In skiing, surfing, kiteboarding, and a lot of sports, ‘rip’ is a very common thing. You want to ‘rip it up’ or ‘rip your session’. The whole concept behind ripatrip is you wanna have a really good experience. You wanna have your best kind of holiday or travel experience. You’re gonna rip your next trip,” he said when asked how he came up with the name for his startup.
It resonated with a lot of people, Brennan added, while promising an “awesome” experience with ripatrip.