Elevator Pitch: TravelGiver

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Kimi Anderson from TravelGiver.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

TravelGiver is a one-stop-travel-shop for socially conscious travellers, allowing them to donate up to eight per cent of their booking to community projects worldwide at no extra cost. Users simply log on, choose a booking agent and select from one of hundreds of ethical grass roots initiatives worldwide that assist communities in need. The donation is then made automatically.

Since its launch in 2013, TravelGiver has already helped hundreds oft ravellers and now lists 300 projects in 50 countries, giving travellers an amazing choice of where their money goes.

Travellers can book with 26 booking agents, including major travel brands Etihad, Contiki, Booking.com, Intrepid, Hertz, Expedia, Lonely Planet and Zuji giving users access to flights, accommodation, cruises, packages, car rental, insurance and guides all over the world.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

Giving travellers greater choice and responding to their needs are key to growing TravelGiver. Since May 2013, TravelGiver has expanded from 40 projects in 4 countries to over 300 countries in 50 countries. TravelGiver launched with 3 booking agents and now offers 26 major global travel brands. A new upgrade of the website was recently released taking incorporating customer feedback and using some data insights from Google Analytics.

Also, TravelGiver is now catering for the business traveller. A new corporate program has been added, helping businesses that book their own travel online to give easily while they travel. Companies will now have the option to select their preferred community project to make giving quick and easy every time.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

The biggest challenge for TravelGiver is creating awareness and staying top of mind as a travel purchase is not an everyday transaction. Getting people to know about TravelGiver is one thing but it is really important that I maintain the communication and engagement so that they remember TravelGiver a few months later when they are booking a trip. Creating an emotional connection with the brand and the projects are key to closing the gap between intention and actual action.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

TravelGiver is the original giving site to use this model in Australia and has been fortunate to build a strong community of users and supporters. Both travellers and community projects love how innovative and unique TravelGiver is. Travellers can choose who they book with, who they give to, without paying a cent more. TravelGiver is also different from other travel sites as it has also become a platform for users to research projects that can be visited, how to arrange a visit and what one can take. The ability to filter projects by country, region, category and visit access provides socially conscious travellers with information all one site that they previously would have spent hours searching for.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

While Wunderlist, Evernote Facebook pages and Twitter get a good workout, the app that I currently could not do without is Fitbit. I know this app is more of a personal one rather than business, but working from home, I have been making a real conscious effort to start walking and getting fitter. Measuring my steps through Fitbit has really helped motivate and push myself. While I am out walking, I can use other apps, listen to TEDtalks and really think about what needs to be done and why. I have found that the more steps I do, the better I feel prepared to tackle work challenges and the more productive I feel at the end of each day. The Fitbit app really makes me get away from the computer screen and this is the best way to get new ideas, feel energised and enjoy the work-life choices that I have made.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

The best advice I received in the early days was "it is not about perfection, it is about continual self-correction" and this is so true. Everything changes so quickly so the idea of perfection is obsolete. It is better to get your ideas and product out there, listen to customers, incorporate their feedback and continually evolve to meet the changing market needs.

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