A new source of online travel advice is launching soon, connecting independent travellers directly with expert travel writers, bloggers, photographers, guide book writers, and influencers, who then get paid for their advice.
Nugggit.com is the brainchild of Aron Mercer and Henry Talbot who are based in Sydney Australia, and who are keen to add expert travel writers to their beta version of the app, before it goes live at the end of this month.
How does it work?
Travellers, whether in the planning stage or perhaps travelling already, can create a 'Request' to have an instant message chat or call with travel experts who have specific knowledge of locations and activities e.g. Mountain Biking in Banff, Photographing the Aurora Borealis, River Cruising in Europe, Street Food in Rome, etc.
If the Traveller does not know which expert they want to chat to, they create a Request which has trip details including destination and activity. This Request is matched automatically to experts in that area. If there's more than one suitable expert, the traveller can then review & select the one he/she prefers.
The traveller can buy any of 3 'chat' durations with the expert...
- 15 minute Chat - $39 USD
- 30 minute Chat - $59 USD
- 60 minute Chat - $99 USD
The traveller can purchase the Expert's time directly from their profile page. By selecting 'Purchase' the system alerts the Expert which chat product + which expertise the Traveller has requested from them. The expert can include a link to their calendar to 'book' a chat slot or they can agree 'manually' a convenient time to talk or message each other.
The financial transaction is handled by Nugggit's international payment platform, Stripe.com, which covers 20 countries with more on the way. As soon the product is purchased by credit card, funds are transferred in a couple of days to the expert, less 20% retained by Nugggit.
Nugggit currently has 156 experts signed up, covering over 56 countries, and they want to grow the pool of experts to around 500 - 1,000.
"It's important to build our expert base first," says Aron, "because people are used to paying for advice in other areas of their life, but there's loads of [free] travel advice out there. So our strategy is to unlock the audience that travel writers already have."
The travel experts will be screened manually to ensure they do have genuine expertise in their areas.
The beta version of the new Nugggit site will use Skype to handle the chats - text, voice or video - but the plan is to build their own chat app (something they are already working on), which will simplify the process and speed it up. Henry & Aron recognise that the business model is not only based on trip-planning but also trip-support. In other words, travellers already in destination looking for advice, suggestions and reassurance from local experts.
Other planned developments include the ability for experts to set their own extended price plans (eg $300 USD for an hour's video chat) and, more long term, they plan to build Artificial Intelligence (AI) functionality into the app so that it can monitor chats and provide answers, at a low price (eg $5 USD), to simple queries automatically, since they think 80% of queries will be FAQs.
That automated element aside, the mission is primarily about personalised expert advice.
"Our aim," says Henry, "is to encourage travellers to 'Explore Bravely' and off the beaten tourist track, and chat makes that easier. There are a million trip planning things out there where it's easy to find the 'Top Ten things to do in Madrid', but if you are into, say, antique furniture, then that depth of knowledge that might be on page 5 of Google, can come to the fore straightaway."
"Yes, we see great power in the conversation," says Aron. "For example, we would love, in a constructive way, for travel writers to provide some pushback by saying to someone: Don't go there. It's so over rated. Try this instead. Sometimes you just want a second opinion."
The Nugggit site is expected to go live around 28th March. Until then there is not much to see, but you can register your interest to be an expert.