New way to book travel: Chinese site helps travelers get details right
Even if you don’t speak a word of Mandarin, you can become a trusted China travel consultant.
And we don’t mean you should lie.
With Trekiz (www.trekiz.com), an innovative Beijing-based travel website, almost anyone can plan and book a one-of-a-kind China travel itinerary with just a few mouse clicks.
A made-in-China travel innovation
Unlike most travel sites, which provide limited purchase options (flights, hotels, set tours), Trekiz (short for “trek easy”) breaks down trips to their smallest components: activities.
We want to build a travel website that can satisfy the strangest travel needs from the strangest person.
— Tian Wenqing (田文清), founder and CEO of Trekiz
Users can choose from more than a thousand activities in China and overseas (activities range from two-hour tea workshops to three-week Silk Road guided tours), arrange them in the most beneficial order then link up their preferred days with flights and hotels.
The result is a tailor-made travel itinerary.
“You can buy tickets to a scenic spot, then book a car, then hire a local tour guide, it’s all up to the you,” says Tian Wenqing (田文清), founder and CEO of Trekiz, which went online in March 2011.
“[Attending] different activities on different days in a different order can make all the difference differently to different users,” he sort-of clarifies. “With 1,029 activities and growing, our users get endless possibilities on our site.”
It’s almost like playing with Lego: you choose the blocks, stack them up in different orders to build different structures.
“We’ve been looking online and haven’t seen any other website that’s doing what we do,” Tian says.
“Many self-guided travelers and backpackers only start planning the next leg of their trip after they arrive in a new city or country because they don’t have other choices.
“There is no travel site providing standardized, end-to-end, cross-border tourism services.”
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Without any mass media promotion, the site has attracted attention from such high-profile clients as U.S. fashion designer Lana Marks.
Tian, 45, came up with the idea for Trekiz in 2000 while studying at the London Business School.
At the time, however, Internet technology couldn’t support his intuitive platform.
In 2008, the Wuhan native quit his job as a strategy and planning director at Cisco Systems to assemble a team of tech gurus to help him realize his dream site.
Two years and US$800,000 later, Tian brought to the world a patented (in China) platform, which allows travelers to design their own trips.
In 2010, the site received the Red Herring 100 Asia Award for technological innovation.
The “clever platform,” as Tian calls it, can apply to many industries, but tourism has long been his interest.
“I love self-guided travel and I mostly travel solo,” he says.
Tian recommends international tourists visit the Ruoergai Grassland (若尔盖草原) in northwest Sichuan. It’s his favorite destination in China.
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‘Satisfy the strangest needs’
With a staff of 15 in its Beijing head office, Trekiz works with more than 200 local travel companies to provide tours and activities in 47 major cities in China, and an additional 20 cities overseas, mostly in Eastern Europe and northern Africa.
The company wants to list as many as 10,000 activities in three years’ time and expand its overseas services to South America, Switzerland and beyond.
When asked about Trekiz’s ultimate goal, Tian says: “A travel website that can satisfy the strangest travel needs from the strangest person.”