Tag Archives: car travel

Where We’re Headed with Cost2Drive

Helping People Plan Better Car Trips

2011 has shaped up to be an exciting year for us at C2G.  We began the year with a great deal of TV coverage coinciding with the spike in gas prices.

TV Coverage of Cost2Drive.com

Then in late spring we decided to apply to the NYC TechStars incubator program and spent a few thrilling weeks heading to New York to interface with the TeschStars team and fellow entrepreneurs.   It was a wonderful experience and though we didn’t make the final cut, we all felt great about making it to the round of 30 out over 1,000 applicants.  We always felt we had something special and its seems the world is beginning to take notice.

As part of the TechStars application process we began to share our broader vision of where we are going with our flagship application Cost2Drive.  We introduced a new company name (CarTripper) which better reflects our mission of helping people plan better car trips.   We’ll be sharing more on this in the coming months, but you can get a glimpse of this new vision as part of a new competition we’re involved with on Bloomberg TV.   Bloomberg TV is working with TechStars on a number of initiatives including an upcoming TV series that chronicles the 11 startups accepted into the NYC winter program.

They are also hosting a contest on Facebook for the best startup ideas, which is where we come in.  We were just notified by Bloomberg that we’ve been selected as one of five finalists for this week’s competition (week #2).  At the end of the week (seven days from August 10th) the winner will be selected for Week #2 and will then move on to the next round to compete with all the weekly winners.

You can get a glimpse of our expanded vision for CarTripper by viewing the video we submitted to TechStars as part of the application process.  The video is available on the Bloomberg TV Facebook page in this special section created for TechStars (note: you’ll need to ‘like’ the page to be able to view the video and vote).

We have some exciting product releases right around the bend that we’ll be sharing more news on soon.  Meanwhile if you like where we’re headed with CarTripper let us know by voting for us in this Bloomberg TV – TechStars startup competition.

Happy Driving!

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6ABC Philadelphia TV Segment featuring Cost2Drive.com

Are High Gas Prices Impacting Spring Travel?

We Take a Look at Data from Cost2Drive for Clues

With gas prices skyrocketing over the past few months its all but certain that they’re weighing heavily on travelers’ minds, and so we decided to take a look at some data from Cost2Drive.com to see if we could discern any clues to how high gas prices are impacting spring travel.

Unique Visitors to Cost2Drive.comIf we look at the overall visitors to Cost2Drive from March 1 through April 15 we see that the number of visitors has more than doubled from the previous year.  No doubt this is due to a combination of high gas prices and a still-struggling economy that is compelling travelers to seek out these  types of trip planning tools.

The good news is it doesn’t appear that people have lost interest in traveling for spring break as 19.2% of the 62,000 searches on Cost2Drive during this period were for spring break destinations compared with 18.6% in the previous year.

When we take a look at destinations travelers are searching for in advance of spring break its not surprising that locations in Florida dominate the list.  In fact 37% of all searches  on Cost2Drive during this period had somewhere in Florida as the destination, with Chicago to Orlando being the most popular route.  The average trip length entered was 866 miles (one way) which indicates Cost2Drive is attracting a disproportionate share of long-distance car travelers.

Looking at the specific destinations we see that Orlando, Fl was the clear leader when measured against all spring break destinations, capturing 40% of those searches.  There were over 4,500 searches for Orlando (including over 300 searches for Disney World) which represented nearly 8% of all searches on Cost2Drive during this period.  This means that one out of every 12 1/2 searches had Orlando or Kissimmee as the destination.

Top Spring Break Destinations as searched on costtodrive.com

Share of Spring Break Destination searches on Cost2Drive.com Mar 1-Apr 15

Las Vegas was the second most popular spring break destination searched on Cost2Drive with 12% of searches, followed by Miami/Fort Lauderdale with 11%.  The Florida panhandle, which includes Panama City, Pensacola and Destin, came in fourth with 9% share of all spring break destination searches.

When comparing the percentage of searches year-over-year we see some interesting patterns emerge.

For example, the largest increase in share was for Hilton Head, SC, the second  northernmost destination on the list behind Myrtle Beach.  Their share of searches for spring break destinations increased from .7% to 1.4% (+77%).  Meanwhile the largest decrease in share was for Key West, Fl, the southernmost destination on the list, who’s share decreased from 3.2% to 2.1% (-33%).  From this data one might infer that high gas prices are leading people to seek spring break destinations that are closer to home, which sounds like a logical assumption.  This would also be supported by the increase of search share for Myrtle Beach (+15%) and the Florida Panhandle (+26%).

However anomalies still exist, as Naples and Fort Myers’ search share grew 19% while the share for their neighbors to the north in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area declined 16%.  Also the decrease in share for two West Coast destinations,  Disneyland (-27%) and Las Vegas (-17%), might be attributed to the fact that many of the key feeder markets for these destinations are in California, which has the highest gas prices in the continental US.

Its always risky to draw conclusions on single data points, and cause and effect can be tricky to measure, but there do seem to be some trends emerging around shorter trips due to high gas prices.  The good news is, it doesn’t appear that people have stopped traveling…at least not yet.

One thing is for sure however, people are becoming increasingly interested in trip planning tools like Cost2Drive to help them better plan their car trips.

What are you observations?  Feel free to share them below.

Happy Driving!

Route-Based Targeting; The New Frontier?

My route Obsession

Several years ago as I was planning a car trip for me, my wife and teenage son from Washington, DC to Sarasota, FL, I faced the all-too-common challenge of trying to figure out where to stop along the route.  Using Google maps I plotted out the route and then eye-balled some of the likely stopover points based on  the larger names that appeared on the map. Hmmm, Savannah, GA always sounded like a neat place to visit, lets make that one of the stops.  None of the other names incited any interest and so it took a good bit of research to finally settle on St. Augustine, Florida for our other stopover.  We’d stop at St. Augustine on the way down and Savannah on the return trip to DC.

I remember thinking that this was a rather inefficient way to plan a trip, and that there must be many great cities to visit and sites and attractions to  see along this route (besides of course South of the Border).

The problem then occurred to me;  driving directions have blinders on.  They don’t illuminate all the great possibilities along a route. Even though some sites like AAA TripTiks and MapQuest are attempting to solve this problem,  they have no sensitivity to distance so they serve up the same information whether you’re traveling 2 miles or 2,000.  This has implications on many fronts, and so it seemed like a very worthwhile problem to solve.  Thus began what I now refer to as my route obsession.

When you look at our flagship site Cost2Drive.com, you’ll see evidence of this type of thinking.  For example, when a user enters a route we surface the cheapest flight found on Kayak for that route, but only if its over 200 miles in distance (it’s distance-sensitive).  We also view routes not as simple origin-destination pairs (a very flight-centric view of the world) but as a corridor with many wonderful things to see and do in between.  For example, we plot out the refueling points along the way, not only to identify the cheapest gas prices at those points, but as a visual cue to users of where they’ll likely need to stop.  The trip-planning process logically unfolds from there.

This is all enabled by the Galculator, our route-aware technology that powers all of the C2G applications.  With hundreds of startups focusing on location-based targeting, we see a vast new frontier emerging in a related field, one that we call route-based targeting.  We feel we’ve only scratched the surface on this exciting opportunity, and as the peak summer travel season approaches you’ll see some more examples of how we’re feverishly working to remove the blinders from driving directions, both for travelers and advertisers alike.

Happy Driving!