Hello Sebastian, can you tell some information about you and the Tripwolf team?

I am originally from Vienna, Austria, but I have been living in New York for 2 years. I’m 30 years old and a passionate traveler: I have visited 70 countries. For the last few years I worked as a journalist and international correspondent for Austrian and German print magazines, covering stories like the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, the youth scene in Teheran, the hunt for war criminal General Mladic in Serbia or the working conditions in Brazil’s sugar industry.

I am running the company together with my best friend Alexander Trieb who is based in Manhattan. He has lots of start-up experience, both from the US and Europe and he worked in IT and management consulting before we started tripwolf.

At the moment the tripwolf team consists of 10 – 12 people, based in New York, Vienna, Budapest and San Francisco.

Can you tell us when did the Tripwolf project started?

The project was started in early summer last year – exactly one year ago.

If it’s not a secret, can you disclose the budget for the entire project?

I would prefer not to disclose the funding. We will announce one investor soon, and we are looking for a further round of investment.

Any story regarding the name of the site? Was it just a flash or did something else inspired you?

The wolf has a few associations that we like: wolves are social animals which reflects the community aspect. but there is also the association with individual travel -the “lonely wolf” that travels over long distances. (apart from that the name is easily understandable also for non-english speakers.)

What are your goals with Tripwolf?

Our vision is to become the leading European web 2.0 travel guide, both for tourist going INTO Europe as well as those going OUT OF Europe. We are focusing on German and English speaking markets first. We will also launch versions in Spanish and later in French and Italian (we have a lot of content in these languages already).

Can you tell more about the features that distinguish Tripwolf from the rest of travel social networks?

What makes tripwolf really unique is the integration with exisiting social networks – which makes it really easy for users to join and to get benefits like personal travel recommendations. You can import your Facebook profile and your Facebook friends, and after public launch you will also be able to log in with your Facebook account. The integration of other social networks will follow. The idea behind it: People won’t go to a travel website every day, but it should be easy for them to reach it through the sites they use a lot.

How do you see the travel industry in five years?

I think the dominant thing in five years will be time travel. no, just kidding…
Honestly, I think the trend to social networking is here to stay, especially in travel. People don’t have much holidays, and travel is expensive, so people want really good recommendations because they don’t want to be disappointed. And surveys show that more than. 70% of people get information from friends & family before they decide where they travel. that’s somehting that we reflect on tripwolf: you don’t get recommendations from a mass of users you don’t know (or from one travel guide book writer, for that matter), but from your own trusted sources.
I think online travel agents (from expedia downwards) will have a very tough time over the next few years. It’s hard for them to build up a credible and trusted community, and they can only compete over price. At the same time, customized, tailored offers for individual travelers will become more important.

What are your tastes for:

Travel destination
Wherever I haven’t been yet. Next stops on my wishlist: Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Laos

Hotels
Anything goes as long as it’s clean (no cockroaches!) and the mattresses aren’t too soft.

What’s the weirdest thing that happened to you on a trip?

wow, I could fill books with that. one particularly interesting experience was nearly getting killed by 20,000 rock fans at a concert in Mexico City. For some reason they didn’t like me – weird crowd dynamics.

This is the first interview on journeyetc and more are likely to appear soon, if you have any suggestions for persons I can take an interview from or questions I can ask, please use the email from the contact page.

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