Crowdfunded Travel?

The latest rage on Facebook is this website thats collecting email IDs for a beta test of what they claim will be a crowd-funded travel portal. A bunch of my friends have been sharing this link and ooh-ing over it. I, for one, just cannot understand why on God’s earth anybody would be willing to pay for someone else’s travel, even if it is an inspirational trip of a lifetime.

The argument that the same rationale that applies for crowdfunding a movie, or contributing on Wikipedia does not hold good, to my mind atleast. If I fund a part of a crowd-funded movie, I eventually get to watch the creative output and enjoy it. The same goes for Wikipedia, where I get to read on sujects I don’t know of (I don’t want to get into the depths of Wikipedia’s contribution mechanism because that will send me off on a whole other rant).

But if I fund a part of your travel, I get to be inspired by your, um photos? Given that research has shown that the biggest source of unhappiness out of Facebook is the envy caused by travel photos, does this mean that we are now paying to make ourselves unhappier? I am totally on board with the idea that someone should pay for my travel (hey, free vacation!), but do I really want to pay for someone else to see the Northern Lights (I’m picking this example cos a friend went recently and it was the most inspiring trip I’ve seen pictures of) and share a beautiful set of pictures, when all it does is remind me that I cannot go there right now because I’m stuck at school, or work or whatever? I don’t know, something here just doesn’t add up, for me.

I guess I’ll register and see how they take this product forward, and then decide whether or not I believe this behavioral intervention of sorts works.

PS – I discovered the reason for virality. The minute you give them your email ID to be a beta tester, they claim they will give you $50 toward your first trip if you get atleast 3 more people to join. This gets more and more interesting, given that you are essentially advocating an idea that gives you a delayed monetary benefit of sorts. Now the marketer in me is intrigued.

For those who don’t yet know this, I’m an info geek, who enjoys thinking about products, design and behavioral economics.

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