Hope everybody had a wonderful holiday! It sure went by FAST! I coordinate a Turkey Trot 5K (which Teresa supported as a participant - and brought a cute team!) and then we gathered at mom and dad's for an amazing meal and some time around the fire.
We had some time to reflect on how the first ten days have gone and we are pleased! Fifty two people have fully registered and twenty five more have contacted us through the website! We will be getting in touch with them this week and continuing to explore how to gain traction so we can get to the goal of 500 registered women. We have received some great advice and insights from supporters!
One thing we need to do is increase traffic on our digital platforms:
Instagram - travelsistersnetwork
Facebook - Travel Sisters Network
See our YouTube channel
So please check them out, like, share, interact! Together, we can create real momentum for this concept so more women can get together and GO!
Just LOVING this feedback from friends far and wide today on the launch of our concept and website:
Q: "Love this! It's like Match for travel buddies?"
A: "Yup! But we match you to a whole circle of women; it's like you join a travel team!"
"Omg, this is absolutely amazing. I don't think I can actually express how amazing."
"Oh, I'm READY TO DO THE THINGS! Look forward to connecting - this is right up my alley!"
"Great idea! Your website looks terrific!"
And on and on! I think we are on to something and it gives me great hope! Twenty women took the profile generator and registered already today and eight more filled out the contact form on the website. I think a few more will settle in tonight and take the profile generator . . . exciting for a project that is so locally focused at the moment! I also had so many excited women reach out today to give ideas for how to market this idea. If teamwork makes the dream work - we're in great shape!
- Angie : )
Local Women Have a New Tool to Help Them Overcome Practical Barriers to Planning Travel
We know “friction” can stop an object in motion, and when it comes to women making travel plans, that principle is in full effect. Women might dream of seeing the world but get hung up on practical questions like “Who can go with me? Will we be compatible as travelers? Is it safe? What can I do within my budget?” Even married women with children might crave a trip where they get to prioritize their needs and preferences, but they struggle with how to make that dream a reality.
Angie Panel Scioli and Teresa Panel McCombs, sisters with deep ties to the RDU area and their family’s local travel agency, are on a mission to make sure women’s travel dreams enjoy smooth sailing from idea to implementation. Their inspiration was a 2013 trip to celebrate their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary: they invited friends and extended family to join them on a cruise and quickly realized that independent travelers would pay double for a single stateroom or run the risk of sharing tight quarters with an unsuitable roommate.
Angie noted that “neither of those options seemed attractive, so I started looking for practical solutions. I thought surely there would be a matching service of some sort, or a companion pool. A quick internet search for ‘female travel companion’ took me to some places I certainly did not want to go.”
Early efforts to develop web-based solutions led to dead ends as the sisters ran into technical and time limitations. Then, free tools like responsive Google forms became more available, the travel industry came to a standstill due to Covid, and Angie retired from full-time work as a public school teacher. A window of time and opportunity presented itself for the sisters to talk and problem solve.
Teresa recalls, “We decided to do a ‘proof of concept’ right here in the RDU market and use our resources and know-how to develop a simple process for finding like-minded local women ready for travel. We can scale up to other markets in time.” The sisters are affiliated with Travel Experts, a national network of over 400 independent travel consultants headquartered in Raleigh..
The travelsistersnetwork.com website lays out the rationale and process. Women take a simple survey to define their interests, budget, itinerary preferences, and lifestyle choices when they travel. They receive a unique code - one of 40 possible ones - that will help them identify the most suitable “travel sisters” for them. They can then take their code and join any of ten Travel Sister Circles that focus on different interests - food, art, nature and science, etc. They can participate in online platforms provided by the Travel Sister Network or create, declare, and moderate their own. When 500 women have registered, Angie and Teresa will plan a local event where Travel Sister Circles can meet in person and start choosing destinations and itineraries aligned with their Travel Sister Circle profiles.
Angie reflects, “ We think this is the perfect mix of online and face-to-face interaction that will allow women to have confidence they can travel safely and tailor the experience to their specific interests and preferences. We can’t wait for our motto of Girls, Get Together, GO! to become manifest. After the nightmare of the past 18 months, we all deserve a perfect vacation!”
Interested persons can monitor the progress of the Travel Sister Network by following the blog featured on the travelsistersnetwork.com website. Those who take the survey and register their results with the website will also get a newsletter and email correspondence about upcoming local events.
Thank goodness for Halloween candy leftovers! Lol. No, seriously, this project has been on our minds and hearts for a long time and it's time to get it out into the world. Doesn't have to be perfect to be and do good! And it will get better as we go and gain insights from our expanding Travel Sisters Network.
It's funny to look back at how the concept has evolved. In 2013, it seemed like a great idea to call it the Travel Spinstar Network?! Whaaaat was I thinking??? We contracted a group of my own students to help work on how to code an algorithmic based program for matching and in a matter of weeks we hit a wall.
That experience felt like a failure at the time but clearly it was for the best. We needed some time to develop a more viable brand, consider new processes using available technology, and really dig into the work. With my retirement from teaching this summer, we've been able to make steady progress on every aspect of the project. Now it's time to get our little of bundle of joy out into the world and let digital networks get it to "crawling"! Can you tell SOMEONE has spent a little too much time googling "search engine optimization strategies"? Lol.