Tripifini is a new platform in the world of online travel, connecting travelers with local operators.
Curious about how a company ever came up with this unusual three-syllable name? Examining its origins also makes it easier to pronounce:
Trip+ Epiphany = Trip-if-ini
Broadly, Tripifini’s mission is to eliminate the hassles entailed in researching, planning and booking meaningful trips by matching travelers with experienced, local operators who can design bespoke itineraries.
The founder of the company, Asheesh Malaney, started a luxury travel company called Natural Mystic that he has been running for the last 20 years but saw an opportunity to build a platform to connect travelers to local operators, removing the (sometimes costly) middleman layer of tour companies and travel agents.
So he and some friends and fellow travel enthusiasts spent almost four years cultivating relationships with local tour operators around the world, and built a platform featuring best-in-class operators in more than 60 countries.
Mike Gerrity, CEO based in San Francisco, went to college with Asheesh and had traveled with him many years ago. Mike, a serial entrepreneur, signed on to run the company and introduce it to the American market (The site has only been live since this past November).
MoreTimeToTravel was delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about this new resource for the over-50 traveler.
Q. What distinguishes Tripifini from other online travel agencies and from traditional brick and mortar ones? What “gaps” do you hope to fill in the travel sphere?
There is tremendous interest and growth in “experiential” travel, where travelers focus on experiencing a country, city or particular place by connecting to its history, people and culture. But there’s no easy way to find someone to help travelers make that happen; in fact, the best experiential travel is often elusive and reliant on lucky breaks, weeks of exhausting research, and expensive travel consultants.
Tripifini’s mission is to flip that paradigm, so that you can discover, book, and experience the best trips in the world without draining your time, energy, or bank account.
Tripifini is all about connecting travelers directly to great people on the ground, local experts to provide you with insider access and unique local experiences.
Q. From the perspective of the traveler, can you briefly explain how Tripifini works? Let’s assume a couple wants to plan a getaway to celebrate a milestone occasion. How would they begin planning/researching a trip using the website? What is the purpose of the online profile form?
A traveler can visit Tripifini.com and browse for ideas on where to go and what to do – local operators have submitted hundreds of sample itineraries to the site that are searchable by destination, activity, and price range.
The site also features Destinations where travelers can learn about “bucket list” highlights at a particular destination and create their own custom itineraries.
If travelers already have a pretty good sense of where they want to go, and generally what they want to do, they can fill out a Plan My Trip form, providing some details of their interests. They submit the form and Tripifini matches them with a local operator to provide a custom itinerary and quote. Travelers can then further refine the itinerary with the operator until they have the perfect trip planned, and then can book the trip. Booking is done securely through the Tripifini platform.
The entire custom quote and refinement process is free.
Q. Does Tripifini specialize in certain geographic areas or certain types of travel?
Tripifini offers custom trips in more than 60 countries around the world and can pretty much accommodate all kinds of personalized travel requests, from food and culture tours in France or India, chartering sailboats in Australia or Turkey, trekking in Nepal, safaris in Africa, Northern Lights in Iceland…There is something for everyone on Tripifini.
Perhaps it is easier to tell you what we don’t have: Tripifini does not offer group tours, fixed dates, or packaged vacations. We don’t have cruises or all-inclusive resorts on the site.
Q. What help is available to guide the consumer through the trip planning process? (With whom and how does the traveler communicate?)
Travelers work directly with a Tripifini team member and then with the local operator.
The Tripifini team member makes sure the communication and planning runs smoothly with the operator, and the itinerary planning is progressing to the traveler’s satisfaction. If for some reason the local operator is not what the traveler is looking for, then a Tripifini service representative will match them with someone new.
Q. Since so much of your service is individualized, catering to bespoke travel, when and how does the traveler receive a specific pricing proposal?
The traveler will receive a custom itinerary direct from the operator that will include hotel, transportation, and activities booked in consultation with the traveler. Airfare is usually not included.
Q. Explain the relationships between Tripifini and local tour operators? How are local operators identified, screened and trained? What role do the operators play in creating an enhanced travel experience?
Tripifini connects travelers to the actual provider of the experience on the ground – not a travel agent or a reseller.
We handpick the leading specialty operators in each country so travelers are guaranteed a travel partner who can provide an insider experience and the highest level of customer service. Many of our operators are award-winning travel experts; all have at least five years experience (more likely ten), and have been recognized by leading travel publications like Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, National Geographic, etc.
Key selection criteria for operators include: industry reputation, experience, a stellar track record for customer service and safety, and feedback from our own customers.
Q. The growing prominence of the sharing economy and the “peer-to-peer” marketplace (in everything from accommodations to tour guides to transportation) has changed the face of travel, in many cases eliminating the middleman. By eliminating the middleman, what cost savings can Tripifini offer clients?
Tripifini has eliminated the middleman by taking out the reseller or the travel agent, and connecting travelers directly to operators. But otherwise it would be hard to lump Tripifini in with the “peer-to-peer” business model, since what we do is so individual and customized.
As a new site we don’t have exact data on the cost savings, but we estimate it can be anywhere from 15% to 50% cost savings, depending on the outfitter.
Q. What protections are built in to protect travelers who may be wary of changing economic and geopolitical conditions across the globe?
In some cases a Tripifini service representative might point out if there is an issue in a particular destination (such as unrest or out-of-season travel) and perhaps suggest an alternative. And we are constantly in touch with our operators who keep us informed about what’s going on in their regions.
Of course we encourage all of our customers to purchase travel insurance. We do have a standard booking and cancellation policy applicable for most trips. A booking is considered confirmed on 100% payment only.
If a cancellation is made: 90 days or more prior to the departure date, 75% of the amount is refunded; 45 days to 89 days prior to the departure date, 50% of the total is refunded; and under 45 days of the departure date, there is no refund.
Q. Is there a system in place for review and feedback, both to the company and for future users?
Yes! We encourage all of our customers to fill out a brief survey when they return from their trip, and our service representatives are available and reachable by email for feedback.
Interested in learning more about Tripifini!
- Browse the Tripifini website for customizable Trip Ideas.
- Fill out a trip Request Form or use the Contact Us Form on the website.
- More questions? Email Tripifini at [email protected].
*All photos courtesy of Tripifini.
Disclosure: This interview is a sponsored post prepared by More Time To Travel in collaboration with Tripifini.