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Ask HN: Are we idiots for launching a travel newsletter?
14 points by JacobAldridge on Dec 10, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
We are thinking of launching a daily travel newsletter, hanging the elements you might expect (pictures, stories etc) around the hook that it is actually a realistic, endless holiday rather than disconnected information.

It fits squarely within pg's "broad but shallow" crater - ie, the opposite market demand shape from "nearly all good startup ideas".

As part of our market research we've put out a survey. If you're interested in travel, and can spare 10-15 minutes, all of the questions are at surveymonkey.com/s/TravelNewsletter

The key question that the HN audience may be better qualified to answer is #11 - "Are we idiots for launching a travel newsletter?" More tactfully, based on your experience, what traps can we avoid / opportunities can we embrace to support early traction.

Or hit us with your "middlebrow dismissal", we're grown-ups. (Despite the similarities, we're not related to hackertourism.com or peteford's current front page post.)

Background - this is being built by me and kerno, two Aussies who met in London while spending a few years travelling. My background is more business than coder, kerno is better balanced, and while I'm experienced with email newsletters and sales neither of us has specific travel industry background.

[Edit: We're about the drop off the New Page, and it doesn't look like we'll make the front page. So I wanted to say thanks for everyone who read this, whether you checked out the survey, left a comment, or not.]

I am a former mitary wife with an immigrant mother. Both those populations seem to travel a fair amount, but often very budget-minded. "Travel" of the vacation type tends to be a luxury item. Luxury items often fare poorly during recessions. Let me suggest you think on positioning this to be resilient in the face of that. One thing which does well during recessions is cheap, escapist entertainment. So perhaps try to appeal to not only actual tourist types but also people who want to imagine getting away. Pictures are likely your friend in that regard.

Wonderfully well articulated Mz, thanks. We had the realisation that most people only read travel newsletters when they're thinking of travelling - a problem for engagement rates.

Your description about "escapist entertainment" (rather than a pure travel guide) focuses the solution. Picture importance is also a good tip - not my forte, so kerno has been slowly explaining it to me!

This is a great angle. I can imagine a lot of people in cubicle land that would look forward to a daily escape. And then forward it to their friends. Or save the email to read when they actually go to Vienna.

If you're focused mostly on email, then make sure you have archived newsletters online. Good for SEO, another point of engagement, and conversion source.

Er, not so articulate. That should say "military wife" (just in case you couldn't figure it out and for some bizarre reason actually need to know).

Best of luck.

Hi, as a sign of support from somebody who is about to launch a travel website, I filled up your survey. You are not idiots for launching a newsletter, email marketing is still a big deal. But your question is like asking if you are an idiot for launching a website. You either execute something well or not.

Thanks Zalew, and good luck with Rootka.

thanks, good luck you too.

I happen to work at a company where more than 50% of our traffic comes from a daily newsletter. There are many niche newsletters that do quite well. DailyCandy, Thrillist, Groupon's newsletter all come to mind. There are also a lot of niche newsletters that do well and are not fast growing, VC funded etc. User acquisition and monetization are both very straight forward.

However, saying "I'm making a travel newsletter" is ridiculously broad. If you could elaborate a bit more on what you want to do, then I might be able to give more concrete advice than a handwaving "yes it's possible."

Thanks John. To elaborate (as far as we know at this point):

> Think a travel article that discusses how to spend a weekend visiting the Christmas Markets in Vienna

> We would have that as the sole newsletter content - ie, not one of a dozen stories in the newsletter

> It would also fit within a larger narrative - the previous day would end with a flight from Rome to Vienna; the next day starts with a flight from Vienna to Oman

> Where possible, we would tell the story of a local giving us the experience

> Links from the newsletter would come back to our website, but also onwards to more information about the destination or itinerary specifics (some affiliate links).

> Definitely not a daily deals type newsletter - there's a market for that, but we are content people

So user acquisition and monetization are the keys, as you point out. We have some early thoughts (social media, especially building reputations in travel forums, and SEO for the former; advertising, affiliate or most likely direct, for the latter). But launch early and learn has taken the place of "first research for months".

No. We launched a travel magazine. Travel is a pretty hot start-up spot right now and there is a lot of money to be had. Giving people good content and travel companies a great way to reach customers is a great idea.

Not at all, travel industry is huge. A newsletter is a great way to build customer funnels for other paying services. Good luck!

I'm also happy to answer any questions / explore thoughts about our process and business model, given those tend to be some of the more grounded concerns that get raised when people pitch an idea rather than their launch product.


And the constructive feedback begins. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4894990

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