Tourism networking portal TravelMassive – with membership of up to 20,000 across 70 chapters – has shifted to a new tech platform and is looking to secure up to USD250,000 this year to fund further consolidation and expansion.
Founder Ian Cumming has already spent USD150,000 of his own coin on the project and recently secured “enough to keep us going for 12 months” from Stephan Ekbergh, the founder of South African OTA TravelStart.
At present “we’re closing a small angel round to expand the team,” he added.
Cumming owns 55% of Travel Massive, unnamed investors 33% while the remaining 12% is held by ‘advisors and founders’.
Travel Massive has taken on a life of its own since it started with a small gathering over a six pack of beer on the rooftop of the YHA Hostel in Sydney Harbour in 2010.
“We met to talk about travel, and these events quickly grew in size each month as more people found out about our meetings that were often hidden in backpacker bars,” says Cumming
He says the meetings are based on three principles:
- to be open to all the travel industry,
- to be free to attend,
- to encourage people to connect and share globally.
“These founding principles started the first chapters of Travel Massive in Toronto, London and San Francisco and created the beginnings of our global network in early 2011.”
Right now he said the focus is on rolling out the new Travel Massive platform, its first, with gatherings previously organised in somewhat ad hoc fsahion through sites such Meetup.com.
“Based on membership data across our 70 chapters globally, we estimate our membership base is between 15,000 and 20,000 members,” Cumming says.
“Our new community platform will provide us with centralised membership for all our chapters, so we’re busy migrating across to it.
“We’ll know the numbers in six months once we’ve captured all the information.”
In terms of the revenue model, Cumming said: “We’re looking at a few options including global sponsorship, business membership, and partnerships with travel and tourism associations to connect with our members.”
One feature of Travel Massive is that there are a lot of people involved, not just members who turn up to the occasional get together, but also 6 staff, 6 advisors, 6 ambassadors, 14 members of its global council 120+ chapter leaders.
Democracy or bureaucracy – how do decisions get made?
“Last year involved a lot consulting with everyone and I put together our public plan at www.travelmassive.org,” Cumming said.
“Now we have a clear direction of where we’re heading, so for those involved it’s a case of implementing what we said we’d do.
“It’s less about decision making now and more about implementing our plan.”
And the ultimate vision?
“To unearth and connect the world’s travel industry to make travel better.”