Lifestyle Podcast Post

Curated Travel with Samantha Patil

George Grombacher August 18, 2022

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Curated Travel with Samantha Patil

LifeBlood: We talked about curated travel experiences, the value of having a community of like-minded travelers to tap into, how to personalize your travel, and how to get started, with Samantha Patil, CoFounder and CEO of Well Traveled. 

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You can learn more about Samantha at, TikTok, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

sam 2

Samantha Patil

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
leopard This is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong, powerful Samantha Patil. Sam, are you ready to do this? Yes, let’s do it. All right, let’s go. Sam is the co founder and CEO of well traveled their membership social platform built for the modern traveler helping people to be more like a local and less like a tourist. Sam, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work, why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:41
Yeah, thank you so much for that. So I sound very American, but I was actually born and raised in England. So I spent a lot of time there, I moved when I was 10. And when your 10 kids are mean, and you have an accent, and they make fun of you, so I hated it. Got rid of it, really. Um, but yeah, I spent a lot of time traveling, just growing up, really, my mom was a travel agent when she was younger, and my dad traveled a lot for work. And I got that travel bug from a really young age and just have always found it fascinating connecting different cultures, meeting new people and the amount of growth that can take place, both you know, for yourself learning about your place in the world, but also how you tolerate risk, or you know, you there’s a lot of learning, I think that goes on internally when you travel too. So always really loved and appreciate that. With my career, I got the opportunity to travel a lot, working with different consumer brands, so I’d help different brands launch and grow their marketing operations overseas. So when I was traveling so much, I kind of realized like, hey, the travel tools out here aren’t the best, especially for like younger women traveling. So I knew I wanted to create something that was really filling that need and helping women be able to plan incredible trips and connect with other travelers like them.

Unknown Speaker 1:59
Nice. So you got rid of your English accent?

Unknown Speaker 2:09
How how do you even go about changing an accent to know it’s a weird call? Right? You So Much cooler with an accent now?

Unknown Speaker 2:17
Yeah, I don’t know. I think like when you’re a kid, and you know, you’re reading out loud and things like that, like and you say words funny, like you really hate it. And kids just you know, are like, cruel for no reason.

Unknown Speaker 2:29
So I just would actively practice and try to like get, like learn how people were saying words here, make sure I was trying to sit in the same way. But my younger sister went back to England for college, she still has her accent, my parents have their accents. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 2:45
That is a story of commitment right there. So respect and appreciate that much. So always fascinated by accents.

Unknown Speaker 2:53
So there’s so much cool stuff that I want to dig in. You said something that really piqued my interest, that a lot of travel tools are not designed for women. Tell me a little bit more about that.

Unknown Speaker 3:07
So when you look at the travel companies that exist in the world today, like the biggest ones in the world, pretty much anyone that you can name is founded by a man. With them, they all have mostly male leadership teams as well. So what’s interesting about that is when you look at who’s actually spending the money in travel, it’s women. So women are controlling the purchasing decisions there. And we also make up for almost 60% of all the leisure travelers. So there’s a bit of a discrepancy in terms of like having empathy for that consumer experience. It’s kind of like, and we’re not a travel, that’s very sorry, we’re not a brand and specifically for women. I’m sorry, that’s exclusively for women. But we are female founded. And we definitely built the product and the brand, the look and the field and some of the tools with that consumer in mind, because I felt like there weren’t really platforms out there. They weren’t really brands that were speaking directly to her.

Unknown Speaker 4:06
Got it. I appreciate that. So I spent a lot of time thinking about how important it is to be a good steward of our most valuable resources, time, tension money, and I was on your site this morning, and you talked about that as well. So I’d love to just hear your perspective on that.

Unknown Speaker 4:22
Yeah, I think one of our biggest Well, our platform is really built around community. And that’s kind of like the first like pillar that you’ll probably see that floating around the site a lot as well. It’s just, I think so much of travel is being social and connecting with other people. But in terms of like the time saving and money saving Yeah, I mean, I think we’re at this point now we’re where people they don’t they don’t they feel like they don’t have time they don’t have like all the money in the world to do the things they want to do. So we want to make sure that the things you do experience are awesome. And so I know for a lot of people it can be really frustrating to try and waste hours and hours like trying to find

Unknown Speaker 5:00
I like a great restaurant or a good hotel, and then be frustrated and disappointed once you get there. So we’re trying to infuse more personalization into that process. Add like a human element by making the platform more about people. And just make it easier and honestly more fun for people to find. Find nice places to go and things to do. Yeah. I think that certainly probably everybody who’s listening, myself included, has had some negative experience of wanting to go out to eat and wasted a bunch of time and then going to a restaurant that turns out to be a crappy choice. So I appreciate that,

Unknown Speaker 5:37
too, as you were,

Unknown Speaker 5:39
the idea for well traveled is is is taking shape years and years ago, and you’re putting it together.

Unknown Speaker 5:48
What is it about it’s it’s it’s it’s the community sharing? It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the journaling, tell me how it all kind of came together.

Unknown Speaker 5:58
So when you look at a lot of the other platforms that are out there today, and I will say like, there are a lot of people that have tried to solve the Yelp problem, right, because I think everyone can sort of empathize with like, that’s not really working anymore, like everyone tends I have yet to meet someone. Well, actually, I mean, there’s definitely people that are like Yelp Yelpers, like lifelong Yelpers, and they love it. But same with kind of like TripAdvisor, right, like, most people are feeling frustrated by those platforms, because they were designed 20 years ago, they haven’t really had a lot of innovation since and yet the way that we travel, like everything about that process, and that experience from the discovery to the planning to the booking has completely changed. So when we were thinking about how we wanted to build it, and how we wanted to approach this, I knew I wanted it to be membership based. And I knew I wanted to build a brand from day one. And so really focused on creating a brand that people could see themselves reflected in. And that that was done with some intentionality around the color choices that we made. And yes, it’s like, you know, the typeface and the look and the feel of the site, but also the ease of use the fact that it was designed to be a social platform, the types of content we’re putting on the site, the things that you can search for and filter by. So like, you can filter by women owned restaurant, like, you know, traveling with kids like pet friendly, like female solo traveler, like all these things that are much more important to people, especially younger travelers that just aren’t really showing up for them on a lot of these other sites.

Unknown Speaker 7:35
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.

Unknown Speaker 7:41
So the membership based I, I can see, I would never go on Yelp anymore, I think it’s just my personal kind of opinion. And just just just reviews, I think we’ve all sort of become wise to the fact that there’s so much manipulation, and it’s kind of been gamified, almost. So the membership gets around that for voids. Exactly. So in a way we curate the members, and then those members curate the content. And then as an individual, I’m able to connect with other people that I feel like I share interests with or have similar tastes. And then we also help personalize some of that content for you. Because I think part of the frustration with Yelp for people is we’re so accustomed to personalization. Now, like if you look at your Instagram feed or your Netflix feed, even Amazon is trying to personalize recommendations for you.

Unknown Speaker 8:39
Yelp, TripAdvisor aren’t really trying to do that at all. If we go to if we were to go and search for restaurants in LA, you and I would see the exact same list of like top 10 restaurants, despite all of you know, are likely differences in personal preference are like what you want in that moment. So

Unknown Speaker 8:58
I think that’s the one of the bigger pain points for people is it just feels so sterile and sort of like irrelevant. And that’s because there is like, a real lack of curating information like for people based on kind of their interests graph and their social graph. Yeah, I think that that makes a ton of sense. As as you’ve been, like, the site’s been around for three, four or five years or so. Now, we’re babies were like, a little over a year old. We had like a private beta in 2020. And then we really just launched like 14 or so months ago. Okay, cool. What’s what’s what’s been surprising?

Unknown Speaker 9:42
I do have a great answer. But the most surprising thing for me about this was how much people want to share their favorite places with other people. So I had an example of this yesterday. It’s like it’s tech week in LA there’s a lot of people in town and I was chatting with someone

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Choose the first time here, and she was trying to figure out where to go to dinner. And I was so excited to tell her, you know, some of my favorite places, I was obviously showing her world travel.

Unknown Speaker 10:10
And we’re sitting there, we’re talking about it. And it’s like, people love to talk about the things that they love and share those things with other people. That’s like, Be human, right? So when you think about the way that we kind of architected this site, if anything’s on this site, it’s because somebody wants it to be there. So with a platform like Yelp, you’re really just, it’s like, here are all the businesses that exist in the world, like come have an opinion on them. Whereas with our site, it’s like, well, these are all the things that people are recommending in the world right now, like, here are the things that people love. And sure, like, it’s not going to be a fit for everyone. Like, I don’t eat meat. So I’m not going to be I’m not going to love a steak house, right? And that’s obviously okay, because we’re all individuals. But

Unknown Speaker 10:52
I think just the idea of reframing reviews and turning it into, okay, I’m not necessarily coming to complain about something or just share an opinion. I’m coming to share some of my favorite things that I’ve done places I’ve been with other people that I think are really good. Love those, excuse me those places as well. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 11:13
Well, certainly, when when you say that it makes all the sense in the world, because we do all have favorites and preferences and and when we do find something we love, then then then we definitely want to share it.

Unknown Speaker 11:26
How did how you, you have the idea, and you want to create this wonderful community where people are sharing and doing that. And you need like, like a minimum viable product, where there’s stuff on the site? So how did you sort of balance those two things? You want to launch it, but you need content? Yes, I didn’t sleep for a while.

Unknown Speaker 11:51
I mean, we just we leaned into our network, I think, I think it’s really easy to feel like overwhelmed, especially in the startup life where you’re trying to build something or create some kind of zero. But I’ve found like, typically, like when you just take some kind of action and start moving towards those goals, things start to just kind of like, not like magically falling into place, but you sort of create your own momentum, right. So we were like, well, we don’t know what to do, but let’s just talk to a bunch of people find out, you know, places they’ve gone recently, and just get them to help us add content, we did a ton of research. So again, you know, on the time savings part, like we wanted to help that a lot of these places so that people didn’t have to, and we started small, I think we launched the site with like, you know, 10 cities around the world. And now we have like 70 something.

Unknown Speaker 12:41
And a lot of that content is now really contributed from the members themselves.

Unknown Speaker 12:46
And it’s funny, right? Like a lot, we do a lot of member interviews, it’s like one of my favorite things about my job was getting to talk to people that use our product, or members of our platform. And it’s like, the reason that they love to share here is because they do feel like because they’re part of this membership, because they’re a part of this community that people on the receiving end of it, are really going to appreciate what they’re sharing. And they feel like there’s this like, give get within the community they give and they’re gonna get something out of it, as well. Love it. So when somebody becomes a member,

Unknown Speaker 13:21
how are people interacting with the site to they say, I have no idea where where I want to go, and I’m going to come get ideas, or they say, I really want to go to Spain, and I want to go from there.

Unknown Speaker 13:37
It’s a mix of both, I will say generally people typically aren’t coming in, excuse me, typically aren’t coming in,

Unknown Speaker 13:45
necessarily, because they have a specific trip booked. It definitely happens. But a lot of times, they’re like, I love travel, I want to travel more like I’ve you know, I’ve gone to these places and looking for inspiration. And that was kind of like one of the biggest kind of unlocking moments for me was people really want to feel like inspired. And I’ve never felt particularly inspired on TripAdvisor. So you’re kind of like, we’re really catching people a lot earlier, when they’re just like looking to like browse content and connect with other people that like that content. So it’s kind of you know, in the same way that you have, like beauty bloggers and fitness bloggers, actually fitness

Unknown Speaker 14:26
has done an incredible job of this. So if you think about people that do Barry’s classes me I love Barry’s when people that do SoulCycle or CrossFit, those are people that want to consume that kind of content, talk to other people that love that content, regardless of if they’re going to a class or not, or if they have an injury or like whatever it might be. And I think that’s because you’re really speaking to people on a slightly deeper level. So we’re not necessarily asking people like, Hey, do you have a trip planned right now that you’re trying to plan for? We’re saying Are you the kind of person

Unknown Speaker 15:00
person that loves travel that likes to explore new places that wants to meet new people that wants to enjoy, like local food. Like, if that sounds like you, then we built we built this for you. I love it.

Unknown Speaker 15:15
So somebody is interested, how does how does the membership process work? It’s pretty straightforward. It’s really, you know, it’s designed to be more inclusive than it is exclusive. But like, the idea is you apply for the platform, you answer a couple questions for us. And it’s pretty easy to tell if someone’s going to be a fit for the community or not. So we asked about a recent trip you went on, and we asked you about why you want to join the Club.

Unknown Speaker 15:42
We also asked people to provide some kind of like, social handle LinkedIn websites, and we know you’re a real person, that’s really important.

Unknown Speaker 15:50
And then everyone, when you come in and you get approved, we approved, you know, like 90 something percent of people.

Unknown Speaker 15:57
And a lot of that, because we are actively like targeting the people that we really want to speak to. But truly, I mean, if you were to say like, Okay, well, I’m really looking for, like, you know, discount or budget, you know, hotels or things like that, this probably isn’t the site for you. Because things are less geared around price, specifically and more just around the experience. So the kind of traveler that typically loves our site is someone who’s sort of graduated from being a budget traveler, but they’re not a luxury traveler, right, like, and that’s typically how travel has been organized through either budget or your luxury. But I never felt like I fit into those boxes. You know, sometimes I was going to a friend’s wedding and didn’t really want to spend a bunch of money on the hotel. But other times, I’m like, you know, it’s my anniversary, and I want to go out to a nice meal. So I think you’re starting to see that more and more. And even, you know, companies like Airbnb, they actually reorganize their whole search experience to be around experience driven travel versus always starting with like that price point or that location.

Unknown Speaker 17:02
Makes sense? A little bit.

Unknown Speaker 17:04
Well, Sam, people ready for that difference making tip? What do you have them? Yeah, so this is one of my favorite. I have a few little mantras that I like to live by. But I have struggled with being a perfectionist.

Unknown Speaker 17:17
And I think something that I heard a long time ago was Don’t let perfect get in the way of progress. So something is better to get it done than never get it done at all right? So I think a lot of times people if they have these ideas, or they want to start a company or a small business or a new hobby, and you can feel overwhelmed, like and you want to get it really right just like take some action, like do something. And like don’t feel overwhelmed by this burden of like, I want to get it right. I want to get it perfect. Nobody cares. Like just get out there and do it anyway. Right.

Unknown Speaker 17:50
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets caught. Sam, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you and how can they engage with well traveled

Unknown Speaker 18:00
so you can find us? Well traveled We are on Instagram at World Travel Club. We’re also on Tik Tok making ridiculous videos goofy videos like everybody else that while travel club. Excellent. If you enjoy this as much as I did, so send me appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to well traveled and check out the beautiful website that Sam and the team have built and then find him on Instagram and Tiktok as well. Thanks again, Sam. Thank you, and until next time, fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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