Australian develops new app to connect solo travellers

An Australian adventurer has developed a new app, set to solve the problems of people travelling solo, and he's got the backing of the world's biggest social network.

An Australian adventurer has developed a new app, set to solve the problems of people travelling solo.

And he's got the backing of the world's biggest social network.

"I'm actually surprised nothing like this has existed before, it's fantastic."

It does exactly what the name suggests.

Connects solo travellers around the world to a social network of other solo travellers.

Elizabeth Loban is one of them.

The American now calls Sydney home, and travels a lot for work and play.

The 36-year-old is often on her own, and is using the Solo Traveller app to find travel buddies - world-wide.

"I'm actually surprised nothing like this has existed before, it's fantastic," Elizabeth said.

"I like it because I like to do trips, but I don't necessarily like to be by myself the whole time. So it's kind of the best of both worlds, where I can go when I want where I want, but if I want to share a ride to some place out in the middle of nowhere for a drink, I can easily log on and find other people."

Founder Troy Elmes came up with the idea for Solo Traveller while walking Spain's Camino trail - on his own.

"I noticed there were a lot of other solo travellers out there travelling alone," Troy said.

"I thought wouldn't it be great if there was a way of connecting these solo travellers instantly."

The free app lets you start a conversation with other travellers, isolates locations, interests and helps with local tips.

"Travelling throughout Spain, I was looking for apps like that, you can meet people in hostels, especially when you're 18, 19, 20, but being a little bit older I found it was difficult," Troy said.

"If you're not in a hostel how do you actually meet people? So I was looking for apps and I could not find any that would do that."

Information and technology commentator Trevor Long thinks the online tool has potential.

"I think it's a great idea. There's a lot of travel apps out there, there's a lot of recommendations for families and people travelling, but once you are actually on the ground in another location and you're on your own, then there's not a lot of help and support for you as an individual so it has every chance of success," Trevor said.

Now US-based, Troy took a break from his 12-year advertising career to get the app up-and-running with his developer.

"We're a little bit of Trip Advisor, but also Expedia with hotels and so forth trying to find the best of the best, and we also throw LinkedIn in there as well because you've got that knowledge of that local person," Troy said.

It was a solid 18 months til launch-ready date; Troy thought it would take only six to 12 months.

Although Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spruiks innovation and venture capital in Australia, the app market is a tough one to crack.

"It's easy to build an app, but it's very hard to launch an app because you need a lot of momentum you need a lot of people downloading the app," Trevor Long said.

"You need a lot of conversation about the app, especially online and in the app store so that people who are using are recommending it to others, because really the old word of mouth exists very much so in the modern age."

Trevor Long is a startup supporter and believes more government backing is needed.

"It's really not until you've got a large customer base a large user base in the hundreds of thousands, where you can start to commercialise by looking at clipping the ticket along, bookings that they make or advertising within the app, that's when you start to make money."

Troy is experiencing double digit growth week on week, but went to the world's biggest social network for help.

"With that comes $30,000 worth of development tools behind the scenes and a direct connection now with Facebook. So any help we need they're there," Troy said.

More than 50 per cent of Australian use Facebook every month, so it's potentially a very lucrative partnership for Troy.

Facebook and email connection also means the app has added security measures..

"So you have to have validated Facebook profile to sign up with us," Troy said.

"Other measures include within the messaging of Solo Traveller, you can report abuse if someone starts to say a few things that aren't quite right you can hit that button, that will report abuse instantly to us as the administrators and then we can filter that information and if something's not right then that user will be cut off, their account will be closed."

Elizabeth Loban said she feels safe with the app.

"You still do have to be cautious as a woman," Elizabeth said.

"I think too travelling when you're older, I'm not staying in backpackers anymore so it's not as easy to meet people so it gives me that method of finding people that want to share those adventures."


Source: SBS