The date slipped by unnoticed– my wife had to remind me that it’s been just over a year now since TCE went live. A year of surprises and disappointments, of slow but steady growth, and some very rewarding interactions with TCE members.
I haven’t posted anything on my blog recently, because hardly any members are making use of the feature, and I didn’t want all the posts to be from me. Truth be told, the blog is only one of several features that a lot of time and money went into the development of, which are being basically ignored by users.
So it has been a year of learning for me– learning how users actually interact with the site, learning what needs to be fixed in the features they do use, learning what other features might serve their needs better. After nearly bankrupting myself getting the site up in the first place, I haven’t been able to do much more than fix the really serious issues, but slowly I am getting to the point where I’ll be able to introduce some real improvements.
And, hopefully, begin to earn some money back from the site. After having to abandon the idea of only paid memberships, it has been a bit of a puzzle how I am going to make any revenue from my investment. One of the first things coming on stream will be a travel book store. That had been part of the original plan, just deferred, but I have now moved that up to active development and we should be seeing it go live in a few weeks.
Numerous previous Travel Chums members have asked for a bulletin board like TC had, and though our efforts to reproduce that have failed so far, we are going to put another push on that to see if a solution can be found. Larger profile photos is another frequently-requested feature which will make an appearance soon. We will be working on a long list of other improvements as well.
Through it all, I have so much appreciated the helpful feedback and kind messages from members who have been making use of the site. Many of you have been successful in finding compatible travel partners, for one-time or ongoing travel, and that makes me happy. Enjoy your travels!
Am looking for a femal companion to avoid single costs to take either a Russian river cruise on May 12th or do a Germany and/or Greece tour in May. Like escorted tours as I find everyone is in Europe now and the tour guides get you by the lines and give you a great deal of information. Have been using Gate1Travel and find their prices the best and the tours good and interesting.
Anyone interested in joining me on my travels as I'm open to other parts of the world too contact me.
I am spending a month in New Zealand from early February to early March 2014 and looking for a female traveling companion. I would like to either rent a shared campervan or car and spend most of the time driving and hiking, with some time in larger cities, especially Auckland.
I'm flexible, easy going, fun to travel with (I'm told). Let me know if you're interested
Yesterday a TCE member asked me-- complained a bit-- about why the member profile contains information about height and weight. "I'm just looking for a travel companion," she said. Fair enough.
When Jens Jurgen, the founder of the original Travel Companion Exchange, began his service in 1982, his main purpose was to help singles avoid the hated single supplement. He was rather surprised to discover that over 70% of his members were either specifically looking for a companion of the opposite sex, or were willing to accept one. Over the 20 years his service was in operation, he found that TCE was serving as a matchmaker in a large proportion of cases, and he constantly received news of marriages and permanent partnerships that resulted from people connecting through TCE.
In setting up this successor website, I had to take into account not only the new realities of the Internet, but the eternal realities of romance. Many single people have a hankering to find that someone special. And travelling together is a good way to test compatibility. In point of fact, about 45% of those registering on this website make the "Romance might be nice" selection in the "Relations" field on their profile.
So I had to find a way to serve not only the person looking to make a quick, one-time connection to share a cruise cabin, but also the person on a more serious search for a romantic or long-term partner. The solution is reflected in the varying membership levels. The Bronze membership means that for a token price, a person can pop on to the site, make a profile, do a basic serach for other members, and find a compatible companion without any great expectations. At the other end of the spectrum, a Gold membership suits the user who is going to spend a lot of time on the site, making contacts and conversation, looking more deeply at various characteristics of a potential partner.
It is only the Gold membership which allows a user to search for other members based on physical characteristics such as height and weight. For those users for which this is not a factor, not only are they not paying for this feature in the Bronze and Silver membership packages, but they need not be concerned that other users at a similar memberhsip level will be basing their search on those criteria.
All of which, of course, does nothing to address the underlying concern of women that men are too quick to judge a potential partner on the basis of superficial characteristics. Chatting recently with another TCE member, I got a sort of object lesson in the dilemmas this presents.
She is looking for a male companion, platonic only, to accompany her on a photographic trip to India. She grumbled that men are hesitant to make the first move-- that she is usually the one to have to initiate contact. I suggested that her photo on the site was a sort of "plain Jane" picture, and that if she used one of the more attractive photos I had seen on her Facebook page, she might find more men initiating. Her response to that was that then she would face an opposite problem, with men contacting her with unwelcome intent, so she had chosen the plain picture deliberately.
Sometimes you just can't win. ;-)
My, my. It took about two weeks, but eventually the man I spoke about in my last post replied. He apologized for being abrupt, and asked for continued assistance. We got his problem sorted out, and he is now a happy member of the site.
But I turned a corner somehow with that experience, so when I was confronted again with a similar situation over the last couple of days, I took my response a little further.
After receiving a help request from someone who couldn't get the registration form to work, I sent the standard reply asking her to check if there were any error messages. I find that about half of such requests are cleared up this way-- people just didn't bother to scroll back up the page and look for the problem.
Her response: "Sorry, but I'm not really that dumb.
Can we move along?"
Apart from the obvious facts that when using her computer at work, she would have to go through their Internet gateway no matter what, and also that she failed to give me the browser version as requested, it seemed to me she was approaching insolence in her response.
This doesn't bother me for my own sake, but I begin to wonder in a situation like this, Why would I go to a lot of trouble to help a person like this join the site, who would be such an unpleasant person to introduce to my other members? I'm interested in helping people have happy trips, and I can't see anyone enjoying the company of someone who is abrupt and dismissive with anyone, let alone someone they are asking help of.
So I echoed her last comment, and replied, "Yes, I think it's probably best if you just move along. The other members of my site would enjoy having patient and polite fellow-travellers as potential companions.
Enjoy your travels.
Unlike the previous individual, she responded promptly, and angrily, confirming my impression. She threatened to include an account of my "dark side" in her "blogs," of which she said she had "several." This would be great, actually, as any mention of my site in a popular blog would help boost my Google page ranking, but alas-- on checking her website, her blog had only one entry, no followers, and a Google search failed to turn up any other mentions of her name.
I believe I may have saved somebody a miserable trip. ;-)