WAYN, which stands for “Where Are You Now” is a social media site that brings together people who love to travel. The site allows members to sign up for free, list all the places they have been, all the places they want to travel, and offers the best individualized travel tips for each destination. As of today, WAYN is the largest travel and lifestyle platform with over 20 million members from 193 countries (source).
Founded in 2002, the site now averages 3.5 million visitors a month and is constantly increasing revenue year after year. Referring to themselves as “the premiere social travel network,” WAYN can be seen as “a bridge between social sites Facebook and TripAdvisor” . In an interview with Tnooz, co-CEOs Peter Ward and Jerome Touze argued that the target market is more than just poor backpackers, as some suggested. The site actually appeals to all walks of life, ranging from some of the richest to some of the poorest world travelers. Of course, it also appeals to people from all countries.
Since the launch over ten years ago, WAYN has “pivoted” in how the site has been perceived. One venture they attempted was moving the site towards a dating platform. Another is the offer of “stories” which encourages members to write articles while they travel. The co-CEO’s state that the stories not only help writers gain experience and exposure, but also increases engagement and site visibility. Today, the site includes all of the above, but mainly focuses on allowing users to make friends while travelling, as well as connect with people that aren’t already in their social graph (source). This is what distinguishes WAYN as a social media unlike others like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I personally connect with people I know on Facebook, follow celebrities or my favorite brands on Twitter, and use Instagram to connect with people with similar aesthetic interests. WAYN allows members to step outside the box and “meet” new people that are located all over the world with no “mutual friends” or connections. For example, the site is a way for me to learn all about backpacking Southeast Asia, even if it is just a fantasy of mine I may never live up. Though, if I make enough connections, possibly establish some decent friends via WAYN, I may just go for it after all. I can just as easily connect with people I know, or possibly even celebrities and brands, as well as see aesthetically pleasing pictures from users all over the world on WAYN, so it basically brings together the best of all platforms specifically for people who wish to travel the world.
WAYN offers social sharing, as well as the ability to sign up as a member using Facebook. On every page, widgets for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are available. What I find awesome is that the site also offers a tab to book hotels through Booking.com. In ten minutes on WAYN a member can share an article with friends on Facebook, add “friends” from different countries, browse pictures of a dream destination, and book a hotel for their next vacation.
Since everything is travel related, I think incorporating proximity marketing could be a bit of a struggle. I think the best way WAYN could benefit from proximity marketing is if they incorporate a “check-in” to their mobile app similar to that of Facebook. Say, for instance, I am travelling to Mumbai, India. If I use my WAYN app, check-in that I am arriving at the YMCA hotel (yes, it’s a hotel, not a gym), I could see other WAYN members who have stayed, their reviews, and maybe their suggestions for the immediate area. WAYN could partner with hotels and travel sites to allow for my check-in to even pop up promotions such as “10% off your first night stay! Thanks for using the WAYN app!” Since Foursquare/Swarm is worldwide, WAYN could even partner with this app to grow with proximity marketing.
Overall, I think WAYN is a very successful social media site specifically for people interested in traveling. The site is a bit cluttered though, and since the focus is on making friends and networking with people all over the world that you do not immediately know, I do not see that WAYN would ever stand out among the other big social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. There is a bit too much going on with the dating, hotel booking, and personal travel journaling that makes the site seem a little all over the place, but I definitely find the appeal for adventurous personalities who have either big dreams, big budgets, or the admirable skill of living out of a backpack.