Yonderbound: A whole new way to plan and book travel

Clouds WA scaled

I often get asked how I go about finding places to stay. I mean, I travel a lot, presumably I have an awesome system in place for picking the best spots for the best price. A secret system, known only to seasoned travellers.

Obviously to anyone who knows me, I don’t have said secret system.

My travel booking process (although calling what I do a process is a bit of a stretch) tends to start a couple of months out, where I load up a few of the more common booking websites like Booking.com or Hostelworld, get some ideas as to price, get giddy as to the idea of going on a trip, and then get distracted by a kitten on Facebook.

DCIM\100GOPRO

A couple of weeks after that, the booking engine in question will creepily e-mail me to remind me that there are still great deals available in the area I was searching in, and I’ll remember that I haven’t actually booked anywhere yet.

At this point I start all over again. If I’m lucky, I might have made a note about some places that looked nice the first time round, and give them a closer look, likely hopping between booking sites and review sites. If I’m really lucky, I might not get distracted by another cute kitten, and have to repeat the process umpteen times.

As you can see, this system isn’t exactly perfect. It would be better if there were no kittens for one, although I’m not sure if there are any booking systems out there planning their business model around kitten eradication in a ploy to build subscribers. It wouldn’t work anyway, because then there’d be a cute dog learning to rollerblade or something.

Eiffel Tower paris scaled

The other way that my process could be improved then, is to allow me to save my ideas from inside the booking system, so that when I forget what I’m doing and wander off to eat a cupcake, I can come back where I left off and just carry on.

Previously, this was attempted using a mix of notes, browser bookmarks, and the memory storage of the lump of goo in my head. Now, there’s Yonderbound.

*sound of heavenly chorus*

yonderbound homepage

What is Yonderbound? Well, at its heart it’s currently a booking site for accommodation, featuring 383,693 hotels across 192 countries, and prices that are as competitive as any you’ll find on rival sites. It has a really powerful search engine, allowing you to filter by feature such as free Wi-Fi, as well as hotel star rating and of course by price.

Another great feature is that you can filter by and see the current TripAdvisor rating for any property, as well as reviews, without having to leave Yonderbound

yonderbound filters

So far, so normal, at least in terms of booking engines. I have to say though, this one is pretty darn sexy looking.

The killer feature of Yonderbound, which sets it apart from the rest, is the feature known as Yonderboxing.

This basically lets you save any property that you like the look of into your personal file, called a Yonderbox, which you will then be able to find later, should you have found yourself distracted from the process by a cookie. Even better, you can add a note to your Yonderbox, explaining why this particular property was worth saving, so you don’t need to retrace your steps all over again.

For the inevitable comparison to existing technologies, think of it as Pinterest or Trover, but with a booking engine built in. Less dreaming, more reality.

You can create Yonderboxes for different trips, featuring different properties and destinations, perhaps with different themes.

Even better, if you are absolutely stoked about your Yonderbox, and think you have nailed the perfect sequence of places to stay in a destination, you can share it publically for everyone to enjoy. Take this Yonderbox of hotels around the world with the best rooftops, or this one showcasing great street art locations. Both themes I can really get behind!

yonderbound yonderboxes

It works great for publishers, too. For example, I have a post detailing a two week road trip in the UK. Currently, I recommend some major booking engines, and let you get on with figuring out your own accommodation to match your budget.

Instead of that, I could put together my own Yonderboxes. One for budget travellers for example, and one if you’re looking to travel in luxury. You could just book them there and then, minimal research required. It’s perfect for anyone like myself who likes to recommend trips, and good for you if the thought of figuring out the best hotels in an area gives you a headache.

And that’s not all! Yonderbound is still in beta, and they have big plans beyond just accommodation. Soon you should be able to book other adventures, like trips out. So when I go on an adventure and take part in a bunch of activities, I’ll be able to load it all up into one Yonderbox for you to take a look at.

Canoeing in Thailand scaled

So, you are probably thinking, this all sounds wonderful. Where’s the catch? Well, as is natural with any new product, there are a few downsides, or at least, one big one, and one minor niggle.

Yonderbound is still new, and its portfolio is growing. 383,000 hotels is a lot, but it’s not quite everywhere yet, and it’s a couple of hundred thousand shy of say Booking.com. Although, truth be told, I have found that when you start getting off the beaten track, most of the big search engines tend to fail you anyway, and local recommendations are the way to go. For most major destinations, Yonderbound will have you covered.

I also feel that the filtering system could be improved a bit. For example, there is a little number by each filter category, showing you how many of the search results meet that specific requirement, but this doesn’t update when you pick another filter.

For example, when you click to only select five star hotels (that’s how you roll too, right?), I would expect the other filters to update to show me how many five star hotels also offer free Wi-Fi. But the number stays resolutely the same, just reflecting how many properties of all types in that area offer free Wi-Fi. This means that as you filter, you may end up with a search with no properties matching it.

One other minor niggle with the filtering system is that there’s no way to save your filters, even between searches. So if I select my filters, but then change the dates of my search, I have to select my filters again. It would be great for filters to be saved between searches, and also for me to set up some default filters for all searches (because, seriously people, if your hotel doesn’t have free Wi-Fi I am not interested).

Ok, so these aren’t deal breakers by a long way. As the site keeps growing, the number of properties will keep expanding, and I just know that the filtering system will get improved upon as well. But I didn’t want you to think it was all roses.

yonderbound history

Finally, and, for publishers like me, another advantage of Yonderbound, is they have a solid referral system in place. So if you guys like the recommendations and Yonderboxes I put together, I get a little referral fee if you book. It doesn’t cost you any more, and gives me a little more incentive to put some great lists together. Win win!

I hope you take a moment to check it out and add it to your list of tools for planning your trips. Have a go, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

This branded content was brought to you in partnership with Yonderbound, who asked me to review their service, but had no control over the content of the post. Babbling about kittens and cupcakes whilst failing to book hotels can’t be bottled...




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