There are a few constants in the travel industry that haven't budged despite the influx of technology and a new generation of travellers approaching things in a different way. One of those is the pain of planning, the agony of trying to make the best of a destination that you have little or no knowledge of.
The second is a need for adventure, for genuine, memorable thrills and excitement. Travel remains a form of escape and we want it to feel that way. But here's the ever-present issue: How do you stay spontaneous and have an awesome itinerary? How do you keep that adventurous spirit burning when you always know what's coming next?
The third problem faced by many travellers is simply choosing a destination. With European city breaks, for example, there is so much choice, not a huge difference in price but so much variation. An incredible city break is always on the doorstep, but taking the leap and choosing one is difficult.
The fourth and final problem is packing that sense of adventure into relatively short trips. Most European travellers make the most of long weekends and look to spend a few days in a destination. That doesn't leave much room for spontaneity.
These are all problems Dutch travel agency srprs.me (short for Surprise Me) has been trying to solve. The Amsterdam-based agency does travel differently. Instead of offering a range of destinations and accommodation, srprs.me takes spontaneity to the next level. You tell them your dates, your budget and a few basic preferences. They handle the rest.
It sounds simple because it is.
The only thing we can tell you is that there's an airport nearby. Whether it's a destination that's off the beaten track or somewhere you've heard of lots of times before, it's the excitement of not knowing that gives you the thrill." - srprs.me
Once your booking is complete, the srprs.me team go about arranging your flights and accommodation. Then, a week or so before you're due to travel, they will send you a weather forecast. Spontaneity is no fun when you're wearing shorts in the snow, after all. A couple of days before you're going to leave they will send you a code in the post. That code gives you access to your destination, and the idea is that you open it up once you arrive at the airport.
If it all goes well, you find out where you are flying right before you check in and board the aircraft. It's all the excitement and adrenaline of a last-minute trip with the peace of mind that comes with having everything booked already.
Guess what. You’re in control of picking your destination. We're joking. That’s never going to happen. However, we will let you be in charge of one thing. You pick a cardinal point and we determine the exact coordinates. Whether you choose to go to your favourite part of continental Europe or decide to go to a lesser-known region, the city you end up in will always be a surprise." - srprs.me
This concept wouldn't work without a bit of flexibility, which is interesting.
During the process, you can choose a part of Europe (north, west, east, south) and name a few cities that you want to rule out of contention. That should be enough to make sure you get the kind of trip you're looking for and don't head somewhere you've already visited seven times.
But it's intriguing that srprs.me hasn't gone all out on the mystery travel concept. They've left a little bit of room for personalisation. Perhaps this tells us that, while travellers are increasingly in search of adventure, they still want a few home comforts, as well as the guarantee that comes with having accommodation sorted and the ability to pack according to the weather forecast.
All in all, mystery travel finds the perfect balance between spontaneity and organisation. Sure, there's probably a market out there for hardcore adventurers who want to be parachuted into a city with nothing booked and no plans. But for the majority of us, a hint of adventure is enough to get the adrenaline flowing.
srprs.me's unusual formula frees travellers of all of those obligations that occur in the build-up to a trip: You don't spend ages creating a city bucket list, you don't find out the best spots to eat. Instead, you make it up as you go, and probably have a more authentic experience as a result.
Here at Travelshift we love nothing more than innovative travel companies and concepts. We straddle the space between tourism and technology to build travel marketplaces that make a mark. Just like srprs.me, we think that true travel experiences rely on adventure and authenticity.
That's why our marketplaces are built with tourists in mind. Our software enables travel startups to band together and build community-driven marketplaces to compete with industry giants. Simply choose a travel niche, bring together authentic suppliers and watch as your community grows into a self-perpetuating, thriving online tourism business.
Contact us today for more information!