Updated: Sep 30, 2019
wildbumble® aims to inspire travel and adventure, so this week we are delighted to be featuring a buzzing travel app called Firef.ly and interviewing Shawn Low one of 3 co-founders who is the editorial director.
Shawn briefly tell us about your background and how it lends itself to this product.
I've been working with travel and content for nearly 15 years now. Most notably, I've worked for Lonely Planet, producing and commissioning content for their books, website and TV, online videos. On the TV front, I've had the privilege to be able to host travel shows, including one in Yunnan China for National Geographic. I've also created and led content strategy for blue-chip clients (IBM, SingTel, McDonald's etc) during a stint at content marketing agency King Content.
I've always been interested in tech and when I was introduced to Chad Cribbins, the founder of Firef.ly, it seemed like great timing and a good fit. I would be able to create great travel content for a mobile platform that helps people travel better. It was win-win for me.
What first made you decide to write about travel?
You could say that travel runs in the family. My dad worked as in-flight crew and I took my first trip from Singapore to Australia at the tender young age of 6 months. We used to travel regularly and I would also feed my curiosity about the world by leafing through National Geographic magazines, atlases and all the photos, coins and memoribilia my dad brought back from his travels. Later on, I did a media and communications diploma and degree, focusing on journalism, creative writing...
Being able to combine my passion for travel as well as my writing skills seemed like a great match.
Is travel your first passion or did you just fall in to it by accident?
I think travel is increasingly part of the fabric of modern life. It's not hard to travel and it's easy for people to 'love' travel...can you really not like going on a holiday? Staying excited about travel and having a platform to share and help people travel better is win-win for me!
What’s it like being involved with such well known travel publications as the Lonely Planet and the National Geographic?
It has been extremely rewarding being able to work with some of the world's best travel brands. They are run by passionate, talented people who have a global audience. To be able to work hard and see that work reaching so many people around the world is incredibly satisfying.
What in your opinion makes a travel guide really special and worth buying?
It needs to be trustworthy (written by people and/or published by a brand you can trust), updated regularly and spot-on in its recommendations. The information should be accurate of course. There is also 'free' information online but again, much of what I just mentioned applies. That's what we try to do with the guide in our Firef.ly app. They are written by people who have spent time in a destination, written with personality and checked for accuracy.
For budding travellers where in the world would you like to travel next and why?
I always have two replies when it comes to making recommendations on where to travel.
1) Start in your own country. There are plenty of new places/neighbourhoods that you probably haven't seen. It'll be cheap and you can easily spend weekends exploring new spots. You could even make it a staycation: stay the night! There's no real excuse not to travel and your own country is a good starting point.
2) China is always a great country to visit. China has cities, coast, islands, desert, grasslands, highlands, mountains... From the buzzy metropolises of Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai to the misty mountains of Huangshan to historical villages of Hongcun to the stunning Buddhist carvings at Longmen Grottes and the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and Qinghai, there's just incredible diversity on offer.
While language might post a barrier, the Chinese are actually very helpful and curious about foreigners. The rewards are well worth the effort you put into travelling. If you can make it through Spain without speaking Spanish or Italy without knowing any Italian, you can easily make it through China.
What is it about travel that excites you and leaves you wanting more?
There's always a new place to visit, new people to meet, new cultures to learn about, new foods to eat. Travel lets you understand and appreciate the diversity of the world as well as the scope of history which has brought us to where we are today.
Tell us about the main features of this App
The Firef.ly travel app is a rolling travel memoir that offers curated travel recommendations based on your interests. Firef.ly helps you discover interesting places, by getting to know you and then offering you personalised guided content while in a destination. All this information is overlaid on top of a beautiful map-based journal that uses the GPS and other tech to record where you’ve been, along with the moments you’ve captured.
Finally, we knit the experience together by offering personalised travel momentoes such as posters and photos books using data captured in the user’s journal.
What makes FireF.ly special and why should we download it?
One of the frustrations common with travel technology is that there is just too much of it! I'm sure we are familiar with the process of planning a trip and sharing it: you jump on a dozen websites to work out an itinerary and places to see. When you're travelling, you end up posting images on Instagram and Facebook and a year later, struggle to find that photo album you posted online.
Firef.ly aims to connect the dots of travel in a holistic way: from planning to journalling, sharing and re-living the experiences. Currently, there isn't a solution out there that does all this.
Interested? Download the app for iOS free via: http://go.firef.ly/wildbumble
Where is Firef.ly headed to next?
We are working hard to take on user feedback: making it smoother and easier to navigate the app. We will be increasing our content beyond the 12 major cities we currently cover. We will be making our marketplace more accessible for users. We will also be working on a community function within the app so travellers can connect with one another.
Shawn thank you for a very inciteful piece. We look forward to catching up with the 3 of you in the new year.
Stay safe and keep buzzing!