A new Romanian application provides travellers with thousands of holiday ideas.
If you plan to get to the US Open, or maybe to the Venice Biennale, if you’re interested in the Negara buffalo races in Indonesia or in a tango festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina, now you have a solution. An application made by a Romanian offers travellers in search of holiday ideas a database with thousands of festivals and events around the world, arranged in a calendar. Cristian Munteanu, founder and CEO of Qalendra, tells us how he got the idea and how the project developed in the last two years:
“Qalendra was an idea rooted in my needs as a traveller. I am an active traveller, I like to do all sorts of things, to see places, to have experiences. I like skydiving, car racing, I am a special kind of traveller. So first I tried to put together a calendar of things I would have liked to see, like Tomatina, the world’s biggest tomato fight. Because I kept forgetting about it, I would find myself in September again, and that Thursday in August when the festival takes place had been and gone. Every time I would tell myself, never mind, I’ll do it next year. So I started this as an Excel file, with every month of the year and all major events in the world. Then, one day, I realized this file would not just automatically update, the third Thursday in August is on a different date every year, so I thought I could turn it into an application or a website, so that other people may have access to information. Everything started from a calendar of festivals and events, but we later started to identify more pressing needs the travellers may have. Qalendra is a travel company catering to active travellers from all over the world, and what we do is develop some algorithms able to identify the region offering the best conditions for one activity and another.”
We spend almost one thousand days on holiday during our lifetime and how we spend these days depends on us. Qalendra gleans information for specific travel demands. Here is Cristian Munteanu with more.
“Let’s say I would like to go skiing in Chile between 1st and 8th of June. We identify the ski resorts in Chile that offer the best conditions for winter sports in that period, taking into account the snow layer, visibility, the length of ski tracks, the facilities they offer, like ski and chairlifts, etc. We are concerned about one thing only, the tourists, who must have the most pleasant holiday experience. That’s why we take into consideration all the parameters that could affect their holiday. We contact weather forecast services, for instance, we have detailed information on the last 50 years, we have data on ski slopes, maps of the slopes and so on. The Internet has expanded a lot as a structure in recent years. There are all sorts of sites covering all sorts of fields, which basically feed information to you. What we do is provide facts to people: it’s here you should go, because here you have 8.3 % higher chances to find a snow layer over 28 centimetres at this time of the year.”
Perhaps one of the most impressive options Qalendra makes available to prospective travellers is the Travel Wishlist. Every one of us can introduce in their personal list the festivals and events they want to take part in. Qalendra will then send notifications and alerts, when the start date for the festivals is drawing near, when discounts and promotions are on, when the date and venue of an event changes, when other interesting things happen nearby or when cheaper plane tickets are available. We asked Cristian Munteanu if we could make use of Qalendra to find out more about the Tango Festival in Argentina.
“It’s quite simple. You have to search Qalendra using key words like ‘festival’ or ‘tango’ and you can have access to all the information you need quite easily. If we want the user’s experience to be as pleasant as possible, we recommend a hotel close to the venue of the event, then we recommend a suitable flight in terms of price; in the initial package we also propose a hotel shuttle service to and from the airport, plus other things which the traveller wants to add, for instance a traditional Argentine dinner, or a sightseeing tour of the city. So, you can have a full package just with 4-5 clicks and we give you the reasons for our recommendations; the traveller makes just one payment and we distribute the money to all the providers”.
A team of editors select the information, do research on various themes and then write articles about each and every festival. For instance, they work for a week to pick up all the information on the most important cultural events in Argentina. First, they identify the events, then they write the texts, giving all kinds of details, plus pictures. The database is permanently updated. Qalendra provides information about some 2000 festivals across the world, but it focuses on festivals and events in Europe.